Wisconsin pilot youth apprentice program reaches 500th hour

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Wisconsin’s first Youth Apprenticeship Program in Wastewater Treatment has reached its 500th hour, and exemplifies business, education, and government collaborating to create a thriving workforce for tomorrow.

Brandon Burton, 16, a junior at Southwest High School, completed his 500th hour on the job at the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (GBMSD), through the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Apprenticeship Program, which also includes coursework at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

“I’m really honored to be part of this program,” says Burton. “It’s cool to combine school with job training to prepare me for the so-called ‘real-world’ when I graduate.”

As part of Burton’s curriculum at the Green Bay Area Public Schools, he takes Environmental Engineering: Waste and Water Technology courses during the week at NWTC, and then works a few hours a week at GBMSD.

Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce president Laurie Radke says, “The Youth Apprenticeship Program is excited to be an instrumental part of the creation of this Wastewater Treatment pilot. The program is a great success, which we hope to replicate with other business throughout the Green Bay area.”

Recently, Burton was able to troubleshoot a problem while working in the plant at GBMSD, using knowledge he’d just gleaned during coursework at NWTC. He was tasked with doing a routine clean of the dissolved oxygen analyzer, when the cleaning brush head got stuck in the analyzer piping. “I’d just learned how to create a vacuum,” Burton says. “And I wondered if it would work in this case.” It did. That knowledge and Burton’s quick thinking prevented a work order from having to be filled out.

This preparation for post-high school education and real-world job experience in partnership with the community is just the kind of initiative the Green Bay Area Public School District is eager to foster.

Superintendent of Schools and Learning Dr. Michelle Langenfeld says, “Burton is a prime example of what our students can achieve through hard work, dedication, great mentoring, and the leadership of our teachers. We have many more students like Burton waiting to be placed.”

Professor John Katers from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has served on the advisory committee for the program and has praised the collaboration of the various partners. UWGB offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental sciences, with several alumni from UWGB’s environmental programs employed at GBMSD.

About the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District  
The mission of GBMSD is to promote public health and welfare through the collection, treatment, and reclamation of wastewater, while assessing stable, competitive rates. In conjunction with others, the organization will encourage pollution prevention and support programs to help ensure that water contaminated by human activity is returned clean to the environment. 


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