As the holiday season approaches, we can’t help but think about everything we’re thankful for. One of those things is our incredible team. While we may only be 14 members strong, we’re mighty and bring ample experience and qualifications to the table.
Our experts not only tout a wide variety of capabilities—they also have access to numerous professional development opportunities: chances to upskill, learn about emerging wastewater technologies, and gain insights from other industry leaders.
In this month’s blog, we’re diving into what it takes to keep the Boxelder Sanitation District operating efficiently and effectively—how our staff is structured and how we invest in their professional abilities. Our people, their skills, and their combined 77+ years of institutional knowledge are all key factors in successfully protecting our community’s natural resources.
THE BOXELDER TEAM AT A GLANCE
First, let’s highlight the professionals who provide wastewater services to the District, looking at their roles, qualifications, and experience.
A Small, Diverse Team
Each Boxelder team member holds one of two types of roles within our organization:
- Field employees – These are the staff you might see in our treatment facilities or around our service area. Some positions include wastewater treatment plant operators, wastewater collections operators, engineers, and pretreatment specialists.
- Administrative employees – These critical staff members typically work in our offices, and they make sure that our field operations run smoothly. We rely on our administrative assistants, finance manager, development coordinator, HR manager, and district manager to support customers, help oversee resources and provide stellar service to our community.
Skills and Experience: The Building Blocks for Excellent Service
Our staff comes from diverse backgrounds, so they possess a wide variety of skills and years of combined experience. When totaled, the Boxelder Sanitation District team has over 77 years of tenure at our organization alone.
While education is key to our work, wastewater professionals don’t necessarily need prior qualifications to join the industry. Any of the following backgrounds can provide a solid foundation for a career in wastewater:
- A high school diploma
- A bachelor’s or higher college degree
- A degree or certification in biological or environmental sciences
Many of our staff also hold additional qualifications:
- Our wastewater treatment plant operators have a state credential called an ‘A’ Operator Certification—the highest operator certification available in Colorado.
- Our wastewater collections operators have Collections Operator Certifications issued by the state.
- Our team’s engineers hold Professional Engineering Registrations with the state: a license to create and certify engineering documents, calculations, and designs.
All three of these credentials require prospective certificate holders to sit for one or more state exams. To do so, applicants must fulfill prerequisites and stay up-to-date on industry knowledge.
At Boxelder, we’re passionate about fostering an environment of professional development, even after additional qualifications have been earned. Our Wastewater Facility Manager, Craig Hibbard, is a strong promoter of continuing education. He explains, “I strongly believe in continued growth and challenging yourself to learn more. Becoming a more capable operator is very important to me.” We ensure our team has access to ample learning opportunities so that we can continue to serve our District to the best of our ability.
Why We Invest in Professional Development
The Boxelder Sanitation District prioritizes continuing education because it benefits the customers we serve. When our staff is equipped with the industry’s latest skills, technologies, and data, they can provide exceptional service and effectively protect the environment.
Keeping our ears to the ground for new developments is critical. The wastewater industry as a whole relies on ever-changing:
- Research – As new data emerges about our state, regional, and worldwide resources, organizations like Boxelder can make operational and management decisions with this information in mind.
- Technology – New research and management methods demand innovation: technologies that help us maintain our critical resources.
- Regulations – With emerging data and tools, regulatory bodies must publish and tweak guidelines that protect the best interest of communities and the resources we share. Boxelder is mandated by the state and federal government to adhere to all of these regulations.
Wastewater Industry Education Opportunities
The wastewater industry offers numerous opportunities for professional development: conferences are one example. In 2023, members of the Boxelder team attended two key conferences that enhanced our knowledge of current wastewater research, regulations, and technologies:
- The Special District Association (SDA) of Colorado Conference – At the SDA of Colorado Conference, special district professionals gathered to discuss valuable insights on numerous special district management topics and issues. Nine Boxelder teammates participated in the 2023 conference, and attendees explored topics like cybersecurity, ADA website compliance, emerging legislation, leadership development, and finance strategies. While we’re working to incorporate all of the valuable information from this year’s SDA conference into our service model, we’re focusing on cybersecurity proactivity and updating our website to comply with ADA laws.
- The Rocky Mountain Water Conference (RMWC) – The Rocky Mountain Water Conference (RMWC) is an annual joint meeting of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA) and the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association (RMSAWWA). Six Boxelder staff attended the 2023 conference to network with other wastewater professionals and discuss industry topics. This year, our team came back with new information about wastewater treatment technologies, regulations updates, and capital projects planning. Knowledge gained at this conference will support our efforts to streamline project management and workflow for future infrastructure development.
Conferences also provide a valuable chance to network and share information with other wastewater districts from around the state. Our District Engineer, Dan Richardson, says that these conferences are valuable because they provide perspective on, “how different sanitation authorities in the same geographical area respond to industrywide issues [which] helps our District avoid pitfalls and implement best management practices.”
Drawing Upon Resources for Professional Growth
In addition to attending conferences and reviewing facts presented there, Boxelder employees also commit to developing their skills by:
- Setting goals with their managers – Managers provide key mentorship and keep employees abreast of certification changes, regulatory news, and educational opportunities. Managers also help employees set and achieve professional goals during regular performance reviews.
- Joining professional organizations – Many Boxelder employees are members of one or more wastewater organizations. Membership provides access to emerging data, newly published research, professional development opportunities, and a network of experts.
STAYING CURRENT WITH WASTEWATER SKILLS: A KEY GOAL FOR THE BOXELDER TEAM
Staying up-to-date on the latest wastewater trends and strategies and continuing education are top priorities for our team. By investing in our professional competencies, we likewise invest in our local resources, learning new ways to protect our water and serve you with confidence and consistency.
This holiday season, we want to express our deepest gratitude for our team, as well as our community—the people like you who rely on our services and continue to support our mission. From all of us here at Boxelder, thank you, and happy holidays.