Exploring water careers: NCWQR fair illuminates options

Middle-school and high school students had a unique opportunity to explore careers related to water quality and agriculture on Heidelberg’s campus Thursday.

Heidelberg’s renowned National Center for Water Quality Research (NCWQR) hosted the 2023 Water Career Fair in conjunction with co-sponsor the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition. According to organizer Jakob Boehler, field manager for the NCWQR and coordinator of the watershed coalition, the career fair brought more than 150 middle school and high school students to Heidelberg’s campus for the morning session. Additionally, more than 30 students attended the college portion of the event in the afternoon, with representation from three area universities, including Heidelberg. 

The students who participated learned about career opportunities in the field and the required schooling needed to work in those careers from representatives of more than 20 water quality-related fields including government agencies, research institutes, private consulting firms, non-profits and representatives of other water-related careers.

“The highlight of the event for me was getting to observe all of the employers interacting with the students and seeing the students get excited about the information they were learning,” Jake said. “The NCWQR collaborates with most of the employers that were at the event, so I am used to seeing them doing research or attending meetings, but it was great to see them getting the opportunity to share the work they are passionate about with all of the students.”

A visit from Sen. Reineke

State Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, stopped by the career fair to check out some of the exhibits and talk with company reps, ‘Berg administrators and students. The senator and former Heidelberg Trustee shared his thoughts about the importance of water quality issues in our area and working to get youth interested in water careers.

In addition to the displays, students had the opportunity to sit in on a panel of water quality experts who discussed why they chose water quality as a career, their education and other water quality topics, Jake explained.

Students also toured the NCWQR in Gillmor Science Hall. Faculty and staff shared information about Heidelberg’s academic programs related to water quality, including environmental and watershed science, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science and biology.

At the end of the day, Jake was very satisfied with the outcome of the career fair. “I think the event was a great success! This event brought together so many organizations, all doing excellent work to address water quality issues, and provided them the chance to share this work with students who could represent the next generation of water quality experts. 

“All the feedback I received from the students, employers and other Heidelberg staff was very positive. I am already thinking about what we can do to make next year’s career fair even better!”

Many thanks

Jake expressed appreciation to Heidelberg colleagues at the NCWQR as well as the Admission Office, the Conferences and Events team and Parkhurst Dining who assisted with the event.

Thanks also go to the agencies and organizations who participated in the career fair: City of Toledo Stormwater, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments: Water Works for You, Stream and Wetland Foundation, Seneca Parks, SUNY Buffalo State, Ohio EPA, Ohio Division of Natural Resources H2Ohio, National Center for Water Quality Research, Sandusky River Watershed Coalition, National Weather Service River Forecast, Crawford County Soil and Water, Wyandot County Soil and Water, Richland County Soil and Water, OSS Solid Waste District, Seneca County OSU Extension, OSU Extension Water Quality, Seneca Conservation District, City of Fremont Water Reclamation Center, U.S. Geological Survey, and The Nature Conservancy.

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