The City of Dallas Environmental Education Initiative is accepting applications for its summer Team Waterworks program for high school students to be held June 16-20.

Senior chemist Juan Avalos gives high school students David Pecina, Stephanie Almendarez and Neil Ramirez a tour of the Elm Fork drinking water plant in Carrollton. Photo courtesy of DEEI.

May 21, 2014

Dallas high school students interested in a career in sustainability are encouraged to apply for a summer program that offers a behind-the-scenes look into how water gets from its source to the faucet.

The program dubbed Team Waterworks is hosted by the city of Dallas Environment Education Initiative. Applicants are being sought for the session to be held June 16-20.

The Environment Education Initiative grew out of a 1997 state mandate that requires regional water districts to provide water conservation education. In 2006, the city of Dallas decided they wanted to do more than public service announcements and flyers to change public perception. So they formed the Environmental Education Initiative to teach its youngest citizens about environmental stewardship in relation to urban water supplies. They contracted the University of North Texas to develop and administer the curriculum. 

Plant manager Joseph Olabode leads a tour at the Southside wastewater treatment plant. Courtesy of DEEI.

While EEI brings lessons into the classroom for elementary and middle school students, it gears the week-long off-site course to older teens and focuses on real-world experience. This year, 14 high school students will get the chance to learn all aspects of the municipal water system.

To qualify, students must attend school or live in Dallas city limits, have a 2.5 grade average and have completed 10 hours of volunteer work.

“I'm pushing to get more students who might not realize they're interested in a career in the environment,” said Victoria Serna, outreach coordinator for the EEI program. 

Those selected will the spend the week testing water quality at local reservoirs, touring water treatment plants and meeting the people who work in the industry.

Sudents walk past the settling tanks outside the facility. Courtesy of DEEI.

Serna said it’s a great opportunity for teens to get meet and talk with people in environmental careers. 

“All the careers in the environment aren’t just for scientists,” said Serna. “There are jobs for people in law enforcement, engineering, business and marketing as well.” 

During the week, the group will also tour the landfill and the materials reclamation facility, where recyclables are sorted. The week will end with a kayaking trip to Ray Roberts Lake. 

“We’re trying to incorporate the benefits of getting outside as well,” said Serna. “As we’re kayaking, we’ll point out that this is water that could come out of your faucet, so be mindful of where you are.” 

Apply for the Team Waterworks program.

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