"World of Water" Makes a Splash at the 2020 CEFGA Expo
If you are a water professional who’s never heard of the CEFGA CareerExpo, you are about to get an eye-opening look into tomorrow’s trade and skilled labor workforce. The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (or CEFGA as it’s commonly shortened to) is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and facilitating young people to seek a future in a trade career. They run several training programs including Construction Ready and K12 Pipeline which produce graduates, many straight from high school, with the necessary skills to enter the working world.
CEFGA’s biggest annual undertaking is the CareerExpo and Skills USA State Championship. This year, more than 9,000 attendees from over 6,000 middle schools, high schools, and technical colleges from across the state registered for the March event held at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. Hundreds of employers are represented at the two-day event, which is split into “worlds” where expo attendees can learn more about what the jobs entail and what kind of skills or training is required. Delta, BWM, Mercedes-Benz, Georgia Power, and The Home Depot, among many others, are all on hand to speak with students about their career aspirations and the importance of trade careers.
In 2019, the H2Opportunity committee attended the CareerExpo for the first time with a simple twelve-by-twelve-foot booth to speak with students and influencers (meaning parents, teachers, and councilors) about career paths available in the water industry. Seeing the event firsthand and witnessing the staggering amount of future water professionals that could be reached, H2Opportunity, with support from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), committed to a 40-by-40-foot “World of Water” for the 2020 expo. Committee members from H2Opportunity then reached out to their network of utilities, consultants, vendors, and volunteers to being piecing together a space that demonstrated the journey of water – and the careers involved – beginning at the source and making its way through the entire cycle of drinking water.
With help from the Metro North Georgia Water Planning District, Georgia Water and Wastewater Institute, Temsco Inc., Eco-Tech, Raftelis, Trees Atlanta, Clayton County Water Authority, Henry County Water Authority, Douglasville-Douglas County Water Authority, Cobb County Water System, Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, Marietta Water, and volunteers from many other GAWP affiliates, the “World of Water” came to life. The expo team spent hours cobbling together a complete replica of the human water cycle which included hands-on displays for source water, water treatment, distributions systems, meters, collections systems, wastewater treatments, and stormwater.
Unfortunately, this year COVID-19 swooped into town to rain on the parade, affecting attendance on the first day and causing the second day of the CareerExpo to be cancelled. Though 9,000 attendees had registered, many of those were unable to attend due to health concerns. Despite the circumstances, the “World of Water” still managed to clock more than 600 visitors in just few short hours and exposed them to the many important career paths in the water industry. Using the COVID-19 situation as a learning opportunity, volunteers discussed how important access to safe, clean water is during a public health crisis. Many students (and even some adults) remarked at how they had a greater respect for the role water professionals play as they had been washing their hands more frequently and realized that would not be possible without the dedicated employees that work in water every day.
The H2Opportunity committee is already excited to begin planning for next year’s CEFGA CareerExpo which will be held March 4-5, 2021. If you or your company are interested in helping bring the “World of Water” to life next time, please feel free to contact H2Opportunity or attend the next regularly scheduled committee meeting.
Video highlights of CEFGA 2020
Expo attendee performs adopt-a-stream tests with Gwinnett County Water Resources.
GAWP volunteer Naomi Brown speaks to students about source water.
Expo attendees learn about collections system technologies from Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority employees Nick Lockridge and Ricky Jacobs.
Getting into the spirit of the “World of Water.”
Skylar Lipson with the Georgia Water and Wastewater Institute directs attendees into the “World of Water.”
Marietta Water’s Kim Holland hands out information on water careers and swag to expo attendees.
Clayton County Water Authority employees ready to explain water distribution and throw down in meter madness.
Check out the highlights from CEFGA 2019!