Innovative Job Training Continues in New Orleans with EPA Grant Support

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Limitless Vistas, a job-training non-profit, plans to continue its green jobs internship program thanks to an extension of the EPA's Job Training Grant.

Left to right, Patrick A. Barnes (BFA/LVI), Barbara Lacen Keller (New Orleans Council-Woman Stacey Head’s office), Marcia St. Martin (Executive Director New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board), Mathy Stanislaus (Assistant Administrator EPA Office of Solid W

At the Sewerage and Water Board East Bank Wastewater Treatment Plant after EPA announces its Job Training Grant recipients.

“This partnership in the training of water and wastewater operations through Limitless Vistas can help to address the critical need for succession planning as our workforce ages,” St. Martin said.

On June 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a second funding term to Limitless Vistas (LVI), a job training non-profit. The EPA Job Training Grant, worth $200,000 over two years, was also awarded to LVI in 2010. The grant was part of $3 million in federal funds awarded throughout the country to businesses and non-profits who are driving growth in the green jobs sector.

LVI was founded in 2006 by Patrick Barnes, P.G., to add a philanthropic partner to Barnes Ferland & Associates (BFA), the environmental consultation firm he co-founded in 1994. The non-profit provides environmental jobs training for disconnected and at-risk youth. Since its founding, LVI has trained over 270 students aged 17-24 in the New Orleans area.

In the summer of 2010, LVI partnered with the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Veolia Water to provide classroom and hands-on job training for at-risk youth in the water and wastewater treatment industries. As Barnes explains, once “the population that stood to benefit most from this kind of training was identified, the natural next move was to find partners willing to open up their operations and help train these young adults. This collaboration and the internship that’s grown out of it have turned a crisis into an opportunity.” The summer internship program that began with 10 students has grown, and is now providing paid training to 10 additional students, according to LVI Executive Director Matilda Tennessee.

At the June 21 announcement of the grant’s extension, New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Executive Director Marcia St. Martin thanked LVI and Veolia Water for pooling their resources and experience to help at-risk youth. “This partnership in the training of water and wastewater operations through Limitless Vistas can help to address the critical need for succession planning as our workforce ages,” St. Martin said. “It also can prepare our young people to become vital participants in the water and wastewater industry.”

During the four-week program, interns learn the various stages of the wastewater treatment process, how to use a treatment plant's SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system to control operations, and how to analyze plant processes at aeration basins, clarifiers, and belt presses. They are also taught how to properly collect influent and effluent samples, and to measure and interpret water quality parameters such as pH, temperature, turbidity and conductance. Graduates from the internship earn technical certifications and scholarships, and qualify to apply for entry-level positions as they become available.

“The internship has proven to be an effective way to reach out and educate young people who don't usually consider the water and wastewater industry as a possible career path,” Kevin Servat said. Servat is Senior Project Manager for Veolia Water in New Orleans.

Concerning future plans for additional job training programs, Tennessee is optimistic. “The EPA is very eager to incorporate coastal restoration job skills into these kinds of grants, so LVI and its partner BFA will be reaching out to the state of Louisiana and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to see about the possibility of projects under their jurisdiction,” she said. “Training in those skills would be extremely beneficial for the students we work with, and vital for Louisiana, as well.”

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Patrick A. Barnes, P.G.

Matilda Tennessee
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