Youth Leadership Henry visits HCWA Campus
The Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) continued its support of Youth Leadership Henry this year when the utility hosted 27 Henry County students for an overview of the utility, tours of facilities, and a class service project.
“When the students came to discover more about the Water Authority and how they can be more environmentally responsible, they embraced the day with excitement and eagerness to learn,” says Lindsey Sanders, HCWA Environmental Compliance Coordinator, who helped organize the event. “We are happy to be a part of such a commendable program to build strong leaders in our community.”
The Youth Leadership Henry students began their morning by visiting the HCWA Headquarters and Engineering Complex, where Sanders and other Authority staff provided an overview of the role of the Authority in the community to provide clean, safe drinking water to more than 50,000 customer accounts, as well as wastewater collection and treatment services for thousands of households and businesses as well.
After the morning orientation, the students then toured the HCWA Towaliga Water Treatment Plant, which is the oldest and largest of the utility’s two water treatment facilities. The Towaliga Plant has a drinking water production capacity of approximately 28 million gallons per day (MGD). It is among the best operated water plants in the state, boasting past awards that include 100% permit compliance, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Water Plant Operations, as well as the Plant of the Year Award in Georgia.
Following their tour of the Towaliga Plant, students then ventured to a site near the HCWA Gardner Reservoir for their service project, which was a river/reservoir cleanup affiliated with the statewide Rivers Alive campaign.
“Our visit to the Henry County Water Authority helped open the eyes of our students to the behind the scenes activities that they take for granted when they turn on their water faucet, while also giving them pause before they pour something (fats, oils and grease) down the drain,” says Don Dunlap, Chairman of Youth Leadership Henry. “In our post-program day survey, the students also commented on how much they enjoyed being able to help out with the cleanup around the reservoir.”
Youth Leadership Henry is a leadership program for high school sophomores sponsored by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of Youth Leadership Henry is to identify emerging leaders, to bring them together in an atmosphere conducive to the free exchange of ideas, and to provide them with an enlightening educational experience.
Susan Howington, Henry County Cooperative Extension Coordinator from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was a 1997 Leadership Henry participant and is a Leadership Henry Past President. She worked with other Leadership Alumni to create Youth Leadership Henry for local high school students, with the first graduating class coming to fruition in 1998. She says her vision was to ensure that participating high school students would become competent and contributing leaders in the community. This year’s class features some of the best high school students in Henry County.
“This was a great opportunity for Youth Leadership Henry to partner with the Henry County Water Authority so our future leaders would actually know how our water is managed,” says Howington. “We appreciate the chance to be included in the cleanup as well. This gave the students hands-on experience of just how littering can affect the water quality in our reservoirs.”
Youth Leadership Henry participants are taught leadership skills, while learning about the various government, economic, and social sectors of the community. Hence, the visit and partnership with the HCWA. The program is invaluable for cultivating this community’s future leaders, public servants, elected officials, as well as knowledgeable and engaged citizens.
By interacting with current community leaders to examine a variety of issues that affect Henry County, students also gain insights into the complex decision-making process that is essential to addressing community needs. They also learn more about cultural and economic opportunities in Henry County and the resources available within the community.
For photos from Youth Leadership Henry visits to the HCWA, check out the Authority’s website at www.hcwa.com.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.