My name is Colin Flanner, intern and student chapter liaison at The Water Council. I was first connected to The Water Council through my school’s mentorship program in 2014 during my senior year of high school at Brookfield Central in Brookfield, WI. Since my interview and offer with Elizabeth Thelen, director of entrepreneurship and talent, in the fall of that year, The Water Council has afforded me numerous opportunities to grow and learn, and to spread the ‘water story’ to others.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth was approached by Michele Malinowski, Senior Project Engineer at Badger Meter, who is extensively involved with the Girl Scouts of America, by way of her daughters’ troop. Michele wished to set up a day of activities hosted at Global Water Center I that centered around the water industry, specifically pertaining to careers in water, and connect it to the existing Wonders of Water (WOW!) Journey. WOW! is a program offered to Girl Scout Brownies, upon completion, the Brownies have a better understanding of the important role water, including industry, jobs, and education, plays in our daily lives. Being an Eagle Scout myself, Elizabeth asked me to lead the project. I was in charge of planning the half-day event which included: coordinating meetings with Michele, securing industry partners to present activities to the Brownies, laying out the day’s events, and finally executing the day’s activities.
The goal of the first-ever WOW! & the Water Industry was to showcase the thriving water industry in Milwaukee to the group of Brownies and their troop leaders. We highlighted many potential careers they can explore as they enter the talent education network of possibilities. The Water Council has always had a goal of creating 100% awareness of water as a career opportunity amongst young talent, with at least 1% following a water career pathway.
The companies that participated in WOW! & the Water Industry included A. O. Smith Corporation, Ruekert & Mielke, Inc., Respect Our Waters, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and The Water Council. Each participant was asked to create a customized 15-minute activity that demonstrated what their company does within the water industry, and discuss their individual roles and education at their respective organization. We are so appreciative of everyone’s time and willingness to step-up and help out during this event. There were others who wanted to participate, but the time that was allotted did not work out. We plan to host at least one, maybe two, of these events per year and further coordinate with the SE Wisconsin Girl Scout organization. Ultimately, we are hoping to implement a Water Technology badge, in coordination with the Girl Scouts.
The activities ranged from word searches, flood plain models, making basic water filters, to team work exercises. Nearly 50 local Girl Scout Brownies, ranging from 7-10 years old, participated in the event, learning about the water industry in Milwaukee, how they can participate in it in the future, and overall, witnessing the awesome things happening at Global Water Center I. At the end of the day, each Brownie was presented with a Water Technology Certificate of Achievement and Water Council pin.
About Colin Flanner
Colin started with The Water Council as a high school intern in 2014 and has grown to serve the team in assisting with various projects, including database projects, assisting at the annual Water Summit, general events, building tours, and helping coordinate various talent-related activities. He also serves as the liaison between The Water Council and its network of student chapters. Colin is currently studying Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is the Professional Development Coordinator for the School of Freshwater Sciences Student Water Council.