Rachel Watson, Microconstituents Committee Chair
Rachel Watson is the chair of NEWEA’s Microconstituents Committee along with being a member of both the Government Affairs and Young Professionals Committees. Being a relatively new member of NEWEA and New Englander doesn’t stop Rachel from diving head first, bring exciting ideas and goals to the organization
Though a relatively new member of NEWEA, Rachel is a member of three committees: Microconstituents, Government Affairs and Young Professionals. Rachel is excited about contributing to the organization and has jumped in head first, taking on the role of Microconstituents Committee Chair as of the 2018 Annual Conference. She has two major goals for the committee in the coming year. The first is to plan a dual specialty conference with the Residuals Management committee. The second is to reinvent or at least reinvigorate the Microconstituents committee.
Rachel and Vice Chair Laurel Schaider have embarked on a journey to learn more about their committee members’ priorities and interests. To gather information, they have asked their 30 members to reply to a survey. The survey includes questions like: how active do you want to be? Why did you join the committee? From the results of this questionnaire they hope to find new ways to breathe life into a committee that was on the verge of sunset. Though final results have yet to be tallied, they are optimistic from the responses received to date. Responses include recommendations such a public outreach opportunities, as well as a new committee activity – webinars – and they already have their first one planned for the end of the summer.
You might ask, what is the back story of such a motivated young professional? Rachel is not only new to NEWEA but also New England. She grew up and attended undergraduate and graduate school in New Jersey where she studied water and wastewater engineering. As an undergrad, she received an award for excellence in Environmental Engineering for being at the top of her class at Stevens Institute of Technology. Though she continued her graduate studies in the field of environmental remediation, an internship with Stantec would ultimately bring her into a career in water and wastewater engineering in New England.
As is always good advice, Rachel recommends to others new to the field – don’t be afraid to ask questions. She has the mindset that if you want to succeed it is important to reach out. Your colleagues and mentors want to see you succeed, because when you grow and succeed as an individual or as a member of a team the whole organization can benefit and ultimately succeed. It is in everyone’s best interest for you to ask questions. In addition to her professional endeavors at Stantec and volunteer work at NEWEA, Rachel participates in the Hartford Chorale, a not-for-profit chorus organization in Hartford, CT. She also volunteers at Grow Hartford, an organization that focuses on bringing safe, nutritious and affordable food to members of the community through urban farms, youth outreach programs and a mobile farmers market.
To further learn about farming, Rachel recently attended a conference on the subject. At the conference, she made connections with a group planning a trip to Bhutan, a lesser known Asian country located in the Himalayan mountains. One of the very interesting things about Bhutan is that they do not measure success by GDP, they measure it by gross national happiness. They are also one of the planets’ only carbon negative country, as they prioritize investments in green energy and forestry. Rachel was able to join the group on their visit for two weeks. While visiting she had the opportunity to meet with several government ministers, such as the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and the Minister of Watershed Management. She hopes to share what she learned about sustainability and water management with Stantec and NEWEA.