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Wastewater education team wins award for inclusive youth employment

By November 15, 2021June 13th, 2023No Comments
Students in the Clean Water Ambassador teen intern program stand in front of a building with masks on
Students in the Clean Water Ambassador teen intern program

King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) was presented with the Youth Employer of the Year Award from the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE) on October 26, 2021. This award recognizes employers who make efforts toward inclusion of people with disabilities in employment.

In a virtual celebration, WTD staff members Kristin Covey and Siena Ezekiel and Becca Kedenburg from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust received the award for their work leading the Clean Water Ambassador teen intern program.

This year, the program partnered with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB). Two youth from DSB’s Remote Internship Program for blind and visually impaired (BVI) teens joined the internship program, along with their job coach. Washington DSB staff continued to serve as a resource throughout the program.

WTD’s Education team could not have asked for better partners. “DSB graciously answered our many questions and shared useful resources to help us make the program as accessible as possible for their youth,” said Kristen Covey, WTD’s intern program co-lead.

The team initially felt uncertain about navigating new terrain during the pandemic and thought they might be taking on too much. But the team quickly realized how achievable accessibility and inclusion can be.  

“Our biggest takeaway is realizing how easy it can be to remove some of the barriers that make internships and workplaces inaccessible to BVI students,” explained Siena Ezekiel, King County program co-lead. 

After the groundbreaking program wrapped up for the summer, DSB stepped up to nominate the King County for the award and was there to congratulate the team.

“Thank you for everything Kristin!  You and your team absolutely deserve this award and I’m glad the Governor’s Committee agreed,” said Dan Misch, King County Program Manager.

WTD’s Education team is looking forward to continuing this successful partnership and improving access and inclusion in the internship program. “We are planning to involve DSB each year in the Clean Water Ambassador program, and also to work with them for other program opportunities,” said Education Director Susan Tallarico.

WTD appreciates our partners at Washington DSB and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for helping to expand the ranks of Clean Water Ambassadors. We couldn’t do it without them!

Screenshot of Clean Water interns holding up pieces of paper with words that show what actions they are committed to taking after the program ends
Interns share their commitments to take action during the final online meeting

Visit Water Education for more information about King County’s regional wastewater utility and our education programs.