July, 2023, saw the inaugural FRESHwater program.

The program was a great success and 20 High School students from Iowa were able to attend the program, learn about the Water/Wastewater field and engage with various professionals.

The program involved the help of professors and postdocs, two hired counselors who are ISU undergraduates, and several other logistics staff.

Most mornings were spent doing field trips to local water/wastewater facilities, including the Ames Water Treatment Plant, the Ames Water Pollution Control Plant, and the Tedesco Environmental Learning corridor which uses innovative stormwater management. During those visits students were able to experience the wonder of seeing fascinating facilities and processes that are often unseen as well as meet many operations and city staff and learn about various career opportunities.

We also visited the offices of two local consulting firms, FOX Strand and HDR. Their staff gave presentations on what consultants in the water/wastewater field do, projects that they’ve completed, how drawings and specifications are made, other positions/roles that go into making projects happen, and internship/shadowing opportunities. The students were especially excited to see projects from their home towns (such as Marshalltown) and learn things about them that they didn’t know before.

Most afternoons the students were in the lab at ISU. The students were split into small groups of 3-4 students. Half the students built sand/anthracite column filters for water treatment. They retrieved water from Lake Laverne and measured various parameters such as dissolved organic carbon and how it changed by modifying different variables, such as flow rate. The other half of the students built lab-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs), decided on sequence timing, and took measurements such as ammonia to evaluate removal efficiency.

The students prepared posters describing their experiments and presented them in a poster session on the last day of the program.

FRESHwater was also held concurrently with another on-campus program called Amazing Roots, which focuses more on agriculture, and students from both programs were able to do evening social activities together such as roller skating, bowling, and a movie night.

The students were very much energized and excited about the water/wastewater field. Even the undergraduate counselors and other staff commented on how they learned so much that they didn’t know about the Water/Wastewater field and are excited to learn more.