September 2020 - Jeff Smudde
President’s Message: Virtual in 2020
Greetings to my fellow wastewater colleagues. As I’m writing this message just a few days after Labor Day, the weather has cooled substantially, providing a sneak peek at the fall weather that will soon be upon us. As we all know from living in Wisconsin, this cool weather brings beautiful fall colors, and countless fall outdoor activities including camping, fishing, and hunting. This is a great time to get outside and enjoy the fall weather before winter is upon us and snow begins to fall.
I’d like to give everyone a preview of what the 54th Annual WWOA Conference will look like this year. With COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic conditions, the Board was able to successfully cancel the contract with Kalahari Resort and begin transitioning to a virtual conference platform. This will allow WWOA to continue to provide the education and training opportunities for wastewater professionals throughout the state, in alignment with the core functions of the organization. The Board of Directors has been meeting frequently to adapt the conference program to this virtual format, and we’re excited to bring this unique opportunity to the membership. The 54th Annual WWOA Conference will be held virtually October 20-22. Conference registration and dashboard will be hosted using the Pheedloop platform, with the keynote, technical sessions, and business meeting via Zoom. The Pheedloop platform will allow for an interactive virtual exhibit hall, providing an opportunity for exhibitors to display their products and services, display short video clips, connect with customers via chat, or even video chat to provide that 1 on 1 interaction everyone is more accustomed to. The annual awards this year will be presented to the recipients prior to the conference so photos and other methods of recognition can be shared with all attendees throughout the conference.
On Tuesday, October 20 the conference opens with a keynote presentation from Packer Legend Gilbert Brown during a fireside chat. Paul Kent will then present a hot topic – PFAS Legislation and Future Directions. After the two opening sessions, there will be four tracks packed full of educational technical sessions and opportunities to visit the exhibitors.
Wednesday will be packed full of 16 different technical sessions in 4 different tracks, along with opportunities to meet with vendors and explore their virtual booths. There is sure to be something to interest everyone.
Thursday the conference will offer 16 more sessions in 4 different tracks and the annual business meeting held at 11am. Attendees are strongly encouraged to participate in the annual business meeting to elect new officers for the WWOA Board of Directors as well as vote on changes to the WWOA Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and membership fees. Attendees will be asked to submit comments and questions in advance so they can be addressed during the meeting. Voting will all take place using the polling functions on Zoom for those in attendance.
Attendees will have an opportunity to earn 12 wastewater and general septage credits and 11 water credits. This is sure to be the best virtual conference WWOA has ever hosted, so don’t miss it! Visit wwoa.org to register today.
As I’m writing this final message as President of WWOA, I’m reflecting back on this past year, which truly has been quite unusual. Who would have ever guessed a year ago that we would be faced with all of the challenges presented to us? Over the past year I’ve been privileged to work with a very talented and dedicated group on the Board of Directors. They all deserve to be recognized for their additional time and commitment over the past 8 months as the pandemic began affecting things. During this time we’ve all learned to function like a family. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of this WWOA family to help guide the organization through these challenging times. I would be remiss as I extend my gratitude if didn’t recognize many of the past presidents that I’ve called upon this year for advice, and especially my family at home. The photo I chose to share for this final message is of my family, who has supported me for the past 7 years while I was on the Board, and most particularly during some of the very trying times this year. I thought it was only fitting to recognize my WWOA family as well as my family at home that have played such an important role.
It has truly been an honor to serve as president for this great organization and I’m looking forward to serving on the Board one more year as Past President. I have utmost confidence in the Board members following behind me, that they will continue to help advance WWOA for many years to come.
Best wishes, stay safe, and stay healthy,