JA JobSpark 2018 took place on September 25-26 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and was an opportunity for 8th grade students to learn about all of the job opportunities and career paths they can take. KERAMIDA’s Genevieve Willman, Staff Engineer, organized and recruited a team of our professionals to volunteer at this large-scale, two-day event. Since this could be the first exposure that some of these kids would have to the opportunities in the environmental consulting field, Ms. Willman thought it would be a great way to share our expertise and passion for what we do.
KERAMIDA’s environmental professionals wanted to share with the 8th graders some of the interesting projects we work on and what kind of education and path they can take to get there. At the event, we spoke with them about options such as engineering, chemistry, geology, earth sciences, and many others within the environmental field. Ed Joniskan, Senior Manager in our Land Division, also designed several great hands-on learning experiences for the students to explore.
Stationed at our booth, KERAMIDA’s team presented the students with a mock Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. We challenged them to become environmental detectives and find the contamination at the “site” (our booth). We walked them through contaminants such as VOCs, PAHs and Metals and what it means when they are found in the soil and groundwater. The goal of KERAMIDA’s interactive display was to familiarize the students with common and everyday chemicals that may lead to environmental hazards if released to the soil and groundwater. We then showed them how we would develop a plan to remediate and clean up the site based on the information found in the field. We really wanted to show them the relationship between the work in the field and the work in the office and how both are equally important. We also had a 2-D and a 3-D topographic map on display in order to show the students different ways to visually observe a site and how the topography can play a role. We wanted to express to the students how important figures and maps can be for a project.
We received a lot of positive feedback from both students and teachers that attended the JA JobSpark event. Many students we spoke with didn’t know that our field was an option for them, and enjoyed learning more about what we do. Over the course of two days, JobSpark saw just under 10,000 students. We’ve already come up with a few ideas on how to make next year even bigger and better!
Special thanks to our wonderful KERAMIDA volunteers: Genevieve Willman, Ed Joniskan, Bill Pickard, Jay Nickel, Ann Reiter, Mike Devir, Chelsea Conduitt, Jamie Warren, and Diana Ludwig!