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Rewarding Scholarship

At the fall conference this November, the Nebraska AWWA scholarship committee had the privilege of awarding over $6,000 in scholarships! We would like to tell you a little more about it.

One AWWA Operator Scholarship

The first scholarship was the first One AWWA Operator Scholarship (OAOS) awarded by the Nebraska Section. This went to Wayne Rickers of Beatrice Board of Public Works (BPW).

The Nebraska Section American Water Works Association (AWWA) became a partner in the Association's operator scholarship program, part of The Water Equation Campaign, in 2016. The program matches a Section's scholarship contribution, dollar-for-dollar, for the creation of this new scholarship. Two scholarships, each worth $1,000, are available every year. This is the first such scholarship to be awarded in Nebraska.

Scholarship award can be used for certification or licensure, two- or four-year water-related degrees, technical school programs, professional training programs, books and manuals, and operator-related conferences. In addition, each scholarship recipient also receives a one-year AWWA operator membership!

This year, the scholarship committee received one application and decided to award a $1,000 scholarship to Wayne Rickers. Wayne started working for the Beatrice Water Department in 1983 as a utility maintenance worker. He was promoted to a utility maintenance worker 2 in 1985. Then in 1997, he was promoted to his current position as a water technician. At this position, he is responsible for all water sample collections and record keeping, daily inspections of 12 wells, two overhead storage tanks, two underground reservoirs, and booster pump stations. He also keeps all records and checks daily the chlorination equipment as well as takes trouble calls for Beatrice's SCADA system. He also is required to update the mapping of our water system and makes or uses field drawings to make these updates. Wayne is probably the most-needed and valuable person to his supervisor and strives to keep the water system up and running property. Wayne now holds a Grade 3 and 6 water licenses. During his free time, Wayne is active with the Boy Scouts -- even though his son is not involved anymore within the troop. Wayne is married and has three children and three grandchildren.

We are honored to assist Wayne in his training endeavors, and would encourage you to inform other water operators who are wanting to participate in this scholarship. There are two $1,000 scholarships available each year. Additional information, including the scholarship application, can be found at awwaneb.org/committees/scholarship.

Wayne Rickers

(above) Wayne Rickers accepts his One AWWA Operator Scholarship

Wayne Rickers

Nebraska Section AWWA Scholarship Committee chair Craig Reinsch (left) with One AWWA Scholarship honoree Wayne Rickers

Liesen Scholarship

The second scholarship to be awarded was the Colonel Theodore A. Liesen scholarship. The Nebraska Section American Water Works Association established the Colonel Theodore A. Leisen Memorial and Training Endowment Fund in 1993 to encourage water industry professionals to obtain additional training and encourage graduate and undergraduate students to choose the water industry as their field of work. Leisen was one of the incorporators of AWWA and served as president from 1917-1918. He also chaired several national committees on public health and pollution. Leisen was named general manager of the Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) in Omaha in 1923 at age 59, and he announced his retirement in 1939, at the age of 74. Leisen returned to Detroit and died in 1944. In 1993, AWWA inducted him into the AWWA National Hall of Fame.

The scholarship committee received nine applications for Liesen scholarships and decided to award four scholarships of $1,000 each to the following individuals:

Mark Dethlefs currently attends the University of Nebraska - Omaha and is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering. His hometown is La Vista. Mark is a member of ASCE and participates as a committee member of the Santa Lucia Italian Festival. He is currently working with Ehrhart Griffin and Associates.

Shaobin Li currently attends the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering with an anticipated graduation date of May 2019. Shaobin is from Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. While at UNL, he has been active in the AWWA/WEF student chapter as the activity chair and publicity chair, has assisted in the golf events and field trips, and is a current member of both organizations since 2015.

Shaobin Li

Shaobin Li accepts his scholarship award

Zokhidjon Salakhadinov is currently attending University of Nebraska - Omaha and is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering, with an anticipated graduation date of December 2019. His hometown is Fergana, Uzbekistan. Zokhidjon is a member of ASCE and AWWA, and has volunteered at UNO's science camp (Aim for the Stars), UNO's 7 days of service for Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, and a Laboratory Host for the UNO chemistry workshop for Girl Scouts.

Zokhidjon Salakhadinov

Zokhidjon Salakhadinov accepts his scholarship award

Rami Ziara is currently attending the University of Nebraska - Lincoln pursuing a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. Rami serves as a Science Ambassador Volunteer with the US State Department and has been active in the AWWA/NWEA student chapter, including serving as president, among other positions. He is a member of ASCE, AWWA, and NWEA, and many other organizations.

Rami Ziara

Rami Ziara accepts his scholarship award

Group Photo

Student scholarship recipients

(L to R) Nebraska Section AWWA Scholarship Committee chair Craig Reinsch, Zokhidjon Salakhadinov, Rami Ziara, and Shaobin Li. Mark Dethlefs was unable to attend due to a scheduled examination.

Poster Competition

The third scholarship to be awarded was a student poster competition. The prize included a $1,000 reimbursement assistance to present the poster at the national AWWA ACE conference in 2018. There were three poster presentations by university students. The winner of this year's poster competition was Putri Sukmahartati (Ayse Kilic, advisor) of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, with a poster titled "Rainwater Harvesting System Scenario Analysis on Runoff Reduction Potential in Surabaya, Indonesia". We look forward to hearing about her upcoming experience.

A Word of Thanks

I would like to thank committee members Larry Andreason, Adam Darbro, Chip Haas, Rod Kirkland, and Mike Koenig, for their support and assistance this year.

Update -- received March 15th

Wayne Rickers recently completed his class and exam to achieve his Grade II water operator's license. After taking the class, and passing the Grade II exam, he also took and passed the Grade I exam. Thank to the OAOS opportunity, he was able to increase his knowledge and operator skill by two grade levels.