Through an innovative new program launched in February 2016, the WaterHub at Emory University is proving its success beyond wastewater reclamation as a “hub” for community outreach. While the system primarily functions as a water reclamation facility, the Student Docent Program utilizes the WaterHub as a platform to engage communities across the country in water awareness. WaterProof’s Editor, Natalie Zvanya, had the opportunity to interview Taylor Spicer, Student Docent Program co-founder, to learn more about the success of this new initiative.
Supported by Emory’s Campus Services, Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) and Sustainable Water, Spicer explained the goals of the Docent Program:
- Make the one-of-a-kind facility open and available to all: Emory, local, national, and even international individuals and groups;
- Explain the WaterHub’s innovative technologies and their environmental, research, and educational purposes; and,
- Train Emory students to feel comfortable and confident while acting as the public faces of the facility.
When the Program started in February, OSI interns initially took on the role of student docents as an addition to their current schedules. Now, Spicer mentioned that the Program has generated more interest from students in the environmental science departments and the Goizueta Business School. “Three undergraduate students came to me to be tour guides because they were so impressed by the facility and its impact.”
Spicer stated the Program offers the docents the opportunity to meet other interested students and professionals who have similar interests; become the on-campus face of the facility and serve as a resource to their peers and professors; and gain professional skills, especially in the area of verbal communication. “I love the second day of training when the students start to work with the tour script,” said Spicer. “It is one thing to listen to someone else talk about the technology; it requires entirely different skills to be the one describing the benefits and process.”
Nearly 1,000 people have toured the facility and this number is anticipated to grow significantly with the Program tours operating Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the fall semester. People from across the country have toured the facility, with professionals from various market sectors including other universities and colleges to airports, engineers, architects, local governments, and more. “Most are intrigued by the possibility of limiting the use of potable water for non-potable uses – they leave the tour talking about different water conservation opportunities,” Spicer commented.
“The Student Docent Program increases access to the WaterHub for the community to learn about the importance of water conservation and stewardship,” says Spicer. “We hope [the WaterHub’s innovation] sticks with them when they are making future decisions about water use at home and at work.”
Published September 29, 2016