Minuteman High Profile: Jennifer Pederson
As executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), Pederson has helps Environmental Technology Students at Minuteman High.
The following feature was provided by Judy Bass, communications specialist for Minuteman High School in Lexington.
Jennifer Pederson, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), has served on the Advisory Committee of Minuteman High School’s Environmental Technology program for the past three years. She has been working closely with this program since 2008 to incorporate drinking water curriculum into Career and Technical Education (CTE) at Minuteman as well as at several other schools in Massachusetts that offer an Environmental Technology major.
“The MWWA has a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reach out to high schools with environmental and scientific programs,” said Pederson. “Minuteman is the leader in getting drinking water curriculum into the curriculum frameworks of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” said Pederson.
Pederson has been a “tremendous asset” in terms of helping the Minuteman High program get its new module on drinking water up and running, according to Environmental Technology instructor Terry Regan.
“For the past three years, she has come in and presented an introduction to drinking water technology to our students, including potential career pathways, and helped schedule visits to several local drinking water facilities where students can get a first-hand look at the technology needed to make our drinking water safe,” Regan said. “She has also coordinated a DEP/EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) grant program, which provided internships to several Minuteman students during the summer at local drinking water facilities, and also reimbursed the school for the cost of students taking the exams. She has been a key member of Environmental Technology’s Advisory Board.”
Each CTE program at vocational high schools such as Minuteman is required by state regulations to have an Advisory Board comprised of professionals currently active in that field who provide advice to instructors and administrators about curriculum, equipment, and other relevant topics. The role that Advisory Board members like Pederson play is crucial in ensuring that curriculum stays on trend and is always state-of-the-art.
Pederson, who is from Littleton, Mass., has a BA in Philosophy / Public Policy and Political Science from UMass Boston, and an MS in Political Science from Suffolk University. “I worked for a municipal utility in customer service and through networking heard of the opportunity at MWWA,” she said. “This job allows me to combine my utility experience with my interest in public policy as there are so many laws and regulations affecting public water suppliers.”
What Pederson enjoys most about her position is “working with our very dedicated volunteers to advocate on behalf of water suppliers throughout the state.” The biggest challenge, she said, is “balancing human needs for clean, safe drinking water with concerns over environmental degradation of water resources.“
Pederson is assisting Minuteman and other schools in establishing the new drinking water curriculum to help train students in the field of drinking water treatment and distribution, thus preparing them to take the Massachusetts Grade 1 Treatment Plant Operator’s License Exam. “It will be one more feather in their cap as they get out of school,” said Pederson.
The job outlook for future operators is expected to be very strong over the next five to ten years in Massachusetts, as well as throughout the United States and worldwide.
Pederson has been instrumental in arranging field trips to drinking water facilities such as the MWRA water treatment plant in Marlboro, as well as water treatment plants in Burlington and Billerica and arranging for a variety of guest speakers who have spoken to the students about subjects such as water pumps, treatment processes and EPA and Mass. DEP regulations.
Pederson had emphatic praise for the professionalism and dedication of the Minuteman Environmental Technology students, calling them “interested and engaged” and noting their ability to present themselves effectively to potential employers.