National Apprenticeship Week Spotlight – Betty Green
Betty’s career in the water industry started by running across a high school classmate she had not seen in 10 years. As they talked about how long it was since they last saw each other and catching up, he asked where she was working. At the time, she was working in construction as a Roller Operator and Bulldozer Operator, with her commute being 250 miles a day roundtrip. He told Betty about his job as the Chief Operator at the wastewater treatment plant in Emporia, Virginia. He took her on a visit to the plant and she was very impressed because she did not know much about wastewater or water treatment.
After touring the plant, he told Betty they had an opening for a trainee position and asked her to apply. She got the job and has been going strong ever since. Betty was a single mom with three children under 10 years old at this point. Within the first year, she obtained her operator’s license and was on her way to a rewarding career. She was the first woman the city had ever had in this position. Betty also did part-time work for the rest of the county and was the first woman to work for them as a licensed operator as well. Betty has achieved many ‘firsts’ in this industry as a woman.
Betty has worked at nine different wastewater plants throughout her career in Virginia, Washington D.C. and New York. Although Betty did not expect to move around that much in her career, she was grateful for the opportunity to move around to be closer with her family. Betty also went back to school after she began her career and graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Aquatic Science from Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia.
“This industry has offered me the chance to provide for my family in a way that I could have not imagined,” Betty said. “I have had many mentors and still gaining mentors and knowledge every day.”
Thirty-two years later, she is still progressing in the industry. Betty thinks this industry is so diverse that anyone can pick a niche and go in any direction. She found her niche in training and looks forward to going to work every day. She now trains operators across Virginia as the Workforce Coordinator for the Virginia Rural Water Association.
“This has been so rewarding to give back to the industry that has taught me so much and given me such a fulfilling career,” Betty said. “Anyone can enter this field and be successful, because there are so many different avenues to take.”