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Two Aspiring Professionals Reflect on Their First Professional Conference: The National Brownfields Training Conference in Oklahoma City, OK

19 Sep 2022 9:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Savanna Marino and Julia Farr, GEI Consultants, Inc.

Savanna Marino, GIT at GEI Consultant’s New York City office reports that she had the privilege of attending the 2022 National Brownfields Training Conference, supporting the Region 4 Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) provider.  “We kicked off the week with the Environmental Justice (EJ) Caucus, where participants had the opportunity to discuss EJ topics in breakout groups with the goal of sharing ideas with the conference sponsor, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” To facilitate this process, Savanna’s role was notetaker.  “Alongside the group facilitator, I listened, learned, and contributed to the discussion on Equitable Developments, then presented the groups findings to the room of 240+ organizations and administrators.  This was such an amazing event, which was then followed by a week of awesome and informative sessions by professionals from a range of factions/parties in and around Brownfields.  The topics covered in these sessions were topical and significant, touching on real issues involving not only the Brownfields industry, but the communities affected by these properties.  All of the attendees and presenters were so welcoming, and in particular, the Women in Brownfields session was uplifting, raw and inspiring.”

Julia Farr, EIT at GEI’s Woburn MA office calls the National Brownfields Conference in Oklahoma City, OK “an eye-opening experience and a great way to connect various technical and environmental professionals with small and large communities looking to transform their brownfield properties. This was my first time being at a professional conference as well as travelling to Oklahoma. It was inspiring to me how they were able to tie together the unique and various cultures of the Midwest and the state of Oklahoma with the national effort to remediate contaminated sites and repurpose them.”

Julia learned that the reasons for doing so are endless, but “it is important to allow the community to drive the project and be the leading voice, while we, as engineers and government agencies, provide aid as part of their tool kit.”   Savanna and Julia were at the conference on behalf of ICMA to help them support communities in EPA Region 4.  Julia reports that she attended the daily sessions and learned about hot topics in Brownfields; like it was for Savanna, the Women in Brownfields roundtable was “a very powerful conversation!” for Julia.  Perhaps the most rewarding part of the experience was meeting with the community leaders during the meet the TAB session and learning about their needs and “how we can help them achieve their community goals. Their immense appreciation for our support put into perspective the impact we can make by pursuing these projects and providing assistance.” On the last day of the conference, she  visited the First American Museum, winner of the 2022 Phoenix Awards. The museum was vibrant and interactive, bringing knowledge and awareness to the community of Native American history.  Julia  aspires to work on transformative projects such as that  one in her career.

Savanna and Julia are looking forward to the 2023 National Brownfields Training Conference in Detroit.

Posted September 19, 2022

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