KRWA Recognizes First Apprenticeship Graduate


Two years ago, Zack Caudel attended the National Rural Water Association’s annual Water Pro Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.  He sat in the audience and watched as NRWA recognized the first Water Systems Operations Specialist to graduate from the NRWA Apprenticeship Program (through the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water).  A week prior to that, Zack had signed on as Kentucky Rural Water Association’s first apprentice enrollment in our newly registered program.  By signing his apprenticeship agreement, he made an official commitment to train as a wastewater apprentice.  Now, it’s Zack’s turn to be recognized as a graduate.

Zack has completed over 4,000 hours of On-the-Job (OJT) training.  He has also completed over 300 hours of Related Technical Instruction (RTI).  Zack has earned his Class II Wastewater Treatment License and is now eligible to sit for the Class III exam.  Further, Zack has earned a nationally recognized credential from KY Registered Apprenticeship and U.S. Department of Labor—Employment and Training Administration.

Congratulations to Zack Caudel—the first graduate of the KRWA Apprenticeship Program!

KRWA also recognizes Zack’s mentor, Roger Humphrey, for the guidance he has provided throughout Zack’s training.  Finally, KRWA would like to thank David Peterson, general manager at Caveland Environmental Authority, for believing in this initiative and for making Caveland the first Participating Employer in the KRWA Apprenticeship Program.

Apprenticeship provides a road map to success— from an entry-level job to a skilled position.  It starts with meaningful employment and provides a clear pathway to launch a career as a credentialed professional. 

Our program offers 2 tracks:  Water Systems Operations Specialist and Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist.  Apprentices work alongside an experienced technician for 2 years of hands-on training, allowing a transfer of knowledge specific to the utility’s operations.  The apprentice also completes a minimum of 288 hours of job-related classroom instruction. 

KRWA has been busy with outreach and recruitment efforts to grow the apprenticeship program.  One particular focus of KRWA’s efforts has been on those with an agricultural connection in the likelihood that they have: 

  • A desire and willingness to serve their local communities
  • An excellent work ethic
  • leadership development skills
  • An appreciation for a job that allows them to work outside, utilize critical thinking skills, and is not the same thing day-in and day-out
  • Experience with small, medium, & heavy equipment

This has included high school agricultural students, educators, and FFA program sponsors all over Kentucky.

The recruitment of Zack Caudel into the water industry is proof that we are not missing the mark on this target demographic.  In high school, Zack was an active member of FFA and held the office of President of the Barren County High School chapter. 

The FFA 2019 Annual Report stated that 33% of the agricultural education graduating seniors entered the workforce (in lieu of entering postsecondary education).  That number held steady in 2020.  Let that sink in—33% of graduating students involved in FFA have immediately entered the workforce.  Where are they going to work?  Do they know about job opportunities at their local utility?

The KRWA apprenticeship program provides a job opportunity for graduating students that want to move directly into the workforce.  Even those that are entering postsecondary education could benefit from this opportunity if they are planning to work while they are in school.