Providing training opportunities at the chapter level

Carol Estes, P.E.
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City Office

Many APWA chapters have committees which "mirror" national technical committees. Often arising out of "user groups," these chapter committees provide forums for the discussion of common problems, promote networking opportunities, and offer both members and nonmembers access to technical education and practical demonstrations. If you would like to provide training opportunities for your members and are interested in attracting new members, consider the way the KC Metro Chapter found a way to do both.

The Infrastructure and Right-of-Way Management Committee of the KC Metro Chapter, which has a common interest area with the Utilities and Public Right-of-Way (UPROW) national Technical Committee, recently held two training opportunities for its members and other interested persons. Both activities were extremely successful and resulted in "lessons learned" which could be duplicated by other chapters.

Last March the group hosted a one-day Subsurface Utility Engineering Seminar that focused on ASCE practice 38-02. Those attending ranged from persons who knew little about the ASCE practice to those who were interested in applying the approach to projects. Committee chair Murv Morehead invited James H. Anspach, P.G., to speak at the day-long session. Anspach, currently serving as the chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Construction Standards Council, chaired the committee that wrote the standards. The presentation attracted 75 participants who represented design firms, public agencies, utility companies, and members of the committee. Support for the seminar was provided by the Mid-America Regional Council, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Kansas City area. Professional Development Hour (PDH) certificates were awarded to those completing the seminar. Participants took home a new understanding of the standard, the levels that can be applied, and knowledge of the cost savings to be gained.

In April, the same chapter committee provided a practical demonstration of Horizontal Direction Drilling, or HDD. Committee member Monty Zimmerman was in charge of a project to run a fiber-optic line from the City of Lenexa's main line to a local historic site as part of his regular work assignment. Recognizing that the activity could be used for learning purposes for other persons responsible for right-of-way operations, Monty suggested to the chapter committee that another learning opportunity could be used. A local directional boring equipment supplier agreed to demonstrate their products, discuss best boring practices, and highlight safety practices and inspection procedures for any interested persons who could attend. Both members and nonmembers were invited to attend and were able to do so over the course of the four-hour time frame. The demonstration provided practical information and the opportunity to network with APWA members.

Both experiences provided useful lessons for providing local training and networking opportunities. Committee chair Murv Morehead and committee member Monty Zimmerman offered these tips for a successful training event:

  • Begin by forming a user group or chapter committee interested in one or more subject. A user group has the advantage of bringing in nonmembers.

  • Look at partnering with an MPO or other organization that may be able to provide support (meeting room, staff a registration table, advertising, mail list, etc.).

  • When possible, use scheduled work for a teaching opportunity.

  • Talk to equipment providers about possible demonstrations.

  • Be aware of "seasonal" workloads. The off-season is best for training.

  • Allow four to six weeks of advance notice on opportunities and a final reminder one week before the activity.

  • If you have questions about a construction method, others do also.

Murv Morehead is Right-of-Way Manager for the City of Overland Park, Kansas and chair of the Right-of-Way Management Committee of the KC Metro Chapter. Monty Zimmerman is Right-of-Way Manager for the City of Lenexa, Kansas and secretary of the committee.

Carol Estes, P.E., can be reached at (800) 848-APWA or