Apr 18, 2024

Interview with Manager of Youth Education at Denver Water - Matt Bond

Written by Adele B., high school River Ranger at The Greenway Foundation, age 18

Water educator Matt Bond demonstrates a water activity with studentsMatt Bond is currently the Manager of Youth Education at Denver Water, right now he is also working to manage some community outreach as it relates to larger construction projects. Essentially Matt is working in public affairs at Denver Water. Most of the time, however, Matt is working with students in the classroom “to help educate the next generation of water users to be better water citizens in Colorado and Denver.” Matt has worked at Denver Water for 25 years! First starting during the summers in college working in the field fixing pipes, laying pipes down, and handling other water emergencies. He says that having had this field experience makes it easier to explain to customers what is happening when they call with questions. Matt worked in the field for 11 years before transitioning to a position in public affairs, while working summers Matt had realized how working in public affairs “was about taking everything I loved about understanding the water system to the general public.” Now with spending most of his time educating youth Matt said “it is so fulfilling to provide that community service of educating them on where water comes from.” During a normal year, Matt’s days would involve going to schools and teaching, or visiting a Denver Water site with a class as a field trip; this year everything has been made virtual.

Matt’s favorite thing about working with kids? Kids use water too! Matt says that for water education or consciousness the target audience is always adults, he loves that he gets to work with “the customer base that gets the least amount of attention. Because kids are just as much the water user that adults are.” Matt explained that with students and youth, the biggest thing is showing that using water is like spending money. In a normal year during a treatment site visit or classroom Matt would be taking the basic water cycle that we all know and explaining how it works in Colorado. “Because here in Colorado we don’t have any water coming in, we have water going out, so we talk about how Denver gets the water that we all use everyday.”

For people looking at water careers or environmental careers Matt says, “there are a billion careers or jobs out there that you have no idea exist that can be really specific or unique or in an area that hasn’t even been thought of yet.” So, instead of learning for a job, Matt suggests ‘learning how to learn’. Matt explained that if you can learn how to learn, you can always find something to do; and you can then take any information and go where you want it to take you. But, if you are interested in water Matt said, “there’s never a shortage of people to teach about water.” Matt also suggests that to learn more about jobs in the water field looking into different departments that exist in every town such as “local water utility, storm water department, waste water department, waste water plant.”

I asked Matt about misconceptions people have about what he does to which he said there are two. The first being that people “think that I just go talk to kids all day. Like, one, it's easy to do, two, like there is no thought put into it, and three, they think it is scary to talk to kids.” Which is part of why Matt loves working with kids so much, because they can be so easily underestimated. Matt explained the second one as, people not thinking about the water industry. Meaning that some people think “somehow it is a miracle or magic that water comes out of your faucet and it isn’t contaminated when you turn it on.”

Finally, to close out the interview, since Matt works so closely with youth that are just starting their education or beginning to join the adult world. I wanted to hear what Matt thought would be an essential experience for all graduating high school seniors. Matt said “I wish that every student could travel internationally and see how other people in other parts of the world live their daily lives just like we do. The basics of human life are the same everywhere, but how is it different there and the same.” Obviously, Matt is talking about the similarities and differences in water usage!