Treasure Valley WTS celebrates progress and looks forward

March 11, 2013

The Treasure Valley Chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) held their Annual Awards Banquet on January 31, 2013 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Almost 90 people attended the event, which bestowed five awards to deserving individuals and firms. Winners were chosen based not only on their efforts to advance women in transportation, but also because of their commitment to the community.

HDR received the Employer of the Year award and URS Corporation was honored with the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award for the US 95 Sand Creek Byway. Tracy Olsen of HDR received Member of the Year and Clair Bowman of the City of Nampa received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Each of the honorees is now eligible for WTS International awards. The big draw, though, says incoming Treasure Valley WTS President Monica Crider, is Transportation Leader of the Year. This year that honor went to Brian Ness, Director of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).

“The transportation leader category does not align with WTS International’s awards, but we think there are plenty of leaders out there that should be acknowledged for what they’re doing,” says Monica. “All awards are given through nominations, and this is the most we’ve ever had. The word is getting out and people are competing.”

Monica became a member of the Treasure Valley WTS shortly after its founding in 2007 and is proud of how prominent the organization has become in Idaho’s transportation community. As president, her goals for 2013 include increasing their 37-person membership by 10%, retaining and increasing agency and corporate partners, and continuing to work toward the 2014 goal of raising $10,000 in scholarship monies for future transportation professionals. Having attracted many new partners already and raised over $1000 at their first silent auction, the WTS board and committee volunteers are well on their way to achieving them.

“Of course, we recognize that two important elements that we bring are the networking and professional development opportunities,” Monica says. With this in mind, the Treasure Valley WTS plans to offer a four-hour training program on the Americans with Disabilities Act sometime this year—likely late spring or summer—that will offer credits toward professional development hours. They are also planning to host a Meet and Greet and other monthly programs this year. “Opportunities to get involved and enhance your professional skill set are abundant among all our different initiatives and committees. Just contact any WTS board member if you want to actively participate,” states Monica.

The chapter not only supports current transportation professionals, but also has a number of important ongoing initiatives that are aimed at educating school-aged students about the industry. Transportation YOU is a mentorship program for girls in middle and high school that seeks to spark their interest in transportation and encourages them to take courses that lead them into technical fields. This year, Treasure Valley WTS will initiate their Transportation YOU program with a goal to send a mentor/protégée team to Washington DC for WTS International’s annual DC Youth Summit in 2014.

Treasure Valley WTS has also started their own program, the Youth Transportation Academy, that involves students of both genders in real transportation projects. The program has already ushered groups of students through two successful projects and a new group of seven students in grades 8-11 is currently choosing the third, which will likely focus on bicycle infrastructure.

Monica is very excited about these programs and what they could mean for the future of transportation. “It may be something that you said or the experience or activity opportunity you gave them that makes them choose a future career in transportation. Presently, the students are learning important skills that are critical for being successful in any career, such as understanding deadlines and the importance of teamwork. I am glad that WTS has initiatives that facilitate learning,” she says.

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