During the week, a normal high school student would find themselves in class learning anything from math to history at 12:30 p.m.. I too, head off to class at that time, but not in your conventional classroom — my classroom is the Halton Waste Management Site, where as a co-op student, I get to learn all about waste diversion and management.
With plans to enter an Environmental Science university program in the fall, I couldn’t help but be excited when my co-op teacher presented me with an opportunity to work at the Halton Waste Management Site — except I had never heard of the Halton Waste Management Site before and had absolutely no idea what to expect or what I was getting myself into.
When I got here, I admit it — I was shocked. Up until a few weeks prior, I didn’t even know this place existed and yet here was this 311 acre facility right in front of me. I quickly learned that the Household Hazardous Waste Depot, Container Station, and Scalehouse that you initially see enter the site are only the tip of the iceberg of this amazing site.
Here, I learn outside, indoors, and even off-site from wonderful teachers, the employees. They share their knowledge and experiences, and allow me to have a taste of what they do on a daily basis.
Since working here, I’ve been able to try so many different new things, like assist customers in the Scalehouse, help out with the Compost Give Away, tag along with staff as they supervise waste collections, conduct surveys at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot and the list goes on.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have received this opportunity and engage in so many new experiences. How many other seventeen year olds can say they’ve driven a compactor before?
I’ve learned about the hidden intricacies of the system Halton has here, one that many people aren’t always aware of. I had no idea the landfill had a highly engineered liner and leachate collection system to minimize environmental impact, nor did I know that methane gas is collected from the landfill and turned into electricity to power approximately one thousand homes in Oakville.
My favourite part about working here as a co-op student is that every day is something new. I don’t have a set title and have had an opportunity to learn from Waste Management Services’ three work teams: planning, landfill operations, and collection operations. This has given me a vast understanding of the big picture. And it’s a big picture!
This co-op experience has been nothing but beneficial to me. I have learned not just about waste management, but also about the working world. I have been able to teach those around me how to recycle properly, and best of all, I have been exposed to so many different paths I can take after I finish my post-secondary education. I’ve had fun, met amazing people, and gained invaluable experiences that will continue to shape my future.
About this Guest Blogger:
Adriane Pong is a senior student at Craig Kielburger Secondary School in Milton and is doing her co-op placement at the Halton Waste Management Site to complete her Specialist High Skills Major in the Environment sector. She has plans to attend McMaster University in the fall and earn an undergraduate degree in Environmental and Earth Sciences without drinking any coffee.