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Learning much about wells
By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — When Mesquite Groundwater Conservation District (MGCD) announced its internship program this past spring, Wellington High School 2020 graduate Kimber Bawcom’s interest peaked.
Chosen by the MGCD board of directors, Bawcom began the internship, which tasked her with evaluating a new system for electronically filing water meter readings that may be used in the future to submit data to the district.
Because COVID-19 prevented students from returning to school, she fulfilled her internship hours and eased into a part-time position.
“I’m definitely gaining a different set of skills, and I have met a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve benefited from learning how to locate wells out in the field and record data. This job has helped me build work ethic as well.”
Bawcom began working 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and now she is working Mondays and Fridays.
Bawcom said the position has filled lots of extra time when sports randomly came to a halt.
MGCD Manager Lynn Smith said the water district is called to educate each generation.
“I feel like we need to tailor the needs to each generation as well,” Smith said. “While we didn’t have the funds for a full scholarship program this year, we came up with the means to provide a much better hands on experience but only for one person.”
The district created the student program and utilized the proceeds from penalties collected by the district to initially fund an internship, according to Smith.
“It was a trial run this year. Maybe we can intentionally budget the internship in the future or simply continue to use penalties to fund the program,” he said.
Penalties are collected from producers for failure to file water meter readings with the district in a timely manner.
“We may get $50 per day for each day a report is late,” Smith said. “We collected about $1,300 through a voluntary process that is designed to avoid the more formal and expensive hearing. Considering we have more than 400 reports due, I thought the compliance rate was fairly good.”
Smith complemented Bawcom on her punctuality and being an efficient employee.
Bawcom said she grew up with her dad farming, so she is familiar with the industry. Her parents purchased Bawcom Supply, a local farm and ranch retail store, in February 2014. Her grandfather, Leamon Bawcom, continues to be involved in farming.
During Bawcom’s internship, she made many trips with long-term field technician Troy Thomason. The duo traveled across Collingsworth and Hall counties and portions of Childress and Briscoe counties to check water meter and rain gauge data.
“I recorded the meter readings on an app on my phone electronically while Troy wrote down the numbers,” she said. “It’s a way of checking to make sure the app is working accurately before releasing it for use by the producers. I attended meetings, too, and learned so much about the aquifers.”
Smith said well water levels are measured annually to monitor their changes within the aquifers over time.
Bawcom said her goal is to eventually become a physical therapist, and soon she will be headed to Tarleton State University in Stephenville to begin her college career.
Smith assured Bawcom that he will provide a good reference for her when she seeks future employment, regardless of the profession she chooses.