Family of Utah Sheep Farmers Take a New Career Path

November 27, 2018

Featured

Cody Snyder (back right) and his wife, Jill Snyder (back left), attend a county fair with their three daughters where their sheep are shown. Photo courtesy of the Snyder family.

Cody Snyder (back right) and his wife, Jill Snyder (back left), attend a county fair with their three daughters where their sheep are shown. Photo courtesy of the Snyder family.

After years of logging and sheep farming, Cody Snyder entered the wastewater sector. He may have started the career with simple expectations, but he developed a commitment to water that he has passed down to his oldest daughter, Jade.

“Truthfully, when I was 21, I was just looking for a job with good benefits,” Cody said. “And I knew the treatment plant would be a good place to start.”

When Cody took a job at the water reclamation facility (WRF) in Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District (Park City, Utah), he did not know the event would mark the beginning of a lifelong career.

Cody is now a superintendent overseeing the district’s two WRFs in a mountain resort community. During the past 2 years, a $50-million expansion and upgrade of the Silver Creek WRF has added complexity to the work. Ski season also contributes other challenges.

Jill, Cody, and Jade gather for a family picture. Photo courtesy of the Snyder family.

Jill, Cody, and Jade gather for a family picture. Photo courtesy of the Snyder family.

“Come winter, our float doubles with the added tourism, and the cold weather means the microorganisms [used to break down nutrients and organic materials] don’t work as well,” Cody said. “We have to double our counts to keep up.”

Cody has developed a reputation for being expert in wastewater. The 23-year Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member has served as a judge in the Operations Challenge at WEFTEC and competed four times nationally with Utah’s All-Star team.

Despite his national notoriety, Cody has not forgotten his roots in sheep farming. He remains active in his hometown of Peoa, Utah, where he raises sheep to show at 4-H events and manages land for the annual county fair. This is one way he stays close to his oldest daughter, Jade, who has entered sheep in 4-H competitions at the fair for the past 9 years.

“My daughter also began showing an interest in engineering from a young age,” Cody said. “I encouraged her to go into water because of its importance and necessity, and how interesting it is.”  

From 4-H to WEFTEC

Jade (center) participated in the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Student Design competition at WEFTEC 2018. Her Utah State University (Logan) team – Todd Keniry, Ben Sandberg, Dominique Bertrand, Avery Holyoak, and Ryan Dupont – stand with 2018–2019 WEF President-Elect Jackie Jarrell. Photo courtesy of Oscar and Associates.

Jade (center) participated in the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Student Design competition at WEFTEC 2018. Her Utah State University (Logan) team – Todd Keniry, Ben Sandberg, Dominique Bertrand, Avery Holyoak, and Ryan Dupont – stand with 2018–2019 WEF President-Elect Jackie Jarrell. Photo courtesy of Oscar and Associates.

Jade is now a senior at Utah State University (Logan), where she is studying civil engineering and is active in the student chapter of the Water Environment Association of Utah. She joined the university’s “Aggie Blue” student design team. During the WEF Student Design competition at WEFTEC 2018, the team presented their project proposal to maximize the anaerobic digestion process. Her team earned second place in the engineering category at the competition.

Jade explained how her knowledge of sheep came in handy as she studied cogeneration technologies. “The cogeneration process uses food waste to produce methane gas,” she said. “Using this method to run a treatment facility saves both money and energy.”

Jade attributes her interest in a water career to a variety of influences.

“My dad definitely guided me to wastewater when he took me on tours as a kid. I also met with an engineer at Carollo Engineers [Walnut Creek, Calif.] who educated me about the treatment plant design process. Learning about the process is so much cooler than people think,” Jade said.

Jade has completed three successful internships, including one with the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility in Salt Lake City. Next year, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering with a wastewater emphasis.

The joy of learning and an appreciation for how WEF supports it, appears to run in the family.

“WEF has been valuable to me because I get to network through training and education opportunities,” Cody said. “My favorite part is learning more about the equipment we use, which allows me to make more educated choices.”

— Mary Bufe, WEF Highlights

My Water Legacy Showcases Passing Along Tradition of Working for Water

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) shares stories about working in the water sector through the #MyWaterLegacy campaign. Launched at WEFTEC 2016, this effort brings attention to the value of membership, water sector leadership and innovation, and workforce development.

My Water Legacy articles in WEF Highlights feature members who have passed down the tradition of actively participating in WEF and working in the water sector.

Do you know a WEF member who has mentored others in the water sector or a family with multiple generations of WEF members and water sector professionals? Contact Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

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