Zachary Barker, Environmental Specialist

The Orange County Water District is very pleased to announce that Zachary Barker, Environmental Specialist, is the 2022 Employee of the Second Quarter

The Orange County Water District is very pleased to announce that Zachary Barker, Environmental Specialist, is the 2022 Employee of the Second Quarter.

While staying on top of his own assigned duties and responsibilities, Zach Barker has gone beyond the call of duty by exercising outstanding initiative and job planning to find time to provide extra training for new Water Quality Department staff.

When Zach was a new employee and learning himself, he created many checklists and step-by-step guidelines to assist with his own training period. These documents helped Zach to be very successful and effective in learning required tasks and skills. In recent years, when new employees have come onboard, Zach took it upon himself to help mentor and share his training guidelines and checklists. Zach’s efforts helped to result in a positive and effective training.

More recently in the past year, Zach has taken further initiative and gone the extra mile with the Water Quality Department’s two newest staff members. Although the specific responsibility of directly training the new staff on large vehicles and equipment was not assigned to Zach, he observed that additional training was needed and took it upon himself to help ensure the new staff had extra training and practice time on the vehicles and equipment. He spent quality time teaching each employee separately how to comfortably drive the large, manual-transmission hydraulic-rig truck (T-98), how to drive the large box-style trucks, and how to safely drive with trailers attached to vehicles. Driving the large trucks and driving with trailers can be challenging but it is a required skill for all field staff. Finding time to practice and get experience driving the vehicles or trailers can be limited due to the department’s very busy schedule along with recent COVID-19 restrictions/limitations. Zach adjusted his own schedule and workload and he planned time to help the new staff practice which has greatly assisted the new employees.

Zach is a natural trainer and the process he provided to the new staff has been very effective. Zach’s training style, mentoring, and guidance have greatly improved the ability and confidence needed to drive/operate department vehicles/equipment for each new staff member. With positive guidance, Zach even created unique driving drills to allow each employee to gain maximum “hands-on” and “real life scenario” practice time. Zach also took the time to create a special training log to document new staff’s learning opportunities logging hours practiced so the Supervisors can review and evaluate.

With Zach’s efforts, the new staff have been able to get many hours of guided training and practice much earlier than if they had tried to do it by themselves. New staff are now ready and capable to drive and operate all the department vehicles safely and confidently when assigned. This allows for greater flexibility for the department to assign field events to staff since everyone is trained on all vehicles.

The new staff have mentioned many times how they really appreciated Zach’s style of training and his willingness to assist them during their first year of training.

Congratulations, Zach!