RMC Student Kathy Urffer Wins Two Awards for Documentary

Congratulations to AUNE Resource Management and Conservation student Kathy Urffer, who has won two awards for her public-service documentary, “Understanding Brattleboro’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade.”

Kathy and the Town of Brattleboro were named co-recipients of the New England Water Environment Association’s (NEWEA) Paul Keough award for excellence in public relations. Additionally, her video won first prize in the category of Issues and Political Process from the Alliance for Community Media Northeast.

In 2009, as a practicum student, Kathy worked with the engineering firm chosen by the Town of Brattleboro to coordinate and oversee major upgrades to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. She made the documentary as the chief component of a public outreach initiative to educate residents about the need for the project prior to a town meeting vote on a referendum for a multimillion-dollar bond issue.

Kathy had no previous experience as a filmmaker, but created the video as a volunteer with Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV), a public access station, using its equipment and editing software. The film consists of interviews and footage, as well as clips from a 2002 town video about the history of wastewater in Brattleboro.

“It isn’t complicated. It’s pretty straightforward,” she said. “I included as much information as possible to make it transparent so everyone could understand the need to upgrade the treatment plant. It’s an expensive project and affects all residents connected to the sewer system.”

The documentary was aired often on BCTV, and Kathy regularly provided updates about the project on the Town of Brattleboro’s Web site.

“By the time we got to the vote, everyone was pretty receptive to it. The bond vote passed. It was very close to unanimous,” she said.

For her achievement, Kathy received the ACM award at the 12th annual Alliance for Community Media Northeast Region Fall Film Festival on November 13 in Concord, New Hampshire. In late January 2011, she and Steve Barrett of the Brattleboro Public Works Department will be presented with the Paul Keough Award for excellence in public relations at the NEWEA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Boston.

Kathy, who completed her master’s project on storm water analysis of the Brattleboro Co-op redevelopment site, hopes to graduate from AUNE in November 2010. She plans to focus on water advocacy.

AUNE congratulates Kathy for her superlative work.

View Kathy’s documentary here.

About the Paul Keough Award
This award was established in 1994 in memory of Paul Keough, in recognition of his leadership and efforts to communicate to the public the need to protect the water environment. Mr. Keough was a reporter for The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA, prior to joining the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency where he started as a public affairs officer and worked his way up to regional administrator. The award is given for excellence in public relations.