TGIF: This Group Is Fun

Hello. I am Kanhchany from Cambodia. I feel very privileged to share with you what I have experienced with the YSEALI SUSI Program on July 17, 2015 here in Missoula, Montana.

The first fabulous activity I would like to mention here is our group visit to Wastewater Treatment Facility and Poplar Water Reclamation Project.
The facility was about 20-minutes’ drive from UM campus. When we arrived there, we were welcomed and given a tour around the plant by Mr. Gene Connell, the Plant Supervisor. He was such an articulate and informative person. He guided us throughout the facility, from one generator to one generator, and informing us all about water treatment process.

Wastewater is being on the treatment process.​

According to Mr. Gene, all the wastewater from the households, small businesses, and restaurants in Missoula come to the treatment plant through the buried sewage pipes. The wastewater needs to go through 2 main steps of treatment. When the dirty water first arrives into the plant, it will be pumped up in the headworks. During this step, trash and gravel will be removed. Then the water will continue to go through ‘’primary treatment’’, this process removes everything heavier or lighter than water which is half of the pollution. After that, they go to the ‘’secondary treatment’’ which is a biological process, and biology in the system consumes the pollutants. After this process, the biology will be harvested out, leaving clean water. The residuals are also treated, and they will be made into eco-compose, which they will be eventually used as fertilizer for farmers to grow their crops.

Mr. Gene is explaining us about the wastewater treatment.​

The treated water will not be just entirely released back into the river. The city government also has created a project nearby the facility called, ‘’ Missoula Hybrid Poplar Water Reclamation Project’’. What the project is exactly about is they use about the 15% of the treated water which means 1 million gallons a day to water the poplar trees. Those poplar trees are expected to be harvested in 12 years which would resulted into 2-million-US-dollars profit. This project did wow me because this is such a one-stone-kills-two-bird idea. Instead of releasing all the treated water back into the river, and letting it produce unneeded nutrients that might hurt the water quality, the project now helps turn 15% of the water from the plant to irrigate the poplar trees.

Having a tour around the the Poplar Trees Farm​

Another significant activity of the day is pulling weeds around the poplar trees. After listening to Mr. Gene and having a big tour around the facility along with the project site, our YSEALI group was finally be able to experience some manual labor. We were divided into small groups to pull out the weeds that were sprouting near the poplar trees. Personally, I would say that this activity is one of the most fun and educational parts of YSEALI program. Not only did the students get the chance to work together as a team and strengthen their relationships, we were also be able to lay our hands on real physical work, and taste the true American volunteering spirit!

Having dinner at the FLAT House with the UM Environmental Studies students is the last fabulous activity of the day. FLAT is an acronym which stands for Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology. I felt very fortunate to be invited to dine in such a place. Although the house looked just like the typical houses in America from the outside, the compound of the house was incredibly stunning. The house had a vegetable garden which was jam-packed with a huge variety of both green and red vegetable that appear in Asian cuisine. Attached to the neighbor’s fence was what I called the ‘’ chicken house’’ that accommodated four adorable chickens that lay eggs for Nick almost every day. Beside the marvelous garden and chicken house, the house also had solar panels installed to its roof, a classical oven made from clay, mud, and hay to roast s’mores, and a very warm studio room.

In spite of the fact that there were other activities also take place on this Friday that were not mentioned here, and kept all the YSEALI SUSI participant busy almost all day long, this group of people ( including me) never forget to have some entertainment. After our dinner at FLAT, my YSEALI group wrapped up our day with a mini country dance party. Therefore, I cannot think of a better title for my blog post on this Friday except TGIF: This Group is Fun!!!

For more information about July 17, 2015 activities, please check out my simple video at:

Thank you for reading this post.




One thought on “TGIF: This Group Is Fun

  1. such a wonderful information, I can review and learnt a lot from your blog, Kanhchany =)))
    PS: Do you mean TGIF is thank god it’s Friday”


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