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If you’re looking for a way to improve as a utility industry professional and learn alongside your peers in project-based online courses, then consider the Pro-UVM Certification Program through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Adam Warf, a UAA Board Member and Utility Business Developer and Consultant, experienced the value of the courses supported by the UAA and Utility Vegetation Management Association when he enrolled during the initial beta program in 2017.

“At that time, I was in a place in my career where I was moving out of the field and into a management position,” Warf recalls. “This felt like the perfect opportunity for me to expand my skill set and get a better understanding of overall UVM program management.”

Professionals designed the 100% online curriculum to enhance career development. Course leaders teach students what they need to implement, manage and sustain a utility vegetation management (UVM) program. Those enrolled can earn certificates and a credential in three separate phases. The focus includes applying the industry’s best practices related to safety, integrated vegetation management (IVM), project management, and sustainable utility corridor planning.

“The layout of the course allowed for collaboration across everyone involved,” Warf says. “I learned a lot about UVM challenges across North America, and discovered UVM techniques from around the world.  I guarantee something you learn in this course will help improve your company’s UVM program.”

“When I started in vegetation management, I knew nothing about what I was getting myself into,” says Amanda Opp, a Certified Utility Vegetation Management Professional (CUVMP) at Flathead Electric Cooperative, and UAA Board Member. Opp has a degree in civil engineering and initially worked as a Geographic Information System Specialist. Then she saw an ad for UVM Management Certification, which at the time was taught through Southern Alberta, Canada.

“It was the best decision I ever made. I had 29 mentors built into the class who were telling me about projects at the biggest utilities. You hear how they audit crews and why it’s an important component of the program; how they run contracts and why it’s critical to do it one way versus another. I learned who the stakeholders are and how to engage them. I wouldn’t be where I’m today in my program without those people and connections.”

Today, Opp facilitates courses remotely through UW-Stevens Point, and she learns something new every time she leads a Pro-UVM course with her students. “They’re teaching me as well,” she says.

“All of the Pro-UVM courses had immediate impacts on my career,” says Matt Goff, UAA Board Vice-President and Vegetation Manager with an investor-owned utility (IOU) in the southeast U.S. “While working on the course load and networking with my classmates, I was able to apply our assignments to challenges that I face each day. The benefit of the courses was immediately realized in my everyday work.”

Goff encourages anyone to further their career by enrolling in Pro-UVM Certification. Having a peer group of people to lean on was invaluable to him. The expansion of his professional network continues to pay off long after he graduated from the program, and the credentials he earned demonstrate excellence of a higher standard.

“Our communities expect us to be stewards of the resources we manage. We should be able to discuss the expected outcomes of our management plans with stakeholders rather than simply report results. The Pro-UVM program helps us understand how a process-driven approach to problem-solving can help each manager balance the numerous inputs that must be considered, so that we accomplish our objectives in a sustainable manner.”