Elizabeth Rich

Shifted careers into the water industry

Elizabeth RichAfter working around the country for 20 years in the zoological industry as an educator and zookeeper, in 2018 Elizabeth Rich moved back to San Diego. 

For a time, Rich ran her own equestrian education business. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, business dried up. She decided to change careers to something more resilient to economic ups and downs and chose the water operations industry. Her first stop was Cuyamaca College’s Center for Water Studies (CWS), which provides specialized training for technical careers in the industry.

“I looked at the Cuyamaca program and I’ll tell you, everyone has just been fantastic,” said Rich, a 51-year-old San Diego resident who lives with her family in Oak Park, just west of Lemon Grove. “There is only a finite amount of fresh water available, so the wise use of that resource is vital,” Rich said. “When I started looking into the CWS programs, I knew I wanted to be involved in water conservation activities either as a recycled water plant operator, water conservation technician, or possibly in an education/communication capacity.”

Rich had saved some money to transition into a new career, but $500 scholarships in fall 2021 and spring 2022 – both from the Watton Scholarship for the Center for Water Studies – was welcome help.

“It means that my hard work is being recognized,” said Rich. In August 2022, she began her new job as a communications assistant for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee.


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