Baldwin students participate in signing day for Riviera Utilities internship program


LOXLEY, Alabama — Thirteen students from five schools in Baldwin County participated in a special signing day on Tuesday, May 4 at the Loxley Civic Center.

Unlike a traditional signing for athletic or academic college scholarships or even the traditional military signing day, Tuesday’s signing was for students joining the workforce through the Summer Utility Internship Program.

“This is the initial program that we hope to see expand through other partners into all areas of Baldwin County,” said BCBE Career Technical Education Coordinator Kendall Mowdy, principal of the South Baldwin Center for Technology in Robertsdale.

The program is part of National Signing Week for career tech students and is an opportunity to put the spotlight on those students who are joining the workforce, Mowdy said.

“I think it’s important that we place a spotlight on these students who are looking to advance a career as well as students who are choosing college or athletics,” he said.

SUIT is a workforce development initiative offered to rising high school seniors in Baldwin County interested in pursuing careers in engineering, finance and utility services.

Interns will be employed by Riviera Utilities, complete online technical safety training, and work directly with supervisors and other regular employees. Safety sensitive tasks will not be performed by interns, but they will be allowed to observe and learn through verbal instruction.

The 13 students, representing Daphne, Elberta, Foley, Spanish Fort and Baldwin County (Bay Minette) high schools, were selected from a group of 54 applicants who, with the help of BCBE career coaches, applied for the job they were most interested in pursuing.

“These students were interviewed and screened by Riviera Utilities supervisors just like regular employees,” said Dr. Sharon Cureton, Riviera Utilities administration manager. “These are the best of that group and we are proud to have them as members of the Riviera Utilities family.”

Cureton said the program is a culmination of a coordinated effort between Riviera Utilities, the Baldwin County School System and the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Commission (SAWDC).

The purpose of the project is three-fold, Cureton said:

  • To provide local high school students with valuable work experience while learning basic, industry specific skills.
  • To identify and develop a talent pipeline for future employment and educational opportunities.
  • To expose local high school students to technical and administrative careers, specifically at a public utility.

“We wanted to be able to do something more to attract young people into the workforce,” Cureton said. “This is something we’ve been on for working years and in the middle of a pandemic, it all came together.”

Bridgett Wilson, executive director of SAWDC, said the program was an opportunity to make a difference in workforce development through difficult times.

“I became executive director of SAWDC just as the governor was ordering schools to shut down last March,” she said. “We began thinking, ‘What are we going to do that will have an impact on our local community and this is definitely the highlight of a year of hard work between all of our partners.”

Each student will be assigned an experienced Riviera employee mentor to assist them with on the job training and guidance through the internship.

Interns will meet with their career coaches and HR representatives at Riviera Utilities regularly and will be given the opportunity to meet and learn alongside other interns in the program.

“This is just a wonderful program that I believe will help me gain valuable experience no matter what I decide as a career in the future,” said Hailey Buchanan, a rising senior at Elberta High School. “This is just a great opportunity and I am excited to be a part of the program.”

Buchanan will be working alongside supervisor Gia Long as a cashier in the Foley office of Riviera Utilities this summer.

Signing days are typically known for being for those in athletics, but more and more companies are holding signing days to promote the workforce. Baldwin County Public Schools, in partnership with Rivera Utilities and SAWDC, would like to invite you to a very special signing day offered to rising seniors in Baldwin County interested in pursuing careers in engineering, finance, and utility services. 
The Summer Utility Internship Program runs for nine weeks, covering six positions across six different departments within Riviera Utilities scope of services.

Andrew Yazzie of Bay Minette, a rising senior at Baldwin County High School, will be working with supervisor Ryan Quinley as a storekeeper in the warehouse at Riviera Utilities in Daphne.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to work and my hope is to be able to work here while attending college and eventually join the Marine Corps,” he said. “This is just a great opportunity for me to gain experience in the workforce.”

Additional students in the program include:

  • Daniel Haskew, Baldwin County High School, groundworker, Daphne under supervisor Justin Frasier.
  • Cole Boyington, Foley High School, groundworker, Foley under supervisor Billy Doege.
  • Anders Bjorkner, Spanish Fort High School, engineer technician, electric, Daphne, under supervisor Gunner Reaves.
  • Savannah Williamson, Elberta High School, engineer technician, electric, Foley, under supervisor Brian Huskey.
  • Dakota Owens, Elberta High School, engineer technician, gas, Foley, under supervisor Danny Scott.
  • Cooper Niebuhr, Foley High School, engineer technician, water/wastewater, Foley, under supervisor Jason Skelton.
  • Logan Bagley, Daphne High School, gas operator, gas, Foley, under supervisor J.W. Adams.
  • Rucker Beasley, Daphne High School, gas operator, gas, Foley, under supervisor J.W. Adams.
  • Matthew Lambert, Daphne High School, field operator, water, Foley, under supervisor Lee Robinson.
  • Paige Jones, Foley High School, field operator, wastewater, Foley, under supervisor Tony Darling.
  • Cameron McCrary, Daphne High School, storekeeper, warehouse, Foley, under supervisor Tom Williams.

Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler said the program is an opportunity for continued expansion of workforce development in Baldwin County schools, with plans to break ground on a new comprehensive Career Tech High School this summer.

“Through partnerships with businesses like Riviera Utilities and SAWDC and through our partnership with Coastal Alabama Community College, I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us in the future,” he said. “I’m also excited and extremely proud of these students who are giving up nine weeks of their summer to better themselves and I’m looking forward to following their progress through the weeks ahead.”