The drinking water industry is bracing itself to lose a significant portion of its knowledge base due to retirement within the next 3-5 years. In response to these retirements, NCCHS class of 1991 graduate, Darrell King, solicited the assistance of Illinois Section American Water Works Association and Unit School District 187 to address this challenge. Thus, a partnership was forged, providing a wonderful opportunity for students interested in the water treatment industry. The “Operator in Training” pathway (OIT), a pilot for the state of Illinois, became a reality this past January. Nine students are currently being trained to sit for the recommended Class D licensure examination – to establish an industry knowledge foundation. Along with Darrell King, NCCHS staff members: Tara Cook, Trendelle Vaughn and Volunteer Academic Coach, Lisa Lerner are spearheading the in house efforts, to make sure that students remain on track toward success. In addition, the City of North Chicago has joined this effort to provide summer employment opportunities for students participating in the pathway.