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Darlene Helmig selected as June 2024 Missouri Department of Natural Resources Team Member of the Month

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JUNE 26, 2024 – Darlene Helmig, a unit chief with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Environmental Quality, has been selected as the department’s Team Member of the Month for June 2024. She was selected for her service to the department and her efforts to implement computerized testing for water and wastewater operator certifications.

As part of her usual duties, Helmig supervises the operator certification unit within the Water Protection Program’s Public Drinking Water Branch. In 2022, she developed a proposal to secure a third-party contract to provide computer-based testing for water and wastewater operator certifications. While computer-based testing had long been considered as a possibility, the post-pandemic focus on remote work and learning garnered a serious look into making it a reality.

Once a contract was secured, Helmig lead her team as they worked with the contractor to test and implement the new program. After many months of weekly meetings with the contractor to resolve issues, the first computer-based tests were given in June 2023.

Computer-based exams offer a faster timeline from application to certification and feedback has been very positive. During the 2023 testing period, the operator certification unit processed 976 applications for computer-based exams out of an estimated 1,800, which is a great example of interest in the program.

The program’s success eventually led to a switch to 100% computer-based testing in August 2023. Now, individuals can self-schedule exams and choose between in-person or remotely proctored exams, both of which offer immediate results.

“Darlene brought her determination and high standards to the implementation process and did not allow anything to slip by,” said Lance Dorsey, a section chief who nominated Helmig for the award. “She is always focused on maintaining high standards and great customer service for operators in Missouri.”

Helmig joined the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in August 1998 and resides in Belle.

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