Outstanding Young Professional Award

The Outstanding Young Professional Award was inaugurated in 2008 and recognizes an individual or individuals who are pursuing excellence in their careers and have made a valuable contribution to A&WMA by serving in a leadership position. To be eligible, a candidate must be a young professional working in the environmental profession. A young professional is defined by the Association as being 35 years of age or younger.
A&WMA presents the 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Award to Ryan Ozment.
Not even one month into Ozment’s post-collegiate job, a coworker named Dallas Baker approached her with an idea—she would step into his role of Secretary for the Mississippi Chapter of A&WMA, while he carried on his duties as Association President. That opportunity turned into five-and-one-half years of service with the organization.
Starting in September 2014, Ozment began her tenure as Chapter Secretary through December 2015. After learning the operations of the Mississippi Chapter, as well as attending the Association’s Leadership Training Academy, Ozment introduced tools and procedures for streamlining board meetings, standardizing membership tracking and analysis, and modernizing membership outreach through newsletters, webpages, and social media.
From the beginning of her A&WMA involvement, Ozment served on the Mississippi Chapter and Southern Section Scholarship Committees. Over five years, she has facilitated the presentation of over $20,000 to graduate students pursuing careers in the environmental field across the Southern states. Taking after her mentor, Pleas McNeel, and his commitment to education and empowering young professionals, Ozment created and chaired the Mississippi Science Fair Award Committee. The committee established the Justice Manning Award for Environmental Excellence. The high school science fair award and cash prize (honoring Justice Manning and his 54 years of continuous membership) is given to projects that address issues of environmental responsibility and sustainable development at the seven regional and statewide fairs. The prize quickly grew in the three years since Ozment established it, and the Chapter has awarded almost $1,000 to high schoolers across Mississippi.
In 2016, Ozment was elected Vice Chair of the Mississippi Chapter. In an effort headed up by the Chair, Betty Ruth Fox, and herself, the Chapter established the annual and well-attended event “Breakfast with the Regulators.” The Chapter-sponsored event serves as a conduit for the regulated community to submit questions anonymously to be fielded by heads-of-staff from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in a panel discussion format—all while sipping coffee and eating chicken biscuits. Also during her term as Vice Chair, the Mississippi Chapter hosted the Southern Section Annual Meeting and Technical Conference. In addition to soliciting speakers, moderating panels, and organizing a Young Professional Dinner, she also took the lessons learned from the event (hosted by the Chapter every four years) and assembled a Conference Operations Manual.
In 2017, Ozment assumed the position of Chair and worked diligently to continue advancing the ground work the Mississippi board established. Manufacturing facility tours, brewery and distillery social events, Young Professional socials at minor league baseball games, and brown-bags were executed and enjoyed. Some events were coordinated with other organizations such as the Mississippi Manufacturing Association and the Mississippi Bar Association’s Section on National Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law. In an effort to revitalize the student chapter within the state, the board contributed funds to provide memberships to university board members and cover food for events.
As Chair and Past Chair, Ozment promoted sending fellow board members to the A&WMA Leadership Training Academy and advocated for financing the trips. Her term as Chair resulted in a Chapter Cup Award (which was the third year in a row for the Chapter to receive). She concurrently held the position of Past Chair to the Mississippi Chapter and Young Professional Chair to the Southern Section in 2018, and she continues to serve the Section as YP Chair.
Ozment received a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering with an environmental concentration at the University of Mississippi and will soon complete her master’s in Engineering with a water resources concentration at Mississippi.

Ryan Ozment