Recent Graduate Gained Valuable Experience Interning at Beinhower Bros. Drilling

Jake Smith

Summertime officially begins on June 21, and so with it the season of part-time help, apprenticeship programs, and internships taking place in the groundwater industry.

Jake Smith, who recently graduated from Otterbein University with degrees in environmental science, environmental health and safety, and sustainability studies, interned in 2021 at Beinhower Bros. Drilling Co. in Johnstown, Ohio, about 30 miles northeast of Columbus. The company never had an intern before Smith inquired.

“Jake expressed an interest in a future position as a teacher or regulator rather than a drill operator or technician,” says Brad Ulery, president of Beinhower Bros. “Therefore, his work with Beinhower Bros. was different than a potential permanent employee.

“My intent was to expose him to what a regulator or professional in the industry should know. There can be a difference in what you learn in class or what job specifications say than what it actually takes to do the job right. I believe Jake also benefited from interactions with our customers. They can vary significantly—from wanting to know how something works to economic choices.”

Smith, who also minored in earth science and graduated a semester early in December 2021, now has a better appreciation for hard labor after working alongside the small team of employees at Beinhower Bros. from May to August 2021.

A hands-on learner, Smith’s role included:

  • Conducting multiple pumping tests on residential, commercial, and industrial wells
  • Inspecting in-home water treatment and installed new equipment such as softeners and iron filters
  • Troubleshooting and repairing old pumps and assisting with drilling of new wells
  • Conducting water quality testing, which included hardness, salinity, iron, sulfur, and total dissolved solids.
Smith’s senior research project was the creation of a homeowner’s guide for water wells. Image courtesy Smith.

“It was cool because one day you’re pulling 450-foot drop pipe that had the pump stuck at the bottom and the next day I’d be at the drill site where they’re putting in a new groundwater well for a pond or something,” says the 22-year-old Smith. “My other friends—one is going to be an accountant; one is going to be a doctor—it’s just a 9 to 5 thing. That’s not what I want.

“I want to be in the field. I want to be hands-on, and I like that every day is different. I have stories to tell. Even though we are all helping people in our own sense, I just would rather spend it in the field.”

Smith recalls one of the first days seeing Beinhower Bros. pulling up drop pipe in 20-foot sections from a well that waters football fields. What Smith saw next stuck with him.

“As we were getting deeper and deeper, it went from iron and then the manganese—it went from orange to black,” he shares. “It was iron bacteria and manganese bacteria on my hands, and it was slimy. I was like, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘It’s fine, it’s just bacteria.’ And I was like, ‘OK, cool.’”

The son of a science (father) and social studies (mother) teacher, Smith credits Kevin Svitana, Ph.D., professor of biology and earth science at Otterbein University, for nudging him to take on the additional majors.

Smith says the hydrogeology course that Svitana taught was the most influential and engaging of all his classes. Svitana is also an instructor for the National Ground Water Association.

“I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done and taught me,” Smith says.

Smith began working full-time in the groundwater industry in March this year as an environmental technician for Cox-Colvin & Associates Inc. in Plain City, Ohio. He works in the field about 20 to 35 hours each week, conducting surveys, collecting groundwater samples, and entering data.

“It’s pretty cool that all the different type of jobs are different. It’s pretty fun,” he says.

A love of nature began early in life for Smith, who spent his childhood summers visiting Canada with his family. He now has a desire to protect it so he can enjoy the outdoors when he starts a family.

“Maybe I can’t be in the OR [operating room] or save you from the IRS kicking in your door, but I know I can be out there serving by collecting groundwater samples,” he says. “That’s something that really drives me personally.”


The NGWA Career Center at allows job seekers to post their resume, view jobs, create a personal job alert, and set up a job seeker account and access it.

Employers and recruiters now have access to your specialized niche. Among other things, employers and recruiters can view resumes, post jobs, and create an employer account and access it.

Click here visit the NGWA Career Center.

By Mike Price