Greater Piedmont REALTORS® (VA) Use Rural Outreach Grant for Onsite Septic Field Trip

Greater Piedmont REALTORS® (VA) Use Rural Outreach Grant for Onsite Septic Field Trip

May 2024

In the four rural Virginia counties served by Greater Piedmont REALTORS®, no two properties are alike, but there’s a good chance they have a well and are on a septic system.  Understanding the different types of such systems and the regulations governing them is crucial for real estate professionals operating in the area, so the association offers its 575 members an annual CE course covering the all the bases.  In August 2023, it stepped-up the game by adding an optional field trip to three different septic sites.  A Rural Outreach Grant from the REALTOR Party supported the bus, and the excursion was a huge hit.

Greater Piedmont REALTORS® CEO Debbie Werling explains that in Fauquier, Culpeper, Madison, and Rappahannock Counties, it’s very common for properties to have water supplied by a well and a septic system to manage waste.  “Expertise in these things is a skill set specific to country REALTORS®, and we make sure that our members are equipped with the knowledge they need, including all the requirements and regulations associated with different types of systems.”  For years, the association has provided a relevant course, free of charge, organized by Werling and Cassandra Harrison, who is Greater Piedmont REALTORS®’ Professional Development Director.  Both breakfast and lunch are brought in by affiliate sponsors, and participants receive two hours of CE credit; an additional half hour is budgeted for Q&A – “There are always lots of questions!” notes Werling.

The course is taught by Mike Lynn, a local septic management provider with deep expertise and experience; among his many roles in the industry, he serves as chairman of the Sewage Handling & Disposal Advisory Committee of the Virginia Department of Health.

The high level of interest among members led to a next-level innovation in 2023: “Mike is an amazing instructor,” says Werling.  “He’s not just an expert, but he’s also very effective at conveying information, and because of his work in the field, he has access to actual sites in our region and was willing to lead a field trip.  After learning about a drip system, a conventional system, and an alternative system in the classroom, our members got to see them in context, and it clearly helped to drive the morning’s lessons home,” she says.  34 participants took part in the afternoon excursion, including several cars that followed the bus that was filled to capacity.

The field trip helped REALTORS® to identify potential issues that may arise with septic systems, including age, maintenance, and compliance with local regulations.  “It made for a long day, and it was a hot one, too, but everyone had a great time.  They were so excited to see what they had learned in action, including one system that was problematic and was being fixed by Mike’s team,” reports Werling.  She adds, “The response and excitement exceeded my expectations – and I have high expectations!”

Anonymous comments on the evaluation form confirm the enthusiasm: “This field trip, coupled with the class, was such a great idea and really helped me visualize and make sense of what I learned.  Having never seen some of these systems before, I now feel comfortable explaining them to my clients and better equipped to handle any septic situations!  Amazing!”

Greater Piedmont REALTORS® is grateful to the REALTOR® Party for the Rural Outreach Grant program, says Werling.  “We put it on the flyer promoting the course and let everyone know that the field trip was free, thanks to NAR!  It really made a difference in the kind of program we were able to offer our members, and they will be able to better serve their clients, because of it.”

To learn more about how Greater Piedmont REALTORS® is taking members out in the field to enhance their understanding of issues specific to rural real estate, contact CEO Debbie Werling at or 540.347.4866.

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