Anyone familiar with the small town farm life, knows there’s a few fundamentals that make for an easier day: working hard, enjoying the outdoors and getting your hands dirty to get the job done.

“Operating heavy equipment, growing up on a farm, from heavy machinery, don’t cut your finger off safety wise, working outdoors, that’s how I grew to like being outdoors. This job fits perfectly into that,” Madison Water Utility Public Maintenance Worker Taylor Voeltz said.

While she may not be on her family farm three and a half hours north west of Madison, just straight east of Minneapolis, Minn., in Glenwood City, Wis., anymore, Voeltz uses those farm fundamentals every day working for the City of Madison Water Utility.

“I love my job. A lot of it is the people you work with, and the [Madison] Water Utility has been a family, from day one …” Voeltz said. “…Being able to drive a big truck, having a CDL [Commercial Driver’s License], and a little kid sees you and says, ‘oh my gosh, you drive that thing?’ I think, ‘yes you can too—if you want to do it, do it, put your mind to it!’”

Voeltz started at the City of Madison Streets Division in 2019, then, moved to the Madison Water Utility in 2021 to grow, advance and learn new positions. Voeltz started as an equipment operator and was promoted to a public maintenance worker. Voeltz said the career progression and promotion opportunities are two benefits of working at the City, something she didn’t realize would be so great until she was hired.

“You think back to how things were—and looking in you think, ‘oh, I couldn’t do that job because I’ve never seen a woman do it, or ‘I’ve never seen someone like me do it,’ with all the different aspects of who we are,” Voeltz said. ‘But, with this department and the City of Madison, if you’re interested in something enough, you can learn it. People are here to teach you. I’ve learned more than what I’ve ever thought I’ve ever wanted to learn … I’ve never stopped learning really.”

Learning something new at the Madison Water Utility also led her to another title: First Place Champion at the 2022 Hydrant Hysteria with her teammate and co-worker Michaela Reed.   

“Learning the inside of that [a fire hydrant] was fun and exciting—and I didn’t know half the amount of parts that come out of there, and now I do,” Voeltz said.

Hydrant Hysteria is a competition where teams work together to assemble a hydrant as fast as they can. Voeltz and Reed took first place and will compete in Canada in June to represent the Madison Water Utility.

“I learn something every day. Every valve is different. Every hydrant is different. Every main leak is different,” Voeltz said. “Working at Madison Water Utility and being able to fix water mains, and getting down dirty in the hole, water flying everywhere, you can’t be afraid to get dirty! That’s another piece of advice.”

From the dirt in downtown Madison to the family farm dirt in Glenwood City, Wis., advice Voeltz holds close comes from someone also familiar: her mother.

“She always said, always be positive, even if it’s a crappy situation, find the positive in it, work together as a team—things can get frustrating…” Voeltz said. But if you keep a positive attitude about it, it’s an easier day, even if things go south, it’s always going to be OK.”

Voeltz still works hard, still enjoys the outdoors and still gets dirty, those farm fundamentals may have changed in life fundamentals, all the same making for an easier day and an enjoyable career.

The City of Madison is highlighting the work of five women during National Women in Construction Week March 5-11,2023.