Educational activities: NEHA 2009 AEC & exhibition.Over 200 educational sessions in two learning formats covering 23 areas of environmental health, five off-site educational tours, five preconference workshops, and three professional credentialing courses--all this occurred in less than a week. Where else is so much educational content on environmental health offered in such a short span of time? As one attendee stated, "Nowhere else will you get so much for so little. The wealth of knowledge exchange and the opportunity to savor new and renewed friendships are unparalleled. It was worth every penny in these very lean and trying times."
In addition to the interactive Learning Laboratory sessions introduced last year, this year's AEC & Exhibition included a suite of new features that attendees took full advantage of. In novel H1 N1 Influenza Outbreak sessions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts and professionals from health departments and private organizations explored the science behind H1N1, challenged policy issues involved with it, and shared with attendees strategies used to deal with the outbreak. Another first at this year's conference was the Food Safety Summit, in which regulatory and industry representatives involved in food safety explored integrated approaches to the topic. The Food Safety Summit session room was standing room only for four hours straight, as attendees listened to and engaged with regulatory and industry professionals on salient issues such as exploring sustainability in food safety, global food safety, and collaboration between inspectors and retail operators.
Given the unprecedented changes in the economy this year, NEHA could not ignore providing education to attendees on how they can best get through and succeed during these hard times. The new Government Structure sessions addressed issues such as how to work with state legislators, how to manage unlimited demands with limited budgets, and where environmental health will be in the future. Also, given the current drive to ramp up one's own set of skills to be less expendable in the workplace, NEHA specially developed and designated 25 sessions throughout the conference as "professional development" sessions, where, regardless of the attendee's specialization, practical tools and knowledge could be learned and directly applied in the workplace. Examples of such professional development sessions included alternative outreach methods and how environmental health professionals can effectively use social media tools in the workplace.
NEHA was honored to have extensive CDC involvement in this year's conference educational program. In addition to the distinguished keynote speaker, Dr. Howard Frumkin, CDC provided several other experts to present on pertinent topics ranging from home-based environmental interventions in improving asthma morbidity to public health considerations for drought. To top it off, on the last day of the conference CDC opened its campuses to NEHA conference attendees. Three CDC tours were arranged free of charge, where attendees obtained a unique inside look into the workings and research of the world-renowned Emergency Operations Center; Geospatial, Metals, and Pesticides laboratories; and Public Odyssey Museum. Elizabeth York, CDC's chief sustainability officer, also spent one-one-one time with tour participants discussing her role in leading CDC's sustainable business practices efforts. She explained how CDC plans to focus on the link between sustainability and health and to develop materials for use by health departments to implement sustainable practices within their own organizations and communities.
The Lecture Hall and Learning Laboratory sessions continued to be the backbone of the educational program at this year's conference. In the Lecture Hall sessions, attendance was very high where subject experts presented on topics such as Halal from the environmental health perspective, integrating homeland security target capabilities into environmental health programs, bed bugs and green buildings, and indoor air quality and health.
In the more interactive Learning Laboratory sessions, attendees packed the room at the sustainability sessions that explored both sides of the climate change debate and presented an inside look into what CDC is doing to prepare the nation for climate change. Examples of some other popular Learning Laboratory sessions included a mock deposition of a restaurant inspector, learning how to help raise the visibility of environmental public health by developing good educational materials, lessons from the field, and techniques for assessing and managing mold after a flood. One attendee commented that "In my experience, NEHA as an organization and as a provider of educational material and courses for the environmental professional is the most valuable resource available in the industry."
The five preconference workshops offered before and during the start of the conference covered timely topics such as better communication techniques for trainers, NSF Plan Review, guidance on moisture and mold for environmental health professionals and health practitioners, environmental health training in emergency response, and the newly introduced Environmental Public Health Tracking! A solid array of NEHA credentialing courses and exams were also held, including Certified Professional of Food Safety (CP-FS), Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS), and the newly introduced Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) manager training.
Other organizations that NEHA was honored to have provide educational sessions at the conference included the American Academy of Sanitarians (AAS), the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs (AEHAP), the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), NSF International, State Onsite Regulators Association (SORA), and the Uniformed Services Environmental Health Association (USEHA).
NEHA's 74th AEC & Exhibition is June 6-9, 2010, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark your calendars! As one attendee aptly put it, "If you're not in Albuquerque, you'll be a turkey."
* ambient air quality,
* children's environmental health,
* drinking-water quality,
* emerging pathogens,
* environmental health leadership development,
* environmental health research,
* environmental health tracking and informatics,
* food safety and protection,
* general environmental health,
* H1N1 influenza,
* hazardous materials and toxic substances,
* indoor air quality,
* injury prevention/occupational health,
* institutions and schools environmental health,
* new government structure
* onsite wastewater systems,
* solid waste,
* swimming pools/recreational waters,
* terrorism and all-hazards preparedness,
* uniformed services,
* vector control and zoonotic diseases, and
* water pollution.
NEHA's Technical Section Chairs
NEHA extends a special thank-you to the 2008-2009 technical section chairs, who were instrumental in the development of the educational sessions at the AEC & Exhibition:
* Air/Land--Terry Beebe, EHS;
* Children's Environmental Health--Don Herrington, RS, and M.L. Tanner, HHS;
* Drinking Water Quality/Water Pollution--Robert Vincent, RS, MPA;
* Emerging Pathogens/Vector Control and Zoonotic Diseases--Mike Lester, RS, MPA;
* Environmental Health Leadership Development-Ken Sharp, REHS;
* Environmental Health Research--R. Steven Konkel, PhD, AICP, FRIPH;
* Environmental Health Tracking and Informatics--Greg Kearney, MPH, DrPH, RS;
* Food Safety and Protection--Michele Samarya-Timm, MA, REHS, CHES, DAAS, HO, and Steven Lipton, Med, LEHP, CPFS, MSJS;
* General Environmental Health--Tracynda Davis, MPH, and Christopher Hinz, RS;
* Hazardous Materials and Toxic Substances--Priscilla Oliver, PhD, and Sheila Pressley, MS, REHS, DAAS;
* Injury Prevention/Occupational Health--CDR Donald B. Williams, REHS, MPH, DAAS;
* Institutions and Schools Environmental Health--Terrance B. Gratton, DrPH, DAAS, RS, and Milton Morris, REHS, DAAS, CP-FS, (ABD)PhD;
* Onsite Wastewater Systems-Craig Gilbertson, RS, and Brent Reagor, RS;
* Sustainability--Thomas R. Gonzales, MPH, REHS; and
* Terrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness--Mike Allred, PhD, and Martin Kalis, MA.
Not Able to Attend the 2009 AEC & Exhibition?
You have several options if you could not attend the conference and need continuing education. You can purchase the conference CD online at www.neha. org. The CD contains almost 50 presentations from the conference, plus session abstracts and attendee, speaker, and exhibitor lists. Also, several sessions presented at the conference were taped and can be accessed in the near future for free, online via the NEHA e-Learning site at www.neha.org. Continuing education credit can be earned for viewing both products.