Area high schools to learn from BGSU environmental health majors

Because other students are such effective communicators when it comes to reaching high school students, BGSU is enlisting current environmental health majors to share information about their field at their former high schools.

The Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs (AEHAP) has awarded $4,000 to BGSU to develop and implement the recruiting strategy. The award is made possible through a cooperative agreement with AEHAP and the National Center for Environmental Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We believe this project fits well with the goals of the grant, which are, ultimately, to increase the number of students enrolled in environmental health degree programs,” the association told Dr. Gary Silverman, director of BGSU’s environmental health and environmental studies programs.

The hope is that the high school students will enroll as environmental health majors at one of the three accredited undergraduate programs in Ohio. BGSU’s program is one of only 274 nationally accredited undergraduate environmental health programs in the United States.

The recruiting effort also dovetails with Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s plan to enhance Ohio’s economy by enrolling and retaining more college students in the state and preparing them for the work force.

Assisted by program faculty, BGSU environmental health majors will develop presentations about opportunities available to students majoring in environmental health and graduates of such programs. They will visit the high schools they graduated from, leaving promotional materials behind for students and college counselors.

Visits to 20 high schools are planned over the next two years. “We hope that in establishing this initial program, we will build long-lasting relationships with these schools,” SIlverman said.

The experience of preparing and giving the presentations will also be helpful to the college students, Silverman said, and should boost retention as well.

According to BGSU’s description, environmental health graduates are specialists in protecting the environment. They are prepared to evaluate and control threats to air, water and soil. An environmental health scientist may focus on the health of a particular occupational work force or the general well-being of a community.

Graduates meet the educational requirements to become Registered Sanitarians and Certified Industrial Hygienists after gaining sufficient experience and passing the appropriate professional examinations. Primary places of employment are in industry, government, insurance risk-management agencies, environmental engineering firms, consulting firms, testing laboratories, health care facilities and educational institutions.

August 18, 2008