At the School's annual MPH Practicum Reception on May 6, 2010, Dean Pat Wahl presented the fourth annual Service Award for Community Partners to Gerry Pollet, executive director of Heart of America Northwest, a public interest organization that works for the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In accepting the award, Pollet was joined by two staff members: Lisa Van Dyk, the organization's volunteer, community service, and publications coordinator, who has worked extensively with our MPH students, and Mark Saporito, database manager for Heart of America Northwest.
The 2010 Community Service Award recognizes the educational value of the opportunities offered our students by this year's honoree and the organization he represents. For several years, Pollet and his staff have worked with our students in the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) Program on a problem-based learning case concerning cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Washington. Students learn about nuclear physics; nuclear waste and ways to manage it; state and national environmental regulatory agencies; environmental justice issues; occupational health; risk assessment; policy analysis and decision making; and several geological, management, and political issues concerning the Hanford site. Gerry Pollet and staff at Heart of America Northwest organize and provide several learning opportunities, including a field trip to Hanford, which involves an informal tour as well as a panel discussion with experts from a variety of organizations.
Tegan Callahan, a second-year COPHP student, spoke at the ceremony and presented a certificate to Pollet. In congratulating Mr. Pollet, Dean Wahl thanked him for his many years of service on behalf of the public's health as well as to our MPH students at the University of Washington.
Heart of America Northwest is a 16,000-member citizens group that conducts research while leading legal and lobbying efforts in the region and nationally for cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The organization's mission also includes protecting the Northwest and Columbia River from radioactive waste and working for a safe and clean energy future to reduce global warming without nuclear waste.
The School's Service Award for Community Partners came about when students wished to recognize the wonderful support provided by two mentors in Eastern Washington and the work they did for the University and in their communities. The Student Public Health Association and the School's leadership concurred and established a permanent award to honor community partners for exemplary support of the School's mission and goals. The award's purpose is to recognize collaborators outside the School who have shown dedication to working cooperatively with students, faculty, staff, or administrators to provide service to the School and increase its impact in the community.