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Member Spotlight: Amy Word

March 21, 2019

Amy Word, REHS is a Natural Resource Specialist with the State of Oregon Drinking Water Services. She has been a member of NEHA for the past ten years. In her member spotlight interview, Amy talks about why she loves her career, a typical day on the job, and what she views as the biggest challenge for environmental health professionals.

This picture is of Amy inside a bolted steel reservoir that was in the final stages of completion.

How did you get started in your environmental health career?

My career in environmental health started in 2008 when I began working for the State of Oregon's drinking water program. Our program has primacy with EPA to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act and oversee all public water systems in the state.

Describe a typical day working as a drinking water specialist for the State of Oregon.

A typical day can be just about any scenario! A day could be anything from getting caught up on paperwork to helping a water system work through an emergency. A large portion of my job is field work and conducting inspections of public water systems. I also help water systems by troubleshooting or assisting them with questions they have regarding compliance or sampling requirements of their potable system.

What do you love most about working in your field?

What I love most about working in this field are the operators of public water systems that I interact with and my fellow co-workers. The majority of water systems I work with are very small systems that have many of the same complex regulatory requirements as large water systems. For example, a 30 unit mobile home park must navigate many of the same rules as the City of Portland with 204,000 connections.

What are the most crucial issues facing environmental health professionals, and what can NEHA do to help?

What I see as the most crucial issue is the challenge health professionals face with the ever-increasing (and more complicated) rules that get implemented. Hopefully, NEHA can continue to provide updated training resources for its members.

What advice would you give to students or young professionals who are just starting out in their career?

Becoming an environmental health specialist has such a broad range of very rewarding career paths! This is a great field to get into and explore the different areas that are of interest to you. Whichever road you take, they all have to do with protecting public health. It's something to take a lot of pride in!