At the NEHA 2018 Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition and HUD Healthy Homes Conference in Anaheim, CA, Keith L. Krinn, RS, MA, DAAS, CPHA will receive NEHA’s most prestigious honor: The Walter S. Mangold Award. NEHA connected with Krinn to learn more about his career, the significance of the Mangold Award, and his advice for the next generation of environmental health professionals.
NEHA: At the NEHA AEC in Anaheim, you will receive the 2018 Walter S. Mangold Award. Please share why this award is so meaningful to the EH profession and to you personally.
Krinn: I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the 2018 Walter S. Mangold Award. When one looks at the environmental health professionals who have been recognized in years past, and the award’s namesake, it’s sobering to think the Mangold Selection Committee would feel I’m qualified to stand with those giants of our profession. I want to thank the Board of Directors of the Ohio Environmental Health Association (OEHA) for nominating me, and the Michigan Environmental Health Association (MEHA) for supporting my nomination. The Walter S. Mangold Award is an important NEHA tradition, remembering our history and the impact that the field of environmental health has had on public health. It’s important to remember Walter S. Mangold for his contribution to our profession. He began his professional career in 1924 when he joined the Los Angeles County Health Department as a sanitary inspector and ultimately became Chief District Sanitarian. In that role, he recognized the importance of environmental sanitation practice and the need for better staff training. Accordingly, he developed one of the earliest in-service training programs for sanitarians. His efforts resulted in the elevation of the sanitarian to high professional status through education and training. He was a founding member of the National Association of Sanitarians (now known as NEHA) and established The Sanitarian (now known as The Journal of Environmental Health). He was instrumental in the development of educational and professional standards for sanitarians and led the institution of state registration for our profession. As a result, he came to be considered one of the most outstanding persons in the field of sanitary science. In 1956, in recognition of these life-long achievements, he was presented the first Walter S. Mangold Award.
I have always said the five years I served on the NEHA Board of Directors, and my year as NEHA President, were the capstone of my environmental health career. Well, receiving the Mangold Award tops that! It is truly the new capstone of my career, and I am very grateful.
NEHA: Your college internship had a major impact on your environmental health career. Can you share a little bit about this experience and why providing internship opportunities to students has been important to you?
Krinn: When I was an environmental health major at Indiana State University, our professor, Dr. Herman Koren, required his students to complete two internships- one after the junior year and a final one after the senior year. I had always thought his requirement was great because the student was able to experience the professional environment in two separate areas of the country, and perhaps both the public and private sectors. I was fortunate in being assigned to the Oakland County Health Division in Pontiac, Michigan for my first internship- a large and progressive department in suburban Detroit. I received a wide range of applied experience and was able to taste, for the first time, what environmental health as an applied science was all about. As it turned out, I spent 28 years of my career with Oakland County!
My senior internship was with the Chester County Health Department in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I was excited to take on the challenge of applying what I had gained both in my senior year classes and the previous internship. Also, as a midwesterner, this was my first time experiencing the east coast. I became acquainted with another giant in the field of environmental health – V. Harry Adrounie – who was the Environmental Health Director in Chester County at the time. Harry was a former Mangold Award winner, and former NEHA President, and he took a special interest in my development. He made sure I was exposed to the EH programs in Chester County and mentored me on a project around swimming pool compliance. On the last day of my internship, V. Harry Adrounie hosted a staff barbeque at his house for me. This left a lasting impression– that someone of that stature could take an interest in me.
Years later, as a member of the management team at Oakland County, we developed our internship program into something very robust. We assigned special projects for the student sanitarians to complete, and required then to present to the entire staff on their projects. For the intern, this was the first time giving a formal presentation to an audience outside of their peers. After moving on to Ohio and Columbus Public Health in 2003, the internship concept came along with me. Between both agencies we have provided summer internships to over 70 environmental health students. Often, the interns are hired back as sanitarians and begin their careers from those internships. That’s why I firmly believe it is so important for public sector environmental health units AND private sector environmental health units offer PAID internships for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real world situations. Additionally, the experience gives budding EH professionals exposure to organizational behavior and processes which are vital to learn. Finally, an internship program is mutually beneficial – not only for the student but also to the hiring agency or company – as a student workforce can accomplish projects and tasks that regular staff may not be able to take on due to work loads.
NEHA: You began working in the field of EH 43 years ago, the day after you graduated from college. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in their environmental health career?
Krinn: Get involved! Understand that you are embarking on a career and not just a job. Join the state NEHA affiliate, and volunteer for committee work. Get to know the leaders, not only within your own organization, but also the leaders within your NEHA affiliate. Join NEHA. Read the Journal of Environmental Health, and become familiar with the environmental health issues of the day on a national level. Seek continuous improvement of your environmental health skills and ask your supervisor for exposure to program elements you are not currently working in. Seek the RS or REHS credential either at the state level, NEHA, or better yet, both. After you have gained the credential and experience, apply for promotional opportunities within your organization when they become available. You may not get offered the position the first time around, but going through the interview process helps immensely to prepare you for the next opportunity. Be ambitious in your own career progression - build and update your resume routinely. Seek a master’s degree. Many employers help with tuition reimbursement and that advanced degree can, and will, open doors in your career advancement. Seek mentorship from your supervisor and other more-seasoned co-workers. Always remember the main person responsible for your career satisfaction and development is you!
NEHA: Throughout your career you have volunteered your time to numerous professional associations, including serving on the NEHA Board of Directors. Why do you feel that it’s valuable to give back to your profession through volunteer service, and what have you gained from being an association leader?
Krinn: I was fortunate in that the environmental health leadership of the Oakland County Health Division encouraged participation and membership in professional organizations, especially the Michigan Environmental Health Association and NEHA. I became active in MEHA, eventually becoming AEC Chair and the year after, President-Elect. Working together with other professionals across the state gave me a lot of insight, not only in organizational behavior, but I also made great friends through MEHA that I still keep in contact with today I drew on that experience to help me navigate through the NEHA Board of Directors chairs some ten years later. After moving to Columbus Public Health (CPH) in 2003, I joined the Ohio Environmental Health Association and found the same degree of professionalism in its membership. At CPH we encourage OEHA membership for our staff and send as many staff members to the OEHA AEC as our budget allows. The big take away for me is professional organizations help to instill a sense that what we do every day at work is not just a job, but truly a profession.
NEHA: In addition to receiving the 2018 Mangold Award, you are leading two sessions at the AEC: Engaging at Risk Communities on Lead Hazards and Screening and Implementing a New Tobacco 21 Program from Scratch. Tell us about these two projects and what we can expect to learn about during your sessions.
Krinn: It’s a bit misleading to say I’m “leading” the two sessions! I’m introducing the program overview and more importantly introducing my two staff members who are doing the heavy lifting on the two presentations. Chris Bragg, RS, Public Health Sanitarian II is the program coordinator of our Healthy Homes unit. He will be describing our outreach attempts to engage parents of children living in the areas of Columbus which have the highest incident of referrals for lead-burdened children. He will describe what we learned from our outreach attempts and the importance of getting pre-school children tested for lead. Chris will also discuss the enforcement process in which CPH is the first local health department in Ohio to work with the city attorney’s office to file against some 60 properties, mostly against landlords, implicated with lead hazards in homes in which children were lead-poisoned.
Melissa McArthur, RS, is the Program Manager for our new Tobacco/21 program element. In December of 2016 the Columbus City Council passed enabling legislation, and the Columbus Board of Health followed suit the following month to establish funding and passed a Tobacco/21 Columbus City Health Code. The premise is to make it illegal to sell tobacco products and related paraphernalia to anyone under the age of 21 to help keep teens from starting to smoke. The Environmental Health Division was charged with developing the processes and staffing to enforce the legislation. It was decided early on that such legislation was not going to be effective unless it had a strong enforcement component and that outreach to the tobacco retail community was needed to help retailers understand the new law and comply with its requirements. This program had to be developed from scratch. Melissa will describe her successful endeavor to develop this extremely successful public health initiative.