Alaska Contingent at 2016 NEHA Conference

The 2016 NEHA Annual Educational Conference (AEC) and HUD Healthy Homes Conference was held June 13-16 in San Antonio, Texas. The event was hosted at several hotels along San Antonio’s famous River Walk. This was a welcome treat for visiting attendees. Tracks at this year’s AEC included: air quality; climate change; children’s environmental health; emerging environmental health (EH) issues; EH Health Impact Assessment; EH tracking & informatics; emergency preparedness & response; food safety & defense; general EH; leadership/management; onsite wastewater; pathogens & outbreaks; recreational waters; schools/institutions; sustainability; technology & EH; uniformed services EH; vector control & zoonotic diseases; water quality; and healthy homes & communities. There was truly something for everyone.

AEHA had quite the contingent in attendance. Dr. Steve Konkel, Korie Hickel (ANTHC), AJ Salkoski (ANTHC), Jenni Dobson (YKHC) and I (Katie Bante, TCC) all presented during the week. Racheal Lee (TCC) also attended the conference. This was my first NEHA conference, and I really looked forward to it. It was great meeting other EH professionals and also connecting with old friends and colleagues from the lower 48.

Jenni & Katie at NEHA
LCDR Jennifer Dobson & LT Katie Bante talk about their favorite subject during the Uniformed Services track

Some thoughts from others…

Korie Hickel, ANTHC:

“This was my first NEHA experience, and I not only survived the Texas heat but I really enjoyed the conference. There was a good mix of healthy homes (HUD-focused) presentations and core environmental health topics. Despite our unique Alaskan context, there is much to learn from others as they address common challenges such as limited budgets, changing environments, and program challenges. I was able to share some Alaska perspective on the impacts of climate change our communities are facing in my presentation, “Kivalina, Alaska: A water and sanitation pilot for those facing climate change”. The talk provided a great juxtaposition for the audience in that it followed a presentation on a climate change initiative by the LA County Health Department. Though the issues and resources varied greatly, it was a good example of our interconnected world and the problems that are emerging for all of us in this ever-changing world.”

AJ Salkoski, ANTHC:

“While at NEHA, I presented Improving the Respiratory Health of High Risk Alaska Native Children Through Home-Based Interventions. We had a variety of folks attend from NIEHS, IHS programs from the Lower 48, Canadian agencies working with First Nations people, in addition to other environmental health professionals. Our program was well received and garnered many questions and comments about how we began and how others could replicate work with their population.”

For those that weren’t able to make it, NEHA has 24 hours of continuing education via recorded sessions available for purchase through their website: Next year’s NEHA AEC will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 10-13. Save the date!

Article contributed by Katie Bante, AEHA Publications Committee Chair

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