NEHA December 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

6 Volume 85 • Number 5 YOUR ASSOCIATION D. Gary Brown, DrPH, CIH, RS, DAAS The Happiest Profession on Earth  PRES I DENT ’ S MESSAGE As I look back on the past year, words cannot express how grateful I am to be a part of this wild and wonderful environmental health field. Just like Henry David Thoreau said, “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” Over the past several years, environmental health professionals have been the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. You have done as Abraham Lincoln said, “I do the very best I know how—the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” In this holiday season, we all have much to celebrate regarding environmental health along with the success of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). I want to extend my personal thanks to environmental health professionals, NEHA partners, students, and NEHA staŒ, regional vice-presidents, and board members. As I stated in a previous column, we all are thankful for the ability to meet in person once again. I have been fortunate enough to attend several conferences that have allowed me to meet my fellow environmental health professionals and to learn new information. No matter what stage of our careers we are at, all environmental health professionals have unique knowledge and experiences. Environmental health professionals love to learn from each other because we have a shared passion. I am thankful to be a part of a dynamic and constantly evolving field. When I started in the field 30 years ago, indoor air quality, emergency response, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), nanomaterials, cyanobacteria (i.e., blue-green algae) blooms, and climate change were barely a blip on the radar, if on our radar at all. Learning about these areas along with other emerging challenges keeps me excited, engaged, and entertained. Over the past several months I had the pleasure to attend the Yankee Conference in New England, the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors National Conference, and the Jamaica Association of Public Health Inspectors Annual Educational Conference. Over the years I have learned that no matter where we hail from—even from a galaxy far, far away—we all speak the same environmental health language. Foundational principles of environmental health apply anywhere, irrespective of nuances in regulations. Unlike many other professions, another magnificent aspect of our profession is the willingness and happiness to share information regarding similar challenges. In many professions, such as engineering, the free sharing of ideas is hindered by the fear of losing a competitive advantage. Environmental health professionals want to ensure people have a safe and healthy place in which to live, work, and play. I am extremely grateful to have the privilege to teach this wild and wonderful environmental health field to future professionals. As Bob Phillips stated, “There are three stages of man: he believes in Santa Claus; he does not believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus.” Even though I am the Santa Claus (I still believe) of the Environmental Health Science Department at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), my colleagues and the students help to keep me young at heart by educating me on new things. Today, students and early career professionals want a fulfilling career to help people and to make the world a better place. For younger individuals, environmental health checks oŒ all of those career boxes along with many others. As our EKU students say, the Environmental Health Science Department is the “happiest department on campus,” not quite up to Disneyland’s “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Another slogan for environmental health could be the “happiest profession on Earth.” Please volunteer to share the joy because all of the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC) environmental health programs would love to have more environmental health professionals involved with and engaged in these programs. Let us all work to empower students for a bright future in a career with endless possibilities. EHAC is the gold standard regarding environmental health science accreditation. EHAC requires a firm educational foundation in the natural sciences of biology, microbiology, chemistry, and physics. This Environmental health professionals love to learn from each other because we have a shared passion.