NEHA October 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

50 Volume 85 • Number 3 Safeguarding a Road Less Traveled The National Environmental Health Association’s (NEHA) 85th Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition highlighted our commitment to quality, timely, and innovative education with a new hybrid format. With the large variance in travel restrictions in place around the country and globe—coupled with the demand for in-person opportunities to network and engage—the 2022 AEC o†ered both in-person and virtual options. The 2022 AEC took place June 28–July 1 in beautiful Spokane, Washington, and virtually. A total of 1,400 environmental health professionals participated in AEC, with 1,000 people gathering in Spokane and 400 people engaging virtually. Attendees shared experiences, research, expertise, and best practices to reconnect and safeguard our communities in a postpandemic world. A highly engaging keynote address was delivered by Dr. Umair Shah, MPH, MD, secretary of health for the Washington State Board of Health. Speaking to in-person and virtual attendees, he discussed the visibility crisis of environmental health that has been thrust to the forefront of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Shah also emphasized the greatest issues facing environmental health professionals including climate change, emergency preparedness, and vectors. He closed out the session by stressing the importance of focusing on transformational health compared to transactional health as we look to the future. On the second day, the Grand Session Kicko† featured a moderated panel of environmental health leaders to discuss the challenges and di†icult situations environmental health workers faced during the implementation of COVID-19 safety measures. NEHA President Roy Kroeger moderated the highly engaging conversation that highlighted the use of education versus enforcement, as well as the importance of mental health. Panelists included Eric Bradley, deputy health director of Linn County Public Health; Tom Gonzales, public health director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment; and Niki Lemin, assistant health commissioner and director of environmental health for Franklin County Public Health. The AEC featured multiple days of educational content on a variety of topics including food safety, water quality, climate and health, emergency preparedness, and much more. William (Bill) Marler, JD, attorney and food safety expert from Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, closed out the AEC by speaking virtually to attendees about a lawyer’s view of modern foodborne outbreaks. Nearly 250 educational sessions, preconference workshops, and meetings were held at the 2022 AEC. Of these events, 90 were available to the virtual audience. Approximately 300 speakers shared their expertise to full rooms and virtual attendees throughout the conference. The Exhibit Hall was filled with exhibitors from various industries to showcase their innovative products and services designed to improve the job functions and performance of environmental health professionals. With the lack of in-person networking opportunities over the last couple of years, the Reconnecting on the River Networking Event proved to be an important aspect of the 2022 AEC. The event brought together 700 attendees who were able to relax and reconnect with their peers along the banks of the beautiful Spokane River. NEHA thanks our attendees, members, board, technical advisors, presenters, exhibitors, sponsors, and sta† who participated and contributed to the success of the 2022 AEC. We know the past couple of years have been especially challenging and we thank everyone who took the time to attend and participate in the 2022 AEC. We hope to see you next year in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the 2023 AEC. Check out the promotion for the 2023 AEC on page 47. Seth Arends Kristie Denbrock Soni Fink Heather Folker Angelica Ledezma Kristen Ruby-Cisneros Jordan Strahle National Environmental Health Association NEHA 2022 AEC photos courtesy of Shanoah Eck, Shanoah Bri Photography, NEHA 2022 AEC Wrap-Up