Prevention Department - Pathways Behavioral Services
I currently work on three different grants, coordinating two of them. The three grants that I work on are all grants from the Iowa Department of Public Health: the Comprehensive Substance Abuse Prevention Grant, the Buchanan County Community Partnership Grant (Tobacco Master Settlement Grant), and the Black Hawk County Reducing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Grant.
The Comprehensive Grant covers a total of six counties: Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw and Grundy. With this grant we can provide a variety of substance abuse prevention programs. I coordinate both of the tobacco grants. The Community Partnership Grant (CPG) focuses on preventing the initiation of tobacco use by teens, promoting cessation for all youth and adults, eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke and establishing/maintaining a community coalition. The Secondhand Smoke Grant is different from the CPG in the way that we have a major project that we are focused on. We are currently working on a Smoke-Free Housing Project. Through this project we are surveying tenants of rental housing on their exposure to secondhand smoke.
How Has UNI helped you prepare?
I am very fortunate that my background as a Health Promotion major prepared me for the work I do. I work with area legislators during the legislative session education them about our priorities related to tobacco. For example we talked to legislators about our need for an increase in the tobacco tax (which passed in March 2007); this year we are working on restoring local control to communities. The three main courses: Planning, Implementing, and Evaluation are so vital to the work everyday. I am often responsible for putting together programming and presentations that I take out into the communities of our six counties.
UNI Student Finds Success Through Environmental Health Career
Today, University of Northern Iowa students are finding more opportunities in the fields of physical education, health promotion and environmental health. Former and current students are exploring exciting options with professors, through internships and hands-on activities in the classroom.
Jana Callanan, a recent graduate of UNI with a degree in Environmental Science, is applying the valuable knowledge she gained in the classroom. She now uses that expertise every day as an Envrironment Technician. Callanan works for Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI), a non-profit organization based in Moscow, Idaho.
Jana Callanan, a graduate of UNI, works with Moscow, Idaho elementary students at her job at Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute.
The PCEI strives to increase citizen involvement in decisions that affect the region's environment. Its primary goals are to promote the ecological health and social welfare of teh Palouse-Clearwater region and participate in the conservation, preservation and restoration of environmentally sensitive lands, natural areas and unique ecosystems. Finally, through PCEI's work, the organization seeks to inform and educate the public on issues concerning a sustainable future by promoting a well-informed, active and concerned citizenry.
The PCEI is involved in several projects including the Watersheds Project, which Callanan actively works with. Environmental education and school-based programs, community food systems, transportation option, alternative energy and AmeriCorps placements are several other projects PCEI is working toward improving and providing to Idaho residents.
Besides working on the Watersheds restoration project, Callanan has also been assisting the PCEI with trail restoration. The PCEI watershed project is focused on preserving, protecting and restoring ecosystems in the Palouse-Clearwater region and Callanan is involved with water quality protection, biological monitoring and wetland restoration.
"A typical day includes going on site and prepping the area for plantings, maintaining a site to ensure plant survival and taking accurate and detailed data on the site." Callanan said. "Taking data is one of the most important aspects of my job because the information we gather on site will be used to ensure continued funding for a particular project."
Callanan and PCEI host a weekly event where community volunteers vist worksites to assist with planting, maintenance and clean up work.
"This is a vital part of my job, because without the help of volunteers, it would not be possible to complete the work necessary." she said. "It's also a unique way to educate people in the community and explain why the restoration project is so important."
Callanan and PCEI staff members discuss the essential nature of native plants within a watershed and how plants function to provide a stable and healthy ecosystem. These plants also work to create shade, filtration and erosion control within the environment.
"All in all, the work is do is different and challenging every day," she said. "it is neat to be able to go out in the community and really make a difference."
Callanan credits her UNI education with providing her the opportunity to work with PCEI. Callanan says UNI taught her how to work successfully with volunteers and adopt a sense of professionalism when explaining projects and their importance.
"I am able to go out and talk to people about the importance of restoration sites and work hard to make a difference in this community," she said. "I have been able to work with elementary, high school and college students as well as many members throughout the community. It has been usefull to know how to communicate with them in a productive way in order to make them a part of our project."
Callanan's classes at UNI have provided her useful information regarding accurate testing of water and air quality. She is also able to apply her classroom knowledge in identifying watersheds that are at risk for exceeding their daily maximum load of contamination and recognizing their need for restoration.
"My education at UNI has given me the confidence I need to seek out this job and to do well in it," she said. "It has helped me to open my eyes to the importance of such projects and given me the drive and desire to help make a difference in the world."
Student Health Coordinator - Community HealthCare, Inc., Davenport, IA
My main responsibility is overseeing the Child Health portion of the Maternal & Child Health Federal Block Grant (MCH). I manage a department of five individuals which help run the grant activities. I serve as the main liaison between the local and state health departments. I work in the community frequently, serving on many local committees and councils to better the health of families and children in Scott County.
I am also the Early ACCESS Service Coordinator for Scott County. This is incorporated into the MCH grant. I am trained to developmentally assess all children in Scott County who have an elevated lead level. I make home visits, coordinate care for appropriate services and follow these lead posisoned children until they are 3 years of age at which point I transition them to the local AEA. I also oversee our immunization grant and usage of VFC's (Vaccines for Children), making sure all children are properly immunized.
I have also recently picked up the role as the coordinator for a new Tobacco Cessation Grant we received from IANEPCA (Iowa/Nebraska Primary Care Association). I oversee our health educator whos sees all tobacco cessation patients and make sure the program is running smoothly as well as completing all the necessary reporting to the state for the program. I thoroughly enjoy working with this population, I love children and am driven to help those in need.
How has UNI helped you prepare?
I am so thankful for the experiences I had at UNI. You wouldn't believe how much I reference back to courses from my undergrad. The program at UNI is strong and I never realized how strong until I got out. Many of my graduate courses are building directly off what I was taught at UNI. I am actually in an EPI class right now! Lucky for me, it has been serving as a refresher due to your undergrad EPI course (which was my all time favorite class at UNI, by the way). So a little late, I know....but thank you and thank everyone who makes that program what it is. I never wanted to be one of those people who goes to work because they have to...and after proper schooling and a lot of passion, I know I will never be one of those people.