UW News

May 20, 2010

Advocates for cleanup of Hanford Reservation win Annual Service Award For Community Partners

Gerry Pollet, executive director of Heart of America Northwest, a public interest organization that works for the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, has accepted the UW School of Pulic Health’s fourth annual Service Award for Community Partners on behalf of his organization. For several years, Pollet and his staff have worked with students in the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) Program on a problem-based learning case about the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Wash.

School of Public Health Dean Pat Wahl presented the award May 6 at the school’s annual Masters of Public Health (MPH) Practicum Reception. In receiving the award, Pollet was joined by two staff members: Lisa Van Dyk, Heart of America Northest volunteer, community service, and publications coordinator, who has worked extensively with  MPH students; and Mark Saporito, database manager for the organization.

The 2010 Community Service Award recognizes the educational value of the opportunities offered to students by this year’s honoree and the organization he represents. Students learn about nuclear physics, nuclear waste and its management, state and national environmental regulatory agencies, environmental justice issues, occupational health, risk assessment, policy analysis and decision making, as well a s several geological, management, and political issues concerning the Hanford site. Gerry Pollet and staff at Heart of America Northwest organize and provide several learning opportunities, including a field trip to Hanford. The visit includes an informal tour along with a panel discussion with experts from a variety of organizations.

Tegan Callahan, a second-year Community-Oriented Public Health Practice student, spoke at the ceremony and presented a certificate to Pollet. In congratulating  Pollet, Wahl thanked him for his many years of service on behalf of the public’s health as well as to the MPH students at the UW.

Heart of America Northwest is a 16,000-member citizens group. It conducts research while leading legal and lobbying efforts in the region and nationally for cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The organization’s mission also includes protecting the Northwest and Columbia River from radioactive waste and working for a safe and clean energy future to reduce global warming without generating nuclear waste.

The school’s Service Award for Community Partners originated when students wanted to recognize the support provided by two mentors in Eastern Washington and the work they did for the University and in their communities. The Student Public Health Association and the school’s leadership concurred. They established a permanent award to honor community partners for exemplary support of the school’s mission and goals. The award honors collaborators outside the school who have shown dedication to collaborating with students, faculty, staff, or administrators to serve the school and increase its impact in the community.