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The Orrville Connection: Alums Shine with Environmental Safety and Health Degrees from the University of Findlay

Randy VanDyne

The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) profession expanded rapidly in the late 1980’s due to the adverse effects that chemical waste disposal was having on the population and environment. These included not only buried drum sites, abandoned waste collections areas, contaminated groundwater, etc., but also the need to develop and implement programs throughout all types of industry that dealt with how to properly dispose of waste, how to prevent pollution, and how to keep workers and the general public safe throughout the process.

There were virtually no academic programs in existence at the time to help educate and train future employees on how to understand these environmental, health and safety issues, and how to consistently address the challenges they presented.

This article highlights seven outstanding alumni, who have made a significant contribution to the Findlay EHS degree. They are a unique group; in that, they are all from the same high school, Orrville High School (OHS) in Orrville, Ohio.

My name is Randy Van Dyne and I am also a graduate of OHS, class of 1971, and was a full-time faculty member in the College of Business at Findlay from 1976 – 1978. After leaving Findlay, I worked for one of the nation’s leading Environmental Remediation and Emergency Response companies called OHM Corporation.  In 1985, I helped lead a small group of people from Findlay and OHM who addressed this vast shortage of academic degree programs available to prepare students to work in the EHS field.  A year later, in 1986, we initiated the degree program at Findlay, and I taught the very first class. This is where the Orrville connection to the Findlay Program began.

In 1989, I returned to Findlay on a full-time basis and started the All Hazards Training Center (AHTC).  I worked as the Executive Director of the AHTC until retiring from full-time work in August of 2018.

The academic program was designed to address the growing need for professionals in the fields of environmental protection, worker safety, and worker/public health. It rapidly grew from a bachelor’s degree to include a master’s degree in 1994. To date, over 2,400 students have graduated from the programs and primarily work in environmental, safety and health compliance positions across the United States, as well as for State and Federal Regulatory Agencies, and related contractors, vendors, and suppliers.

The hands-on component at AHTC was added to meet the ongoing needs of workers and degreed professionals who needed initial and refresher training, specialized/advanced training, or regulatory required training. Over 275,000 participants have received training, and in 2019 alone, over 10,000 participants were trained in all 50 states.

As the academic program grew and high school graduates from across Ohio became aware of it, high school science teachers realized the vast potential the program provided to some of their graduates. No one took more of an active interest than Jim Duxbury (known to all as Dux), an Earth Science teacher from Orrville High School.

After receiving information on a post-secondary teaching option offered by the University of Findlay, Dux was initially interested.  The option provided teaching a Findlay class in EHS at Orrville High School and students passing the class received credit at Findlay.  Dux was trained to be the teacher/instructor.

This began an active partnership between Dux and the Findlay EHS program. He began working closely with various Findlay representatives, including Dr. Tim Murphy, director of the Academic Degree Program. As a part of this partnership, Dux would take groups of OHS students on field trips to Findlay to meet with EHS professors and trainers, tour the two EHS Training centers, and participate in some actual hands-on exercises, called Fear Factor.  In Fear Factor competitions, participants would wear industry-type, protective clothing, breathing air bottles, gloves, booties, etc., and participate in races and drills.

In total, seven OHS students have graduated from Findlay’s EHS Program.  A brief profile of each student is below. The connection between Findlay’s EHS program and Orville has also resulted in Jim Duxbury’s own son Parker (OHS class of 2020) planning to attend Findlay in the fall of 2020.

As Dux says, “We have some incredible alumni out there doing some amazing things, keeping people safe and making a difference every day.”  All the OHS alums that completed their EHS degree at Findlay have had considerable success in their fields.  EHS related fields have always been in high demand and job opportunities are endless. OHS alums have certainly done their part to fill these important positions.

Ordered by the date of their graduation from Findlay, the following are brief profiles of the seven Findlay/OHS Alums.

 

Tim Richards, 2005 Findlay Graduate

Tim is currently working for PPG Industries out of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, but works out of his home in Fremont, Ohio.  As the Global Manager of Human and Organizational Performance, Tim is responsible for leading the global implementation of PPG’s Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) initiative, which is a science-based approach to understanding how and why people make errors and what can be done to eliminate them.

Upon graduation, Tim held positions with several companies, where his responsibilities included major air compliance, reporting and permitting requirements as well as RCRA, CERCLA, SARA, SWPPP-SPCC regulations. His responsibilities also included the development of a comprehensive risk-based EHS system for company startup. He provided assistance for production line designs and installations for the company to achieve cost-effective manufacturing.  For four years, he also operated his own consulting business, where he developed and implemented EHS management systems for his clients.  In January of 2013, Tim started his work with PPG Industries.

What he likes most about the EHS profession is that he enjoys the ability to assist people in their day to day activities by giving them tools to recognize error likely in situations and prevent those situations from happening.

 

Addie (Botkin) Burden, 2005 Findlay Graduate

Addie is currently working for US Ecology in Bellville, Michigan, as an Approval Coordinator. She assists customers all over the country with complex regulatory questions, including health and safety for special waste stream handling, conducting audits, and training on Hazardous Waste Analysis plans and permits.

While at Findlay, she worked for the Training Center as a work-study student, primarily acting as a technician for various OSHA Safety Training courses. She was also an intern for the Ohio EPA Northwest District, Groundwater Office, where she worked on using GIS to site wells for pollution studies, and participated in training sessions to educate children in the Northwest Ohio area about drinking water safety.

Addie credits the training she received at Findlay’s All Hazards Training Center by providing her the ability to learn how to apply what she learned about environmental law and regulations in the classroom to industrial, real-world applications.

 

Jared Kirk, 2006 Findlay Graduate

Jared currently works for the Department of Defense at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  As an Industrial Hygienist for the Navy Medical Readiness and Training Unit Portsmouth, Jared conducts noise, air, and material samples that can impact a person’s immediate or long-term health and provides that person with a recommendation on how to mitigate the hazard they are exposed to. The recommendation can range from engineering controls to better personal protective equipment selection, as it all depends on the hazard.

Upon graduation, Jared worked for several Honda suppliers, and eventually Polaris Industries where he oversaw five sites in Ohio, South Dakota, and California until he and Stephanie decided to relocate to New Hampshire where he obtained a position with Teledyne DGO in Portsmouth as an HSE Engineer.

Jared thoroughly enjoys the EHS profession, as it has given him many opportunities to learn different manufacturing practices. He enjoys working with people and making their work environments safer and healthier places to work.  He cautions, however, that while working in the safety profession for large scale manufacturing, you need to be prepared to see things like severe lacerations, amputations, and possibly even fatalities.

 

Heather (Hochstetler) Chan, 2007 Findlay Graduate

Heather currently works for Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) in Findlay, Ohio as the Corporate Management Systems Coordinator. She is responsible for leading the development and implementation of an integrated EHS and quality management system, which provides a structure for risk management and continual improvement; making processes more efficient, effective, and sustainable. She also serves on the Corporate Emergency Response Team.

Heather has spent most of her career with MPC, in Findlay, Ohio.  She started as a corporate industrial hygienist then held several positions within the Marathon Pipeline LLC organization, including Environmental, Safety and Regulatory Compliance Coordinator, Process Safety Coordinator, and Management Systems Coordinator. She is currently at Marathon Petroleum Corporation as a Management Systems Coordinator.

A highlight of her career is being on the MPC Emergency Response Team that will work with other federal, state and local responders during an incident/disaster to ensure that MPC continues to provide energy for our nation, minimizes the impact on the public and the environment, and keeps employees and responders safe.

Regarding major accomplishments, Heather says, “It has been really neat to lead the development of an integrated management system for our entire company since we acquired another large company a little over a year ago.” She also helped develop and visualize the Marathon Exposure Assessment Methodology for MPC’s industrial hygiene program.

 

Taylor Fetty, 2008 Findlay Graduate

Taylor is currently employed with Adtalem Global Education, located in Portland, Oregon, and is the director of Environmental Health and Safety. Taylor is responsible for all EHS concerns, training, and regulatory issues for the international company; and he oversees all security matters in seven states, including threat assessment management and physical security. Adtalem, formerly the DeVry Education Group, is a U.S. corporation that focuses on providing workforce solutions both in the U.S. and internationally.

Upon graduation, Taylor worked for SWS Environmental and Correct Care Solutions, before settling into his current job as the director of Environmental Health and Safety for Adtalem Global Education.

He thoroughly enjoys the EHS Profession, including creative problem solving, training, creating policies and programs that positively impact the health and safety of employees and the environment. He states that the work environment has changed drastically since leaving Findlay. Fresh out of college, he worked hazmat emergency response, responding to midnight calls for train derailments 500 miles away, to working inside of prisons and jails protecting the safety of nurses and doctors.  Now, Taylor works from the comfort of his own home. 

Robert Sharetts, 2012 Findlay Graduate

Currently working at Stantec Consulting as a Pharmaceutical Consultant, Rob’s office is in Hauppauge New York, but he travels 100% of the time.  He has spent most of his time in New York and Colorado and parts of Northeast Ohio.  Rob is a project site lead, but also commissions and validates drug manufacturing equipment, utilities, systems, and sterilization equipment. He also performs the administrative tasks associated with a project manager (writing proposals, compiling schedules, budgets, etc.).

Rob had an internship with Marathon Petroleum (Canton Ohio Refinery) while at Findlay.  It was an Industrial Hygiene internship for the summer of 2011.  The focus was on personnel monitoring for H2S, benzene, asbestos, arsenic, sulfuric acid, and noise, managing the sampling program for the summer. He also managed the equipment lease with Industrial Scientific and repaired some IH lab equipment.

One of Rob’s favorite things about the ESOH Major was that he always loved regulations and law.  The environmental compliance piece was his number one interest.  Industrial Hygiene was a close second.

 

Kevin Weber, 2017 Findlay Graduate

The most recent Findlay graduate, Kevin is currently working for Eaton Corp in Reno, Nevada as an EHS Technician.  His job responsibilities include overall compliance with respect to local, state, and federal regulation, as well as maintaining examples of company requirements and EHS best practices.

Upon graduation, Kevin worked as a safety technician for Tesla, Inc. in Sparks, Nevada, where he was involved in coordinating compliance actions for all corporate directives and applicable regulations.

What Kevin likes most about the EHS profession is the opportunity to affect change. Whether that means finding ways to complete a job safer or provide insight into how a process could be improved, it is always rewarding to see a plan be successfully implemented. Also, a unique opportunity for EHS professionals is to give individuals the tools, knowledge, and experience to raise the standard of how a task or process is performed. He also likes working as a team to solve problems and provide a better workplace for all the employees he interacts with.

Kevin says the “greatest experience of my career was taking a huge risk and moving all the way to Reno, Nevada for my first job out of school. This was terrifying and exciting at the same time. It has shaped me as a person and gives me the opportunity to enjoy a stunning part of the country (Lake Tahoe/part of the Sierra Mountain Range).”

In closing, with Dux’s son, Parker, set to attend Findlay this Fall, we look forward to another potential influx of OHS alums to add to the Orrville connection!

Speaking of Dux, I want to give a special shout out to him. Without Dux, the Orrville connection would not have been possible. I am sure the OHS alums highlighted in this article would wholeheartedly agree!

In summary, I am honored to have played a part in starting what has turned out to be an amazingly successful academic degree program.  And, while I am overwhelmed by the success that Orrville High School graduates have had in their EHS careers, I am not a bit surprised.

All seven of these alums were absolutely dedicated to the mission of graduating with this unique degree and providing their services to the EHS profession anywhere they might be needed. This is certainly evident by the fact that even though they are all from the same small Midwest town in Ohio, they now live and work virtually coast-to-coast – from Providence, NH, to Bellville, MI, to Reno, NV, to Portland Oregon! Jobs in the EHS profession are available everywhere, and the need for talented professionals (like the seven described herein) is significant, and growing rapidly.

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