KELLOGG — More than 150 people popped into the Kellogg Community Center on Thursday to check out booths from 22 different government agencies and businesses that have a hand in local environmental work.
From agencies such as the Idaho Department of Lands and the Environmental Protection Agency, to companies like Hecla Mining Company and Maul Foster Alongi — a wide range of learning opportunities were available for those looking to know more about careers dealing with the natural world around us.
“We had the mining industry here talking about how they treat their water before they discharge it into the river,” said Val Wade, event organizer and Panhandle Health District environmental health specialist. “We had the forest industry here talking about all the things they do to conserve the forests in the area — water quality, air quality, everything.”
With the variety of different entities present, attendees had a chance to see not only how environmental issues from the past are dealt with today — but also how the future of environmental science will develop and grow.
The big differences at this year’s event compared to last year included a larger number of booths and the presence of a the University of Idaho/PHD collaborative project designed to educate younger students.
Using the popular video game Minecraft as a platform to get their message out, attendees were invited to sit down and play a scripted version of the game that taught the user about nutrition and lead exposure. After a bit more refinement, this game is planned to be introduced to local Silver Valley schools as an education tool (a more in-depth story on this topic by the News-Press will be released in the future).
Students from the Kellogg and Wallace school districts showed up to see the booths and were even joined by a busload of kids from Christian Center School in Hayden. The fair also gave the professionals involved the opportunity to network and possibly see another side of their career field.
Hosted jointly by PHD, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the University of Idaho — Wade explained that the main purpose of this event is to educate people that the environment and public health are very closely linked.
“We were looking for a way to educate high school and college-age students,” she said. “So we thought this would be a good opportunity to cover all the bases — job opportunities, education about the work that’s being done in the area, as well as just the different types of jobs.”
Overall, Wade was pleased with the event and was already looking forward to next year’s fair.
“It was an excellent showing of both booth hosts and the general public/students.”