Get Involved and Promote the Profession
AIHA has a multitude of volunteer opportunities for members, but there is only one that offers you or your local section the opportunity to win a gift card, show off your creativity, earn CM credit, promote the IH/OEHS profession, and have lots of fun. The Virtual #IAMIH Challenge is an easy way for you, our IH leaders, to inspire others, hone your leadership and presentation skills, and be part of a larger, ongoing movement to raise awareness of industrial hygiene among our newest generation.
While intended to be fun and creative, some serious benefits come from participating. By joining in, you'll:
- promote the profession
- give back to the profession
- build ties between AIHA national and local sections
- get to know new people
- mentor new members
AIHA is asking members of AIHA national or local sections to commit to doing a minimum of one presentation on either safety and health for young workers or IH careers for high school students. (You can download these presentations from Catalyst.) You will need to organize your presentation to be conducted virtually, take a screenshot of your presentation in progress that includes the number of participants, and share it on the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge page as a new post. You can also create TikTok clips related to what an IH does—just share the link on the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge page. Winners of the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge will be selected based on the number of presentations given and audience members reached, with special consideration for creativity.
Last year, the first-place winner of the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge was Tim Paz, CIH, of the Potomac Local Section. Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Tim, and he offered some words of advice for those interested in participating in the Challenge.
Gouhar Nayeem: Why did you get involved in the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge?
Tim Paz: I got involved in the Challenge to give back to the profession, which has given me steady employment and opportunities to learn about different types of processes and industries. I can’t stress enough the importance of giving back. I used to play high school soccer, and many alumni would give their time to coach and teach us skills that I still value. I also do a lot of mentoring. Our involvement, time, and effort ensure the survival and growth of the profession so it can thrive. The Challenge is also a great way to gain leadership opportunities that I wasn’t necessarily getting from my job. Sometimes you have to create new leadership opportunities for yourself, and AIHA provides so much of that. It's just a matter of being proactive.
GN: Why is the Challenge important?
TP: The Challenge is an excellent way for many students and early-career professionals to get involved, given their expertise in technology and social media. They can do outreach in ways that older professionals may not be as in tune to.
GN: What tips can you offer? What worked?
TP: The best tips I can suggest use engaging media, storytelling, and expressions of emotion and passion. For example, compelling videos and PowerPoints are impactful tools that are accessible in the AIHA Outreach Center for a younger audience. I would suggest speaking on the rewarding aspects of the career, such as job satisfaction, chances to help others and make a difference, job security, and a decent salary.
Telling personal stories is also very helpful to convey emotion and captivate your audience. For example, my dad was the reason I became an IH. He worked for an aerospace company, working on all the major space programs as an aircraft mechanic. He helped put a man on the moon! He inspired me to think big and do something unique in terms of my career, and I ended up working for the same aerospace company. I’m so proud to be an IH because we help make the world a better place, and I think that touches many students.
GN: How would you suggest reaching out to educators?
TP: Connect with local chapters and communities who are looking for STEM presentations for schools. You can volunteer to judge science fairs through your local sections and network by connecting with science teachers about speaking opportunities. NIOSH also has presentation materials available for teen safety in entry-level jobs.
I also suggest reaching out to your local community for opportunities. Underserved communities require outreach, so I would, for example, contact Hispanic organizations through social media or reach out to schools with high percentages of people of color so we can diversify the pool of IH/OEHS practitioners.
Click on the Virtual #IAMIH Challenge page for more information on how to get involved.
Related: For tips on conducting virtual presentations, read Jonathan Klane's article "Training in a Pandemic" in the February 2021 Synergist.