Features Public Health Students

Reeling them in

Hayley is interested in how the world works around us.

A master’s degree student, Hayley Strenke has been busy shaping her future. The Oregon native studies Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), which she became interested in while an undergraduate student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“After I took an introductory environmental health class, I became interested in how the world around us – air, water, built environment, products and our work – ­impacts our health,” Hayley says. “I decided to pursue my MPH because I wanted a more specialized education in environmental and occupational health.”

Hayley now she uses her focus and drive to help reduce injuries among fishermen. As a result, she’s gotten the specialized education she was seeking both in and out of the classroom.

In the past year alone, she’s attended and/or presented at three conferences. Last October, she presented at the Northwest Occupational Health Conference in Spokane, Washington. Earlier this year, she gave a five-minute ‘ignite’ session presentation at the Cascadia annual symposium on environmental, occupation and population health in British Columbia, Canada.

Hayley also serves as president of Oregon State’s American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) student chapter. Through ASSE, she attended the Future Safety Leaders Conference in Lombard, Illinois, this past November. The event provided her the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, network and attend professional development workshops.

“Hayley is an amazing student who does well in all her classes and has been an important part of my research team,” says Associate Professor Laurel Kincl. “Her work is very impressive for a master’s student.”

Hayley credits much of her success to the supportive, caring and welcoming environment of the CPHHS and EOH department. She says that she appreciates how genuine everyone is and that she’s enjoyed learning the different perspectives of faculty and the closeness of her small cohort.

“It’s been an amazing experience to grow together as a group as we go through courses and internships and also as an individual as we pursue different areas of EOH and strive for our personal career goals,” she says.

Understanding and helping a dangerous profession  

Haley’s research stems from working alongside Laurel with the Fisherman Led Injury Prevention Program (FLIPP).

As part of FLIPP, Hayley’s assisted with developing injury prevention interventions based on surveys given to fishermen along the West coast about their injuries and opinions on safety. She’s helped with developing the interventions and outreach materials and conducting interviews and analysis ­– which she’s now using to write a manuscript. Hayley recently applied for and secured funding from the Professional Training Opportunities Program – which is funded through University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety ­– to develop short training videos based on fishermen’s safety concerns and interests.

The videos will become a part of the Fisherman First Aid and Safety Course, which was part of the FLIPP study. Oregon State’s Adventure Leadership Institute played an important role in developing the initial courses based on its existing marine wilderness first aid training course.

When completed, fishermen, the U.S. Coast Guard and wilderness first aid professionals will evaluate the videos, including:

  • Calling the Coast Guard when there’s an emergency
  • Conducting a vessel scene assessment after an emergency
  • Performing a vessel rescue for an injured crewmember

Hayley’s nearing the completion of her MPH in June 2018. She’s currently looking and applying for jobs following graduation and hopes to become a registered nurse and work in occupational health nursing.

“Public health – and specifically EOH – is important to study so that we know how different environmental factors impact human health,” Hayley says. “Employees should have the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and families should have the freedom to not worry about their loved ones who work in a dangerous occupation.”