When Environmental Health Director Scott Uhlich talks about his work at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), he reminds listeners that environmental health programs are the cornerstone of public health. At this year’s Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) conference, his peers agreed and recognized him for his passion and contributions with the Environmentalist of the Year award.
|Scott Uhlich (center) is congratulated by
(L) Deborah Riner, GPHA President-Elect, and
(R) Dr. Kathryn Martin, GPHA President, as Environmentalist of the Year.
After 35 years in the trenches of public health, Uhlich’s peers shared many accolades in their nominations.
“Scott’s contributions and outstanding leadership for the Environmental Health Program, not only in recent years but throughout his career, are simply unprecedented,” said Tim Allee, environmental health director for the Northwest Health District. “He is committed to excellence and has a work ethic that produces outstanding results and motivation for all who have the pleasure of working for and with him.”
Uhlich began his career in 1979 as an Environmental Health Specialist in Gwinnett County. Since then, he has served in environmental health at the local, district and state levels, including District Environmental Health Director for the Northeast Health District and State Environmental Health Director at DPH. On April 30, Uhlich will retire from that role and step in to lead DPH’s national accreditation process.
“I know of no State Environmental Health Director with greater accomplishments than Scott,” said Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH’s director of health protection. “His successes are innumerable, but the one that impresses me the most is his creation of an environmental health career ladder. Through the career ladder, he leaves a legacy that can assure an exceedingly capable and competent environmental health workforce for years to come.”
Chris Rustin, deputy director of the Environmental Health section, is familiar with that career ladder. He will succeed Uhlich as environmental health director on May 1. Rustin describes Uhlich as a tireless champion for environmental health.
“I've had the opportunity to work side by side with Scott for the last five years, and I consider Scott a good friend and an excellent mentor,” Rustin said. “Scott is a humble leader, and it is fitting that he was awarded the GPHA Environmentalist of the Year as a culmination of an excellent career”
Uhlich says there is no greater reward than to be recognized by his peers for his work, but credits them their collective accomplishments over the three decades of his career.
“The Environmental Health program promotes and protects the well-being of citizens and visitors to Georgia by assuring the environmental conditions in which people live, work and play are healthy," Uhlich said. "This is accomplished by providing primary prevention through a combination of surveillance, education, enforcement and assessment.”
Uhlich is a graduate of the Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute. He was previously recognized by GPHA as the 1999 Sellers-McCroan award recipient for his work with the Environmental Health Investigation Team. Uhlich is also credited with the development and approval of a statewide environmental health workforce plan and a statewide assessment of environmental health programs using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 10 Essential Services Instrument, a first in the U.S.