Public health interns living the dream
When your office is the great outdoors, who can complain about going to work?
Just ask Mercyhurst University public health majors Jacquie Raymond and Theresa Laird, who are living the dream as summer interns of the Let’s Move Outside! (LMO) Erie County Recreational Passport, an innovative program promoting healthy living and physical activity through the use of public art, local history and outdoor recreation.
Among their responsibilities are community health education and community outreach. You can’t miss them at events around town, where they are marketing the LMO campaign, which engages area residents to walk, run or bike the 15 urban and rural trails in the county with the goal of increasing physical activity while learning more about the region’s historical sites.
“The internship is allowing me to take public health knowledge that I learned in the classroom and put it to use to help others,” said Raymond, a junior from Smethport. “For example, I am able to take knowledge about West Nile virus that I learned in class and educate the public about the importance of bug spray when hiking the rural trails.”
In helping others, she also helps herself. “I’m hoping to gain an understanding of what motivates people to get outside and be active,” she said. “I’m also learning about successful marketing and education techniques that are important to implementing public health initiatives.”
Raymond’s goal is to become a physician assistant or pharmacist.
“Making a positive change in people's lives is my goal,” said Laird, a junior from Erie, who is eyeing a career in hospital administration.
She said Mercyhurst goes far beyond the classroom to educate its students. “Being active in the community and making connections is a crucial skill that we learn at Mercyhurst,” she said. “I feel I am being prepared for a career, but also to carry a lifelong passion for public health.”
The Let’s Move Outside! Erie County Recreational Passport is a collaborative program of Erie Yesterday, Erie County Department of Health and VisitErie.
PHOTO: Jacquie Raymond, left, and Theresa Laird