A community’s climate resiliency is linked to the environment with every community facing specific climate-related challenges. The environmental health (EH) workforce plays an essential role in preparing and strengthening a community’s response and recovery to climate change. However, since 2008, more than 2000 EH staff have left the field, and over half were planning on retiring or leaving within the next 5 years. This trend was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with at least 1 in 3 public health employees contemplating leaving the workforce within the next year. The EH workforce is also not representative of the communities they serve with the majority being white and over 45 years old. This lack of alignment between the EH workforce demographics and the community they serve limits the adoption and impact of climate adaptation activities. The current workforce pipelines are available for highly trained and narrow-skilled personnel, yet many EH-related jobs remain unfilled. The extent to which public health and EH undergraduate programs can contribute to the current workforce remains unexplored. Students from community colleges and local universities are more likely to come from nearby communities and are more racially and ethnically diverse. Social representation is essential in engaging the local community in climate adaptation efforts and to strengthen community resiliency. Therefore, this proposal presents a plan to establish and strengthen the relationship between local colleges and EH departments. The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) will leverage its comprehensive training delivery system and network capacity to modernize and create new pipelines for the EH workforce that support the community’s climate adaptation challenges. NNPHI’s approach will create multiple points of entry/engagement for traditional and non-traditional EH stakeholders through the implementation of 4 interlocking strategies. NNPHI will engage
content experts in EH and leadership training and development, perform data-driven EH curriculum and job description reviews, and provide critical and actionable solutions. Inequities and barriers to entry into and retainment of underrepresented populations into the environmental and greater public health workforce will be addressed in this work. The project will culminate in the identification and establishment of apprenticeship pathways, and/or other educational and training modalities, to support the integration and advancement of underrepresented populations in STLT EH departments.