Ottawa County environmental health specialist recognized nationally for outstanding contributions

Jessica Voglewede received a Certificate of Merit from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), thereby nationally recognizing her for outstanding contributions to the environmental health profession.

Jessica began her environmental health career at Ottawa County in 2013, and currently works as an Environmental Health Specialist on the Food Safety Team. She has demonstrated a strong ability to meld technical expertise and strong communication skills to set high standards for Ottawa County food establishments and communicate those standards to operators.

Technical expertise is vital for correctly interpreting the Food Code during an inspection and the ability to communicate the information to operators. While most inspectors pass the State of Michigan standardization review, it is the rare few that receive 100% from Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development during the field evaluation. Jessica is one of those few. During her first field evaluation, she received 100%- properly demonstrating 54 of 54 competencies.

Jessica’s ability to communicate as an ally rather than an adversary has proven to motivate operators to want to meet the standards. This is highlighted by the turnaround of establishments in her area that had demonstrated numerous issues and risks to food safety. Jessica was able to document these issues, communicate corrections needed, and hold the establishment accountable through various enforcement tools. This was all accomplished while providing a high level of customer service. Since the creation of the Ottawa County Customer Service Award in late 2014, Jessica has received 18 online nominations. The following are just a sampling of some of the feedback received.

“Jessica has consistently made a point of not only inspecting our stores but connecting with our employees. She makes it very clear that she is on our team, and wants us to be as successful as possible in all avenues, including serving safe products, and conducting best practices with regard to handling food.”

“Jessica Voglewede came into my restaurant for our routine inspection and I was the manager on duty at the time. I am personally new to the management team and all other inspections I have witnessed from afar, but really did not understand the full process of what they were looking at or checking on. Despite my inexperience with the walk through, she made sure I understood exactly what we were looking for, and why it was important to keep up what we were doing. As I had questions arise, she would stop what she was doing to explain everything, and even helped to point it out in the health code book so that I could further educate my staff on the importance of the task and that they were doing a fantastic job. Her service was above and beyond what I would have expected and I feel as if any questions or concerns arose during the year, I would be able to contact her without feeling the pressure as I would have expected prior to this experience.”

About the NEHA Certificate of Merit: Each State Environmental Health Association Affiliate may nominate one of its members and/or a team to receive a Certificate of Merit from the National Environmental Health Association, thereby nationally recognizing one of their own for outstanding contributions to the environmental health profession. Each affiliate may only nominate a single individual for this recognition. In 2016, the Michigan Environmental Health Association chose Jessica Voglewede as their nominee. Jessica was one of only 11 individuals nationwide to receive this recognition.

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