Environmental Factor

November 2011


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BIG promotes wellness and community fellowship at annual fish fry

By Ian Thomas
November 2011

Antoinette Ward, at right, with her family at the fish fry

For EPA member Antoinette Ward, right, the fish fry was also a family affair, as she enjoys her meal with her husband and son. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Anshul Pandya, Ramendra Saha, Mitzie Walker and C.J. Tucker at the fish fry

Left to right, postdoctoral fellows Anshul Pandya, Ph.D., and Ramendra Saha, Ph.D., joined biologist Mitzie Walker and biomedical engineer C.J. Tucker for some extracurricular fellowship away from pipettes and beakers. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The Research Triangle Chapter of Blacks In Government (BIG)(http://www.bignet.org/regional/research_triangle/index.htm) Exit NIEHS welcomed members of NIEHS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and several other government agencies to NIEHS Oct. 6 for an afternoon of sunshine, food, and fellowship at the annual BIG fish fry. Held in the NIEHS covered picnic area, this year's event drew well over a hundred attendees, all of whom were eager to support a worthy cause, socialize with colleagues, and sample some good, old-fashioned Southern home cooking.

“We try to do this every year, as a way to bring people together and teach them a little about Southern culture,” explained NIEHS biologist Annette Rice, past president of BIG.

Featured on the day's menu was a choice of fried trout or whiting, along with coleslaw, french fries, baked beans, hushpuppies, and a mouth-watering assortment of freshly prepared cakes. While Rice freely admits that everyone deserves the occasional dietary splurge, such as fried trout and chocolate cake, furthering the public's understanding of everyday wellness is among BIG's top priorities.

“One of our goals this year is to increase community awareness about BIG's health and wellness program,” Rice said, gesturing to a table of volunteers behind her. “For that reason, we've partnered with the Environmental Polymorphisms Registry(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/clinical/join/epr/index.cfm) who are here all day to collect blood donations and help educate people on a number of other programs and protocols, both with BIG and NIEHS.”

Established in 1975, Blacks In Government(http://www.bignet.org/) Exit NIEHS is a non-profit organization devoted to giving African Americans in public service the chance to organize and use their collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. BIG's goals are to promote equity in all aspects of American life, excellence in public service, and opportunity for all Americans.

“This is always a fantastic event,” said NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, M.D., who attended along with fellow NIEHS leadership members Rick Woychik, Ph.D., David Miller, Ph.D., Joellen Austin, and Chris Long. “Excellent food, great conversation, plus it's a wonderful way to get people involved with many of the great programs we have here at the Institute, such as those in our Clinical Research Unit.”

(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

left to right, McMillan, Long, and Austin at the fish fry

NIEHS Office of Management employees, left to right, included Liz McMillan, Long, and Austin, who was enjoying the BIG event for the first time. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Woychik, Zeldin and Miller at the fish fry

Even NIEHS employees who spent their formative years north of the Mason-Dixon line have learned the joys of traditional Southern cuisine. Woychik, left, chats with Zeldin, as Miller, center, gets ready to join them. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS, EPA and USCIS at the fish fry 2011
The Research Triangle Chapter of BIG fish fry team included employees from NIEHS, EPA, and USCIS. Volunteers shown, left to right, are Stanis Sims (USCIS), Jennie Foushee (NIEHS), Antoinette Ward (EPA), Sheila Withers (NIEHS), Terry Jones (USCIS), David Sanders (EPA), Kimberly Peterson (NIEHS), Margaret George (NIEHS), Veronica Godfrey Robinson (NIEHS), Mary Ivy (USCIS), Myra Westmoreland (NIEHS), and Rice. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


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