Young Professional 2017: Melissa Lantz
Melissa Lantz, Emergency preparedness specialist at the Benton-Franklin Health District
Describe the employer: The Benton-Franklin Health District is a bi-county health district serving both Benton and Franklin counties. The district provides a wide variety of public health services that protect and promote the health and wellness of all residents in Benton and Franklin counties.
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 14 years
What brought you here? Internship at the health district in 2003.
Do you have any family? Pets? Yes, my husband and two dogs (Hank and Brady).
Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: I chose community health education because I wanted to help people. I felt that many people were unaware of public health and what it did for them, and general health information. I wanted to be able to educate the public on health issues, and good health habits since that was never offered to my parents so they could teach me.
How do you stay competitive in your job/industry? I stay up on trainings and I jump at the chance to be involved to get more experience. I am certified in my profession as a certified health education specialist, which is a nationally recognized certification for health educators. I keep up with my continuing education credits to keep that certification.
What are your future career goals? My future career goals are to move up in the health district, to get my master’s in health administration, and someday be a manager at the health district.
Who are your mentors and what did they teach you? My first mentor was my mom. She is a supervisor at Tree Top Inc. and she has been through a lot not only at work but in life, and she taught me to always be myself, be honest, and work hard. My second mentor was my first supervisor at the health district, Heather Hill. She taught be how to be a professional. I was right out of college, and she hired me and took me under her wing, and taught me to how to interact in a professional manner and how to grow professionally.
What was the toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to over overcome? Public health funding is not always stable and as money changed, so did my positions at the health district. There came a point that I thought I was going to have to make a move and leave the district. This was so tough as I had spent my entire career at the district. I was lucky and funding came open for a different position, and that has happened more than once, and it is difficult, but I love the work I do.
What do you like most about what you do? I love helping people. I love being able to present them information and watch them learning the process, and see them use the bits of knowledge and information that I have taught them. I love interacting with other agencies and organizations. It widens my horizons and thoughts and I get to gain experience from them and that allows be to continue to grow.
What do you dislike most about your job? There is a lot of typing and writing with large regional plans that have a lot of data and information, which has to be updated annually. This is tough on my extrovert personality because I would much rather be interacting and teaching people the plans, but the emergency plans have to be updated, and all of that data is not going to input itself. Therefore, I need to do it.
What was your first job and what did you learn there? My first job was washing dishes in an assisted living facility. This job taught me a lot. Patience, and it actually taught me a work ethic. It made me a very hard worker. There were times that had to be met from getting the dishes in and washed from breakfast to turn around and make lunch, and I was drowning at first, but after I worked there a while, my boss told me I was the best employee she had ever had.
If you weren’t in your current field, what would be your dream job? My dream job would be to open up a bakery/cafe and coffee shop on the Oregon Coast, or even in town, to bake people yummy things and interact with them every day.
Tell us about your community involvement/community service: In the past I was the March of Dimes captain for the health district. I have been on the Relay for Life Committee, but am currently a team captain. I am currently a Make-A-Wish volunteer wish granter, which has by far been the most rewarding volunteer opportunity I have done. I just recently chose to volunteer for an organization called Team Rubicon which is a disaster response organization for veterans and civilians but focuses on veterans, and my dad was one, so I honor him by doing it.
What word best describes you? Enthusiastic
What is your biggest flaw? Taking criticism too personally and being overly self-critical.
What is your biggest pet peeve? People who chew with their mouth open and people who lie.
What do you do to relieve stress? Play softball and be outside in the mountains with my husband and my dogs.
Dream vacation? Ireland or Scotland
Favorite book? “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston
Favorite movie? “Grease”
Favorite band? Oak Ridge Boys
Favorite gadget? Anything Pampered Chef
Favorite website? Google
Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities? Play co-ed softball with Kennewick Parks and Recreation, hike Badger, and walk along the river.
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? That I love to sing. I was in choir from middle school to college, and I used to ride motorcycles.