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18 Kingsford Charcoal employees complete WKU certificate program

Eighteen Kingsford Charcoal employees recently earned the Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health, a program offered through a partnership between Kingsford and WKU.

Eighteen Kingsford Charcoal employees recently completed a certificate program offered by WKU. Representatives of WKU's Department of Public Health attended a ceremony earlier this month in Summer Shade. (Photo by Elizabeth Main)

The certificates were awarded at a reception at the Summer Shade plant in early February.

Developed by WKU Department of Public Health Associate Professor Ritchie Taylor, and Assistant Professor Vijay Golla, the 15-credit hour certificate is a career-training program focused on protecting human health from occupational hazards in the built and natural environments.

The department delivered the program in a hybrid format, with online instruction supplemented by face-to-face classes at the Kingsford facility.

Kingsford Plant Manager Rob Service said the idea for the program came in 2009 from a need to improve safety and enhance the culture at his plant. “We wanted more than just courses. We wanted a diploma,” said Service. “So we decided to aim for the stars.”

They contacted WKU to see if a program was available that could fit their needs. A program like that didn’t exist, so the WKU Department of Public Health developed one.

Rob Service, Kingsford plant manager

That fall, the program was sent through the curriculum process and became a formal WKU program of study, allowing any WKU student to earn the certificate either independently or as part of a degree program. “I can’t imagine a better program,” said Service. “Our employees were able to learn in an environment where they felt comfortable and supported by their peer group.”

Dr. Gary English, head of the Department of Public Health, congratulated the students at the recognition ceremony, stating that the program will help them do their job in a more meaningful way and better their community, which is what education is all about.

A graduate certificate program in environmental health and safety is also available through WKU Cohort Programs. For information about these and other programs, contact Laura Ricke, director of Cohort Programs, at 270-745-2481 or laura.ricke@wku.edu. WKU Cohort Programs is a unit of Extended Learning and Outreach.

Contact: Susan Esters, (270) 745-8922.

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