Olga Morales admits she is kind of a workaholic.
Two decades ago, Olga Morales worked inside an egg products plant in Elizabeth, N.J., inspecting food to make sure it was safe for the public to purchase and to eat. Today, after rising through the ranks at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, she works at a desk job in Washington, D.C., where she investigates food safety violations by meat, poultry and egg products companies.
Despite the changes in her work environment between then and now, Olga feels the same excitement when she goes to work every morning as she did 20 years ago. “I am proud of my work, and I want everyone to know that,” she said.
Born and raised in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Olga knew when she was 5 years old that she wanted a career where she could help people and “make a difference” in their lives. It was in high school that her interest in science grew and she had the opportunity to do well in her favorite subjects—anything related to science. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the InterAmerican University in Puerto Rico, she began her federal career with the U.S. Department of Defense working as a health technician and held other health-related jobs in the private sector. Read more »
Dr. Nancy Atkins’ devotion to animals is deep-rooted and widespread. She says she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian before she even knew what a veterinarian was, and now she oversees the welfare of poultry and livestock across ten states. Dr. Atkins is a District Veterinary Medical Specialist at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which means she applies her compassion and 40 years of veterinary experience to make sure the animals intended for food in the western United States are handled humanely.
Dr. Atkins admits her job is tough, but she considers her position “the best job in the agency.” She is inspired by Dr. Temple Grandin, a fellow veterinarian and animal welfare advocate whose work continues to influence the way FSIS views animal handling. Dr. Atkins’ philosophy is, “Be vigilant and diligent. Animals are giving up their lives for us and they should be treated with the greatest respect and kindness under these circumstances.” Read more »
The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone began its spring 2012 tour this past Saturday at Baltimore’s B’More Healthy Expo. Staffed by five food safety experts, the Discovery Zone was arguably one of the top attractions at the expo, giving interactive tours and food safety prizes to at least 5,000 visitors in one day. FSIS’ Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson, who communicates through American Sign Language, captured the attention of deaf and hearing visitors alike with her presentations.
Bridgette estimates that about 15 deaf expo attendees stopped by the Discovery Zone, and each stuck around for quite some time to see what they could learn. They were thrilled that FSIS has a series of YouTube videos in ASL, called SignFSIS, on preventing food poisoning, and Bridgette wrote down the URL for her pet project so the videos could be found later. One happy customer told her, “Wow, it is truly fantastic to see a deaf employee working at the FSIS booth. For me, that makes it so much easier to ask food safety questions directly in ASL.” Read more »
Jeremy “Todd” Reed, Chief of the Analytical Design Branch in FSIS’ Data Analysis and Integration Group, says he finds more similarities than differences between his work in food safety and his former position at the Department of Defense.
With degrees in Chinese and political science, advanced credentials in mathematics, and co-authorship of a book titled The ETIM: China’s Islamic Militants and the Global Terrorist Threat (and a striking resemblance to actor Bradley Cooper), Jeremy “Todd” Reed sounds like the lead character in a spy movie. Luckily for the USDA and carnivorous Americans, Todd’s real job title is “Chief of the Analytical Design Branch, Office of Data Integration and Food Protection” at the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Read more »
The job of communicating food safety information to deaf and hard of hearing consumers is, literally, in Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson's hands.
“Food safety worker” may bring to mind images of scientists in lab coats, inspectors at processing plants, or investigators checking out what’s on supermarket shelves. A crucial but less recognized component of protecting the public from foodborne illness, however, rests on the shoulders of those who alert consumers about potential dangers and actions they should take to keep themselves healthy and safe (Goal 3 of FSIS’ FY 2011-2016 Strategic Plan). And some of those consumers can be difficult to reach. Enter Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson, a top-notch communicator who can make sense out of the most complex language and fashion it so that it is easily understood by consumers. Read more »
Lt. Nisha Antoine, in her U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps uniform, works at her desk in one of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s headquarters offices.
Nisha Antoine has always understood the relationship between personal health and public health. As a child with asthma, she spent a lot of time in the emergency room, and she was inspired by her doctors and nurses to want to take care of other children as an adult. From elementary school through college, Nisha enjoyed studying biology, a path she knew would eventually lead to a career of caring for others. Read more »