Environmental Health Specialist with Virginia Department of Health (VDH) since 1990, VDH Rappahannock office since 1999. Past member of RappFLOW and RAWL. Hobbies: hiking, gardening, painting. Lives in Viewtown with her husband Surja Tamang, who works at the Amissville landfill. Rappahannock resident since 1995.
The Spark: My appreciation for the environment started at a young age when I regularly attended summer nature camp. My parents understood the importance of a clean environment and it rubbed off on me. I tagged along with my mom as she helped start a waste recycling program in my hometown of Lexington, MA. These early-life experiences led me to major in biology in college and pursue a life-long interest in environmental health and natural resource conservation.
Proudest Achievement: I love my work, but I am most proud of my family. I met my husband while trekking in Nepal in 2004 and after overcoming numerous immigration hurdles he and his son, Amrit, joined me in Rappahannock in 2005. Amrit is a graduate of RCHS and George Mason University, and after a stint in the Peace Corp, is attending the London School of Economics. During this coronavirus pandemic my work with restaurants and business owners to clarify and implement health and safety guidance has been quite rewarding. But the credit really goes to them for coming up with innovative ways to stay in business and serve their customers while following public health guidelines.
Biggest Challenge: Keeping up with COVID-related issues on top of the other programs I am responsible for can be a real challenge. The environmental health part of VDH has a broad set of responsibilities which includes food safety (restaurant inspections), tourist establishments, onsite wells and septic systems, rabies, and general environmental complaints. Working with numerous private and public stakeholders on these programs, plus COVID concerns, keeps me pretty busy. But I welcome the variability and the challenge.
Why It Matters: Foremost, I believe the VDH COVID health guidelines that have been followed by Rappahannock businesses and citizens have helped prevent illnesses and saved lives. Right now, that matters most. But I think my work in other areas also makes a difference in our community. Proper siting of drinking water wells and septic systems protect the public health and improve water quality; working with food establishments on safety practices; and working to control rabies all benefit our community.
Favorite Rappahannock Treasure: This county has such a unique combination of natural beauty, a moderate climate, and lots of interesting people. The scale here is manageable and personally knowing the many people I work with fosters in me an affection and sense of responsibility toward this community. I treasure that.
— Bob Hurley for Foothills Forum