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Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Forensic Science Employees Receive Citizen Award

A Citizen Award has been presented to two Marshall Forensic Science Center employees for their efforts in keeping the 2023 National Boy Scout Jamboree safe. 

Taylor Koepfler, a DNA technician, and Chloe Cazad, a level-one forensic evidence technician, received the West Virginia Board of Sanitation Citizen Award at the annual Public Health Conference on Sept. 27 in the Canaan Valley Conference Center. 

“It was an enduring feeling to receive the award,” Koepfler said. “We spent a lot of hours at the jamboree, so it was a great feeling to know our time was recognized.”

She went on to say, “We were often up until 3 a.m. trying to make sure the results got published so that we could keep the Boy Scout community safe.”

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The award recognized Koepfler and Cazard’s wastewater testing performed at campsites during the 2023 National Boy Scout Jamboree held in July.  

“We were nominated for the award by a lady named Judy who is a part of the West Virginia Public Health Association,” Cazad said. “She acknowledged all the time we had put in and what the job entailed and wanted us to be recognized for that.”

Wastewater surveillance is a way to track infectious diseases in a community by testing the wastewater for the presence of pathogens.

The testing was done through a mobile wastewater surveillance lab from WaTCH-WV, which is a collaboration with West Virginia University, Marshall University and the WV Department of Health and Human Resources that tests wastewater samples around the state to track public health.

The surveillance at the jamboree served as a security measure against an outbreak of either norovirus or COVID-19.

“In the past, there have been outbreaks of norovirus, which is a stomach-based virus that spreads quickly,” Cazad said. “We did not find norovirus this year, but we did find traces of COVID-19 being present at a campsite.”

Koepfler and Cazad’s main duties involved processing, extracting and running the wastewater samples through a PCR system.

“We were at the jamboree for a whole week and spent five to 10 hours a day doing the whole process,” Cazad said, “which was tiring and solely volunteer, but we felt it was right for us to be down there in order to keep everyone healthy and safe.”

“We collected samples of people’s wastewater at specific sites in effort to detect a virus before it became an outbreak,” Koepfler said. “Every day, we tested the samples, got results and reported the results to jamboree officials who could then isolate people as needed and take the proper measures if something was detected.”

When they got the results back, Cazad said they were able to isolate the campsite from the rest of the jamboree to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

Around 15,000 people attended the jamboree, and the COVID-19 cases reported were less than 100.

“It was super important for us to be there to maintain safety for not only the Boy Scouts, but also the leaders, military and other volunteers who were there,” Cazad said.

Cazad added that people visited the jamboree from all over the country. With them being there for wastewater testing, she said  it kept an outbreak from taking place, and people could enjoy themselves while also staying healthy.

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About the Contributor
Jada Mills, Student Reporter
Jada Mills is a junior at Marshall University majoring in broadcast journalism. She is a student reporter for The Parthenon from Beckley, West Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys shopping, hanging out with her friends and working out. She is also a member of the sorority Alpha Xi Delta. Jada aspires to work as a news anchor for a local station near her hometown.
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