My Story

My Story: Rex Butler

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Rex Butler stands in front of a former Central Iowa Power Cooperative power plant.

In 1989, I was a 19-year-old living on my own. I was working three jobs trying to put myself through college. It was rough. I decided to join the Air Force because I could serve my country, have steady work/pay, and get tuition assistance and the GI Bill.

I was in the Delayed Entry Program, which meant that I had a window of time to choose my job. In the first week, I got a call on a Thursday telling me that there was an opening in air traffic control if I left on that Saturday. Well, had there been a little more notice, I might well be an air traffic controller today. But I wasn’t ready.

The next day I got a call from my recruiter telling me about a job in what the Air Force called Bioenvironmental Engineering. “Huh?” I asked. It turned out that this was a fancy name for a group that did all of the safety, environmental and industrial hygiene for the Air Force. I thought it might be kind of cool, so I said, “Yes.” I got all of the best training and hands-on experience that I could handle, and here I am 28 years later doing the same thing.

There have been so many rewards along the way. I’ve always had a passion for giving – helping other professionals starting out, serving on safety and health boards, teaching, protecting, having the honor of being a part of the National Safety Council Survivor Advocate Network for opioid abuse and overdose, becoming a CSP, and meeting so many wonderful people in this profession.

Nothing like this career ever crossed my mind when I started my adult life, but fate brought me to it. And that’s a real good thing.


Rex Butler
CSP, CET, OHST
Manager of Environmental and Safety
Des Moines, IA


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