2018 Healthiest State Award winners

By Lauren Kollauf on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How the 2018 winners used their prize money to make a difference in their communities

In February, the 2018 the Healthiest State Initiative announced the winners of the inaugural Healthiest State Awards. These winners were recognized for improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of Iowans and were each awarded a monetary prize to continue those efforts.

Ahead of the upcoming HSI Awards on February 7, 2019, last year's winners are sharing how they spent their prize money:

Workplace winners: $1,000 each

Meredith Corporation

Meredith Corp. used their funds to provide a healthy cooking demonstration and meal for families served by the Children and Family Urban Movement after-school program. They partnered with Hy-Vee chefs to prepare recipe featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine.


Tim O'Neil, executive director of Employee Benefits and Wellness, explained why the company chose to use their prize dollars to promote the importance of healthy eating: "It was a great way to make a positive difference in the lives of many families in the community and was a natural fit with Meredith’s wellness program." 


Each CFUM family also received a bag full of kitchen supplies, resources and cooking magazines. They were also given a copy of the recipe that was served and a $100 Hy-Vee gift card so they could purchase the ingredients and prepare the meal again at home.

Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health

Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health, based in Mason City, used their funds toward purchasing an InBody Analyzer to complement their annual employee biometric screenings and community events. 


"The machine allows me to better understand how one's diet is affecting their metabolic health, including hormonal balance and where they are prone to storing adipose tissue," said Katelyn Nicholson, a dietitian with the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health.

The department has also partnered with a local family physician who is referring patients for the InBody Scan and nutrition consultations with CGCDPH dietitian as a public service.

Education winner: $5,000

Pierce Elementary 

Pierce Elementary in Cedar Rapids installed two water bottle refill drinking fountain stations in their building. 


"The students love the water bottle fountain stations and are using them frequently. We have a lot of students bringing water bottles from home to fill them up," said Matt Brems, fourth grade teacher at Pierce.

The school is also considering purchasing pedometers for the 4th and 5th grade students or adding additional playground equipment. Since winning the award, Pierce has also started a student-led wellness group that determines how to help students be healthier and more active.

Individual Impact winner: $1,000

Angela Drent

Angela Drent, of the Siouxland District Health Department, divided her prize between multiple projects:

  • Development of toddler splash pad at the inclusive Miracle League field and playground in Sioux City
  • Construction of raised bed, on-site garden at Siouxland District Health Department
  • Attendance at Iowa Parks and Recreation Association Regional Rendezvous, which focused on making parks and recreation programs, facilities, and playgrounds more accessible to people of all abilities

"We were very thankful to have had this funding which allowed us to get some great ideas for future programming and environmental changes and, in addition, it provided an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with community partners," Drent said.


A toddler splashpad at the Miracle League park and playground in Sioux City is one of the projects that Angela Drent helped to fund with her Healthiest State Award prize money.

Community winners: $5,000 each

Award funds courtesy of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Learn more about how your community can get involved with Healthy HometownSM  powered by Wellmark.

Sioux City — The city used the funds to towards making the ice rink at Cone Park, which features both winter and summer recreational opportunities, more accessible. Learn more about why Sioux City was chosen as an award-winning Healthy Hometown.

Cedar Rapids — The city used the funds on Healthy Cedar Rapids promotional events and signage as well as expansion of their their Bike Share program. Learn more about why Cedar Rapids was chosen as an award-winning Healthy Hometown.

Mason City — The city used the funds to reprint and update their Bike MC bicycle trail maps and helped with staffing costs and a city volunteer appreciation event. Learn more about why Mason City was chosen as an award-winning Healthy Hometown.