Iowa Walking College

By Lauren Kollauf on Sunday, May 19, 2019


Meet the fellows who will be learning about walkability

The Iowa Walking College is officially underway! 

The ten fellows selected to form the 2019 class convened in Ames on May 15 for their first meeting where they discussed the benefits of walkable communities and learned first-hand how to conduct a walk audit.

IWC2019

The 2019 Iowa Walking College fellows gather for a group photo before conducting a walk audit in Ames. 

Meet the fellows:

Becky Allgood

beckyHometown: Wilton

Job title: Executive Director of the Wilton Development Corporation

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To help promote a more walkable community and encourage folks to walk more.

What part of the program most excites you? To learn and strategies and project to promote walking/activities.

Fun fact:  I like to build dollhouses.

Kesha Billings

KeshaHometown: Coggon

Job title: Associate Planner/Trails Coordinator, City of Marion

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To learn more about how to make Marion a more inclusive community for all modes of transportation. 

What part of the program most excites you? Learning to encourage others to care and act to connect sidewalks and integrating walkability/connectivity into new developments.

Fun fact: I enjoy canning. The most interesting thing I can is pickled asparagus.

Jessie Bruns

JessieHometown: Glidden

Job title: Deputy City Clerk, City of Glidden

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? Our town just finished up Iowa's Living Roadways Community Vision process and our vision was focused on building better sidewalks to walk to different places in town, including the trail and school 

What part of the program most excites you? I think all of it so I can bring it back to the community.

Fun fact:  I have three beautiful children.

Chris Burch

ChrisHometown: Des Moines

Job title: Director of Racing & Events, IMT Des Moines Marathon

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To learn skills that I can apply to the IMT Des Moines Marathon events to make them more inclusive and walkable for participants of all abilities. 

What part of the program most excites you? Meeting other members of the Iowa Walking College from around the state to not only learn from one another but also to be able to support each other's efforts during the program and in future years.

Fun fact:  This past year I have been to Cancun, Orlando, Virginia Beach, Phoenix and Duluth. When I am traveling for work, often times I am able to participate in a half marathon race which can be a great way to discover a city that you have not been to before.

Abigail Chihak

AbigailHometown:  West Des Moines

Job title: Community Health Administrator, Dallas County Department of Public Health

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To gain the skills and tools needed to support Dallas County residents as they aim to make their communities healthier places to live.

What part of the program most excites you? Learning about new evidence-based programming and tools that promote healthy, active living across all generations and abilities. 

Fun fact: My main adventure buddy is Captain Steve Rogers, by lab/newfie mix. Cap loves helping me exercise, tend to our plants and make healthy meals.

Amber Farnan

AmberHometown: Glenwood

Job title: City Clerk, City of Glenwood

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? Our city is committed to improving the walkability of our town. Being able to conduct walk audits will help us determine what sidewalks need the most attention.

What part of the program most excites you? Learning how to conduct a walk audit and discovering possible grant funding opportunities.

Fun fact:  I love to walk and usually spend about 4-5 hours a week walking through our town. My family loves to spend time at our park where we can walk and play.

Beth Olsen

BethHometown: Atlantic

Job title: Cass County Director of Public Health

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To help my county learn to live healthier lives by creating active and inclusive communities. 

What part of the program most excites you? Learning more about built environments and walkable design for local planning and projects. 

Fun fact: My family ancestry has been traced back to Mayflower passengers: William and Mary Brewster.

Julie Winter

JulieHometown: Ames

Job title: Senior Planner, Region 6 Planing Commission (Marshalltown)

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To work with my communities in my planning region to be more walkable, healthy and vibrant.

What part of the program most excites you? Assessing how to make places safer and more pedestrian-friendly. Exploring how to implement these ideas and raise funds.

Fun fact: I live in Ames with four lovely backyard chickens, including Atilla the Hen and Hennifer Lopez.

Shannon Zoffka

JulieHometown: Garwin

Job title: CEO/Executive Director of Tama County Public Health & Home Care

Why did you apply for the Iowa Walking College? To be able to learn about walkability and enhance the communities we serve.

What part of the program most excites you? Learning how to evaluate walking areas and hope to engage community members in the process of being more walkable communities. I hope I can take what I learn and use it in all communities in the county in years to come.

Fun fact: I have a pet corgi named Mia.

(NOTE: Fellow Claire Shefchik of Tama County Public Health was unable to attend the first session.)

The Iowa Walking College, a six-month program facilitated by the Healthiest State Initiative and the Iowa Department of Public Health, empowers fellows to improve walkability in their communities. In-person and online coursework will continue through the summer and fall.

LEARN MORE: How former fellows are making a difference in their communities