posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019 Iowa Walking College fellows announced

Fellows represent nine communities across the state

Ten fellows have been accepted to join the 2019 Iowa Walking College, a program facilitated by the Healthiest State Initiative and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The fellows represent nine different counties across the state, including urban and rural areas. The Iowa Walking College is a six-month program where fellows will explore ways to improve walkability in their communities.


Past Iowa Walking College fellows take part in a walk audit in Ames.

The 2019 Iowa Walking College fellows are:

  • Abigail Chihak, Dallas County Health Department
  • Amber Farnan, Glenwood City Clerk
  • Beth Olsen, Director of Cass County Public Health
  • Chris Burch,  Des Moines Marathon Race Director
  • Jessica Bruns, business professional in Glidden
  • Julie Winter, community planner in Marshalltown
  • Kesha Billings, trails coordinator in Marion
  • Rebeckah Allgood, community advocate in Wilton
  • Shannon Zoffka, Tama County Public Health
  • Claire Shefchik, Tama County Public Health

Iowa Walking College fellows will learn how to evaluate built environments, conduct walk audits, and secure funding for walkability projects. They’ll also learn how to act as community change agents and build relationships with diverse stakeholders.

RELATED: How former fellows are making a difference in their communities

“We are excited to continue expanding our network of local walkability advocates,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative.  “The Class of 2019 is a diverse group, representing a variety of previous walkability and professional experiences. The fellows will have a lot to learn from one another.”

IWC logo

The 2019 Iowa Walking College will convene for the first time on May 15 in Ames where they will participate in a walk audit and begin action planning for their own community. The coursework will continue through the summer and fall.

The Iowa Walking College was launched in 2016 as a pilot before welcoming 15 fellows in 2017 and 12 in 2018. The six-module curriculum is modeled on the America Walks National Walking College and includes in-person meetings as well as online coursework.