Community Engagement

We, at Blue Earth County Public Health, believe that engaging with community members is important to the success of our endeavors. By combining our public health expertise and the community "collective intelligence", we will more accurately identify problems, develop more effective solutions, leverage community resources to create impact and develop new leaders who will advocate for the long-term health of their families and communities.

Community Partners

Our work hinges on being able to successfully partner within our communities. We are fortunate to have a wide array of community partners, including Blue Earth County schools; city and county governments; health care organizations; civic organizations and private businesses - all of whom are dedicated to forming a healthier future for Blue Earth County.

Our focus when working with community partners is on implementing sustainable policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change. We primarily accomplish this in the following 3 ways:
  1. by awarding grants for eligible projects, following guidance and with oversight both internally and from the MN Department of Health
  2. by providing technical assistance and expertise about best practices to support planning and implementation
  3. by facilitating local health promotion initiatives
Our recent grants, partners and initiatives (2018-present) are highlighted below:
  1. Communities
  2. Health Care
  3. Schools
  4. Worksites

Active Communities

  • City of Lake Crystal, grant for bike racks and bike repair stations $3,100
  • City of Mankato, grants for pedestrian improvements (RRFBs) $48,770
  • City of Mapleton, grant for bike racks and a bike repair station $4,680
  • City of Pemberton, grant for pedestrian improvements (benches) $6,000
  • Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Advocates and Bicycle Alliance of MN, community partners for bicycle safety education & operation of two bike fleets; sponsor of Mankato River Ramble $250 
  • SMILES Center for Independent Living, participate in Inclusive Health Coalition work in support of accessible pedestrian infrastructure

Community Based Agriculture

  • Bethlehem Lutheran Community Garden in partnership with SMILES Center for Independent Living, grant for accessible garden infrastructure $703
  • Blue Earth County Community Farm, grants for garden infrastructure and expansion $10,733
  • Eagle Lake Community Garden, grant for garden infrastructure $1,010 
  • Heart & Soil Community Garden, grants for garden expansion $4,129
  • Mapleton Community Garden (Maple River Chamber of Commerce), grant for garden infrastructure $230

Healthy Food Access

  • Crossroads Campus Ministry at MSU Mankato, grants for food pantry refrigerator and freezer $4,016
  • Fare for All, partner for healthy food access through affordable produce and meat packages
  • Hunger Assistance Network, participate in network of local entities to coordinate efforts and discuss needs
  • Roots Shoots & Boots, facilitate food network efforts committed to addressing healthy, safe, affordable food access in the Mankato and North Mankato area

Smoke-Free Housing

  • American Lung Association MN, contracts to provide education to and support for local property owners and managers implementing or strengthening smoke-free housing policies $3,177

Community Leadership Team (CLT)

Our work is guided and enhanced by our Community Leadership Team (CLT). Our CLT is comprised of a diverse group of individuals from Blue Earth County schools; city and county governments; health care; civic organizations and private businesses - all of whom are dedicated to forming a healthier future for Blue Earth County.
Our CLT Charter provides more information about the roles and responsibilities of CLT members. 

CLT Meetings

Our CLT meets quarterly at the Blue Earth County Historic Courthouse.

CLT Members

BE WELL staff appreciate the time and energy that the following CLT members and organizations contribute to guiding our efforts. 

Charles Androsky, MS,  Mankato-North Mankato Area Planning Organization
Sarah Beiswanger,  Mankato Area Foundation
Mary Ann Boe,  DevaNation
Elizabeth Harstad, MSW, LISW,  Greater Mankato Area United Way
Laura Hoekstra, RD, LD,  Mankato Area Public Schools
Lisa Hoffman Wojcik, MS,  Mankato LEEP
Jen Horstmann,  Blue Earth County
Mohamed Ibrahim,  Mayo Clinic Health Systems
Rachel Jones,  U of M Extension SNAP-Ed
Kelly Kunkel, MS, CHES,  U of M Extension
Lori Marti  MSU, Mankato Student Health Services
Kelly McDonough,  Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc.
Kelly McIntee, MA,  American Lung Association
Mark Piepho, MS,  Blue Earth County Commissioner
Ceceli Polzin,  Mankato Clinic
Dave Schostag,  ECHO Food Shelf Board Member
Mike Stalberger, MA,  Blue Earth County
Darcy Stueber, CDM, CFPP, FMP,  Mankato Area Public Schools
Jess Thormodsgard, RN, BSN, LSN,  Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School District 
Joe Visker, PhD, CHES,  MSU, Mankato Community Health Program
Christi Wilking,  Mayo Clinic Health System
Ryan Yunkers, EdD,  Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center
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Community Assessment

Because BE WELL is a locally driven initiative where local public health and community partners implement policy, systems and environmental changes to address the specific health needs of our communities, community-specific data are essential to inform our efforts. By conducting a local community health assessment survey via a probability sample survey of adults, we have access to data about Blue Earth County adult health behaviors related to BE WELL goals.

Blue Earth County Health Needs Assessment, Fall 2016
Blue Earth County Health Needs Assessment Trend Report (2010, 2013, & 2016 Adult Surveys)
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For more information

To learn more about what BE WELL is doing in Blue Earth County, including how to partner with us in making our communities healthier places to live, feel free to contact us.
Kristen Friedrichs, MA
(507) 304-4411

Gretchen Mauerman
(507) 304-4450
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To learn more about what SHIP is doing in the rest of Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Department of Health SHIP webpage.