Blue Zones Project staffer Merritt Driscoll at work in the project's headquarters in downtown Klamath Falls.
Photo by Lynn Ketchum
The Extension Family and Community Health (FCH) program is helping individuals, families and communities achieve healthy outcomes. Our county faculty are located in the communities we serve, allowing us to achieve these outcomes through a variety of programs delivered in all 36 counties, supported by campus faculty expertise and local partnerships.
Affiliated with the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, along with our sister 4-H Youth Development Program, we are Oregon State’s Public Health Extension. Our affiliation with a school of public health provides us with unique opportunities. This structure facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration with other public health researchers, offering potential for creative solutions to improve health outcomes for the communities we serve.
Our program goals target people with informational, behavioral and support strategies so they can make healthy and safe choices. It also targets place with environmental and collaborative strategies, systems and policy interventions, and capacity building for healthy and safe environments.
Our educators reach over 40,000 Oregonians through our SNAP-Ed Program(The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education). SNAP-Ed brings together federal, state, and local resources to deliver programs focused on obesity prevention and nutrition education to SNAP eligible audiences. We do this through direct education, social marketing (including our awarding winning Food Hero campaign), and policy, systems and environmental change activities.
FCH has been integral to the work that translated into a RWJ Culture of Health Community Award in the Columbia Gorge Region, and in Klamath County, which is now a 2018 RWJ finalist. The RWJF Culture of Health Prizeis an annual competition that awards $25,000 to Prize winning communities that are making great strides in their journey to better health. “Selected from nearly 200 applicants, these RWJF Culture of Health Prize finalists recognize what it takes to build a healthy community. They have set themselves apart with innovation grounded in evidence; partnerships across non-profit, education, business, and local government sectors, among others; and an unrelenting commitment to all residents having an opportunity to lead their healthiest lives” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “We now look forward to visiting these finalist communities to learn more about their work and to help spread their ideas and solutions throughout America.”
Both of those communities are also active Blue Zone Projects®. They are joined by Grants Pass and the Dalles as the other two such projects in Oregon. Each Blue Zones Project® uses this national community-wide well-being improvement initiative to encourage healthier choices. The initiative itself encourages sustainable changes in the built environment and social networks. The project often works for policy and programmatic changes throughout communities including worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, faith-based organizations and neighborhoods. The intent is to create vibrant, economically viable communities, less hindered by the poor health outcomes of their populations.