Posted April 12, 2017 by the Healthiest State Initiative

Healthiest State Initiative, a nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, announces the recipients of 15 Iowa Walking College fellowships.

The 15 fellows hail from 14 communities touching almost one million Iowans across 13 counties. The Fellowship enables community advocates from across the state to participate in a six-month training program designed to strengthen local efforts to make communities more walkable and livable.

“Recognizing that walking is one of the easiest, most affordable and accessible ways for us to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, we are excited to offer a training opportunity to increase local efforts that can support walking and walkability,” said Jami Haberl, executive director at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.

The Iowa Walking College was created in response to a need identified through the Collaborative Workshop on Walkable Communities in Iowa held last August to address opportunities to improve walkability in the state. Designed to assist local advocates in becoming effective change agents in their communities, the goal of the Iowa Walking College is to expand the knowledge of the advocates on walkability and establish a network of support to promote healthy outcomes across Iowa.

“AARP is proud to sponsor this inaugural Iowa Walking College Fellows program,” said AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern. “As Iowans of all ages strive to achieve a healthier lifestyle, we know that making it easier to walk for exercise, as well as making walking a viable, alternative mode of transportation, will help the state become a healthier and more livable place for all.”

The program will kick off on May 3 in Ames, with a daylong interactive session with experts in transportation and public health, including special guest Philip Bors, Technical Assistance Director at Active Living by Design. The rest of the program will incorporate online learning modules and a final in-person session focused on leadership. To culminate the fellow’s six-month learning experience, the fellows are invited to attend the National Walking Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota later this fall to learn from national experts and other walking advocates from across the nation.

The 2017 Iowa Walking College is presented by AARP Iowa. The Fellows are:

  • Angela Drent, Woodbury County
  • April Bril, Winneshiek County
  • Christina McDonough, Scott County
  • Elizabeth Wentzel, Story County
  • Jacki Schares, Black Hawk County
  • Joann Muldoon, Polk County
  • Kathryn Babcock, Chickasaw County
  • Kelli Gerdes, Cerro Gordo County
  • Kristin Saddoris, Polk County
  • Kristina Winfield, Jasper
  • Marcia Schaefer, Carroll County
  • Patti Hoffman, Jackson County
  • Rachel Schramm, Linn County
  • Kelly Nashleanas, Plymouth County
  • Connie Eastman, Polk County

About the Iowa Walking College:  The Iowa Walking College emulates the America Walks national organization that is devoted to making America a great place to walk. Curriculum is based on the America Walks programming and its online format. More information is available at or


The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members, including nearly 370,000 members in Iowa, and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. To learn more in Iowa, visit