2020 Public Health Achievement Award Recipients

Washington County is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Public Health Achievement Awards. Presented annually by the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Department of Public Health & Environment, the awards recognize residents in three categories (youth, individual, and group) who devote their time, energy, and talents to improving the community’s health and the environment.

A diverse panel of Public Health & Environment staff evaluated nominations across three categories before selecting the 2020 winners. “These outstanding leaders understand the value of public health in our community,” said Lowell Johnson, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment. “Their contributions are making a meaningful impact in Washington County and beyond. Today, as we face the most challenging public health crisis of our lifetimes, we are reminded of the importance of public health and the role individuals can take in building a healthier community.”

Winners of the 2020 Public Health Achievement Awards will be celebrated at a future Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting.

About the 2020 winners

Maria Bonilla, Individual Category

Recognizing that Newport had limited food access, with the closest grocery store miles away for most households, Maria Bonilla set out to create the Newport Farmers Market to ensure residents could shop for fresh, local, and healthy foods close to home. Bonilla worked tirelessly to secure grants, design marketing materials, spread the word in the community, recruit vendors, and work at the market every weekend (June-August) throughout the 2019 season. Bonilla created a fun and welcoming environment for visitors of all ages by collaborating with community organizations such as Newport Fire, and the Skoolie bus, as well as local musicians and DJs.

Oakdale Wellness 50+, Group Category

Over the past five years, Oakdale Wellness 50+ has delivered programming to support the health and well-being of older adults in Oakdale. They have partnered with numerous organizations, including Oakdale Parks and Recreation, Washington County library, Lions Club, HyVee, and local faith communities. The volunteer-led team has consistently shown innovation in developing engaging programs, such as walking programs to promote physical activity, development of a “healthy eating for two” cookbook, a healthy book club, and a winter walking demo. More than 150 individuals participate in Wellness 50+ annually.

PowerUp Teen Leadership Council, Youth Category 

Through leadership and service, the PowerUp Teen Leadership Council empowers and inspires teens across the St. Croix Valley and East Metro to become champions for healthier lifestyles among their peers and communities. The council acts as a youth governing board for PowerUp, helping to develop and improve programs, and serves as mentors to PowerUp Student Ambassadors. The council also provides consultation and insight to a variety community partners, including local health care systems, schools, and other organizations in the area.

About the Public Health Achievement Awards

Washington County’s Public Health Achievement Awards are celebrated as part of National Public Health Week, April 6-12, 2020. Now in its 25th year, National Public Health Week is a movement to create the healthiest nation in one generation. For more information, see www.co.washington.mn.us/publichealthaward.