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Public Health Achievement Awards
Honoring advocates of health

​The Dakota County Board of Commissioners presented Public Health Achievement Awards to three local residents at their Board meeting Tuesday, April 9.

Greg Michael, an advocate for NAMI Minnesota; Jo Zimmel, a physical education teacher in the West St. Paul School District; and the Hastings Boomer Advisory Council were all recognized for their efforts of building and sustaining healthy families and communities in Dakota County.

Michael, who was given the award in the “youth” category, is the vice chair of the Local Advisory Council for Children’s Mental Health. He is an advocate for reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and increasing mental health support for youth and young adults. Michael leads the Young Adult Connections support group sponsored by NAMI Minnesota and is on NAMI’s Youth Transition Advisory Board.

Zimmel, who was awarded in the “individual” category, has helped launch many innovative projects while working as a physical education teacher at Garlough Elementary School in West St. Paul. The projects have been designed to increase students’ physical activity through various clubs for running, biking and snowshoeing. Zimmel represents the school on the district wellness committee, and provides training to other teachers in Dakota County on practical ways to increase physical activity during the school day.

The Hastings Boomer Advisory Council topped the “community group” category through its active work with Hastings Community Education and the Hastings City Council in making the town a “Community for a Lifetime.” The Boomer Advisory Council—made up of Greater Hastings Community Education, the city of Hastings, DARTS, Dakota County’s Communities for a Lifetime Initiative and Hastings residents—has designed programs for residents in the Boomer age category, and recently developed a citywide survey.

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners established the Public Health Achievement Awards in March 2000 to recognize and honor the contributions of Dakota County residents who devote their time, energy and talents to creating a healthy future for their fellow County residents.