In the Fall of 2011, Connors State College employees, Esther King, Rhoda Strode and Lyndsey Sullivan attended a wellness initiative meeting in Muskogee to learn more about what efforts could be made to become a healthier campus. Meeting leaders distributed packets on the steps of becoming a “certified healthy campus,” after a brief overview of the requirements it was apparent that Connors did not offer enough healthy initiatives to receive this honor. Health concerns were on the rise on a national and local level. Numerous national wellness programs were being put into place and helping to spread awareness in local communities. Newly appointed president, Dr. Tim Faltyn grabbed a hold of the idea of becoming a certified healthy campus and initiated a task force group to start work on the steps necessary to get there. Wellness Coordinator Esther King, Accounts Payable Director Nate Walker, Port Campus Administrator Rhoda Strode and College and Community Relations Director Lyndsey Sullivan combined their efforts in what would be a four month planning period to start offering employees and students healthier options.
In January 2012, the Task Force announced a “Live Well” Campaign which introduced a new fitness opportunity for students and employees, an “On-the-Menu” lunch and learn seminar series, new equipment in the Warner Campus Fitness Center and free membership, as well as the opportunity to become a member at Muskogee Swim and Fitness for a reduced price for employees and for free to any enrolled students. In an effort to reward employee’s hard work, the task force also introduced incentives and awards to participating members. In addition to the internal changes, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced an initiative to improve the health of Oklahomans and issued an executive order of February 6, 2012, prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in buildings, land and vehicles owned, leased or contracted for use by Oklahoma State Agencies. To comply with this executive order, officials at Connors State formed a committee to develop an institutional policy and plan for implementing the ban of tobacco use on all campuses. Becoming tobacco-free was just another step in creating a healthier environment for visitors, students and employees.
After a year of implementing new healthy initiatives, the institution finally had enough criteria to reapply to become a “Certified Healthy Campus,” a program of the Shape Your Future campaign intended to recognize college campuses that make a positive impact on the health of their employees and students. Foundation Director Ryan Blanton completed the application process and a couple months later received a letter from Terry Cline, Secretary of Health and Human Services, congratulating Connors State College on earning the second highest certification, Merit.
The college’s efforts have been recognized at a statewide luncheon in Oklahoma City as well as a local luncheon in Muskogee. Connors continues to stay committed in improving the lives, facilities and environment through healthy initiatives. The next step, Excellence Certification.