Utah State University has the Land Grant mission of serving all corners of our state with evidence-based information, support and collaboration. This new office will serve as a hub for our health volunteers, tribal and rural wellness outreach efforts, and other health initiatives.

About Us

People First

We value our staff and partners as whole human beings who do great work with us, but also have hobbies and families and goals. We build our projects based on what people in our communities identify as pressing health needs, and work with them to create sustainable problem-solving, growth, and funding approaches.

Our Process

Generally, a person or group approaches us with a concern or set of concerns of what they are seeing in their town or county. We work together to identify strengths and needs in that community, usually via a coalition or a small group of key stakeholders. We then bring in additional sectors to ensure all essential viewpoints have representation. We believe strongly in the “Nothing About Us, Without Us” principle. For example, if we are working in substance use, our teams include people in recovery and those who have been or are being directly affected. We also bring in content experts as needed to ensure we have the best science present at the table. Our big tent philosophy encourages as many stakeholders as possible to have a voice while amplifying pre-existing efforts.

After a community group has clearly identified a need, and some actions they would like to take to address that need, the Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement helps to secure funding to achieve those goals.

Our team supports communities in applying for and successfully implementing grants from federal, state and private funders. The community brings the passion and the day-to-day implementation efforts, and we bring the grant-writing experience, accounting, federal reporting, and project management to ensure that on-the-ground efforts can focus on their mission. Our mission is to get communities the resources they need, while managing most of the burden and complexities that come with grants. We also seek to move each community along a pathway of sustainability by growing their capacity. We help identify avenues by which their projects can become programs that are embedded in their local landscape, evolving as needed to address changing issues.

Focus Areas

We take a community-based participatory action approach, which means our office doesn’t specialize in specific health topics. Rather, we specialize in facilitation, grant writing, and implementation to improve health equity and community engagement. We take a broad view of health and wellness, in alignment with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Wellness Wheel. We approach financial, environmental, social, physical, spiritual, intellectual, occupational and emotional health all as key elements of healthier communities. Where you live and what resources you have available, including jobs and transportation and housing, can all affect health in profound ways.

Why We're Here

Utah State University has a land-grant mission of serving every corner of our state by connecting campus resources and expertise with everyone. The Cooperative Extension system includes offices in every county, and a network of faculty both on- and off-campus to meet local needs. This Office is the hub of health and wellness outreach in Cooperative Extension for the state of Utah.

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Debunked Podcast

A local podcast dispelling myths about the opioid crisis. Each episode will be released on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Harm & Stigma Reduction & Opiod Use Disorder Fact Sheets

To learn more about Harm Reduction, best practices, reducing stigma, and opioid use disorder facts, please view our official fact sheets.

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Master Health Volunteer Program

The Master Health Volunteer Program empowers people to make a difference in their own communities. Take our online course, with support from your local county USU Extension faculty.


Tribal & Rural Opiod Initiative

The Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative targets rural and tribal communities in Utah, and works to reduce stigma around treatment best practices. Harm reduction is the gold standard, evidence-based best approach to substance use treatment, and includes syringe distribution, overdose reversal medications, and medication assisted treatment, like methadone. Due to stigma around these approaches, we work to educate health professionals and community members about the scientific evidence, in the hopes of eliminating myths and promoting health. Learn about our virtual harm reduction training for substance and opioid use disorder professionals.

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Well Connected Communities

Well Connected Communities supports coalition development around local health needs to grow place-based health and wellness. Teams across Utah create multi-sector coalitions to tackle tough social issues like diabetes prevention, substance use, and mental health. With a youth-led model, this initiative embodies the best of youth-adult partnerships in creating health equity. Visit Well Connected Communities website for more information.

Bridging Harm Reduction and Recovery in Rural Communities

2021 Intermountain Tribal & Rural Opioid Wellness Summit

This year's opioid wellness summit offers best practices, community panels, and opioid harm reduction education via Zoom, Tuesday, May 18, through Thursday, May 20, 2021. Guests will hear from leading researchers, service providers, and community members as they discuss the intersection of opioids, mental health, and well-being. Our goal is to inform and strengthen rural and tribal prevention, treatment and recovery services through increased understanding of harm reduction, stigma and supportive recovery environments. Get more details and a complete schedule.