Tillamook County Wellness “Why I’m In” – Dusti Linnell, Oregon State University


The Tillamook County Wellness “Why I’m In” interview series highlights our community partners and what has inspired and motivated them to work toward the common goal of improving community health.
“WHY I’M IN …” Dusti (Jessica) Linnell, Oregon State University, Family & Community Health

What drew you/your organization into the Year of Wellness, now Tillamook County Wellness?
Linnell: I first got involved in the Year of Wellness when I joined the OSU Extension service in 2016. Nancy Kershaw encouraged me to start attending meetings since what was happening with the Year of Wellness was so aligned with my role in supporting family and community health.
I was struck by how many people were involved and how excited they were to be working together The passion of the leaders, and everyone involved, spoke to me. It felt like this was something that could really work and could have a deep impact in supporting the health of everyone in the county.

What, if any, changes have you seen come about as a result of this work?
Linnell: There are so many different things I could talk about. One thing is how many people know about Tillamook County Wellness and how invested people are. From a professional perspective, the level of collaboration I have seen come out of this is really powerful. There is something special about this work and how it has brought people together to make connections in new ways. I hear conversations where someone says, “Hey, I am working on this project. You could really help me. How can we work together on this?” That’s been really huge. I’ve worked in other places where it just isn’t like that.

What have you learned from being involved in this work?
Linnell: I’ve learned that bringing about the kind of change we are talking about is hard work. It takes a lot of effort and diligence to get it right. It’s hard to find all the things that are going to work for everybody.
I’ve also learned there are so many assets we have that we can draw upon. People are willing to give their time and effort, and even sometimes money, to support what we are doing. There are a lot of amazing people in the county who want to do the right thing.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to you/your organization?
Linnell: My hope for this work as it relates to me personally, is building on the strengths of our community and continuing to create spaces for people to be healthy. I live here and I want to have access to all the healthiest foods and have great places to go and be physically active too.
Professionally, I am excited to get to work with people who seek the same outcomes as I do, people who are dedicated to building and supporting healthy communities. I also hope that, as we achieve these outcomes, we can continue to build on what we have already accomplished. My hope is that this lasts a long time. There will never be a shortage of initiatives we want to work on as a community. I am uplifted by this work and the potential it has for change.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to changing population health in Tillamook County?
Linnell: Our community is dealing with a lot of really tough issues, with diabetes being one of them. As a chronic disease, diabetes takes a long time to develop. There are things we can do to reduce the risk for this. I just hope we can generate some creative solutions that are really going to work for us. We have a great opportunity to take what we understand about how different things within our community affect our health and come together to develop the solutions that will help improve this in our communities.
My role in the OSU Extension Service is to support the community. I get to be of service here and bring whatever resources I can. I love living here and I want to personally contribute to help make this a success.