I had never been to Wausau until a job interview brought me here. I remember driving over from La Crosse and being surprised to find such a hub of activity. It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Fast forward three years to today, and my experiences have taught me that Wausau is a growing, collaborative community with amazing opportunity for those looking to be involved.

I am a Public Health Educator for the Marathon County Health Department. I’m not sure if a lot of people know about all of the programs the health department focuses on here, but I’m involved with a pretty special one. As part of an eight year grant, I’m coordinating a project that is improving behavioral health for Marathon County students. This project focuses specifically on student mental health by sending therapists into local public schools to offer therapy to kids who need it. What is so special about it is that in addition to providing mental health services to students, over 25 organizations have come together to work on this project. From school districts and mental health clinics, to therapists and other community organizations including the United Way, hundreds of people are collaborating to ensure all students in Marathon County public schools have access to mental health services.

What is unique about this area is that the community readiness level for a program like this was very high. In public health, you rarely get to see the fruits of your labor because you are often addressing decade-long issues. But with this particular project, and because of the support of the community and people involved, we started seeing results quickly. Overwhelmingly, kids receiving therapy during their school day are saying their life is better now than before they started counseling, and that they are often feeling much better about themselves. If it wasn’t for the community readiness and collaborative nature of this area, we wouldn’t be able to have this type of impact so quickly. It says a lot about this area and the people of Wausau.

Outside of my job, I love Wausau for the opportunities it presents to me. For a city this size, there are so many events that happen here. It feels like there is a farmer’s market available every single day during the spring, summer and fall. I love to kayak on the Wisconsin River. I also enjoy visiting the numerous hidden beaches. And while the community is definitely growing, everything is still so accessible. I love that I can get anywhere in 10 minutes. When you look at the River District and downtown riverfront, it’s hard to not get excited to see that development process and enjoy those amenities.

Wausau is growing and evolving in such positive ways. I find myself wanting to be a part of that growth. I’m invested in this community and want to see it continue to prosper and succeed.