Nora Dwyer will lead wellness effort in Muscatine County


A long-time Muscatine resident and advocate for health and wellness has been hired to coordinate the Muscatine County activities related to an Iowa State University grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded to the county earlier this year.

Nora Dwyer is the new program assistant for LEAP (Leveraging Activities and Partnerships to Address Obesity). Initiated in 2023, the program is within the first year of a five-year renewable grant from the CDC High Obesity Program (HOP). HOP funds universities working with local cooperative extension services in mostly rural counties where 40% or more of adults are obese.

According to local county data, 43% of Muscatine County adults are dealing with obesity. Iowa State University is implementing CDC's HOP program in Muscatine County, along with 5 other counties (Franklin, Cedar, Clinton, West Pottawattamie and Crawford). The HOP funding will allow Muscatine County Extension to address health disparities related to poor nutrition, physical activity, and obesity.

The HOP program will implement proven public health strategies for:

•Food and nutrition security -- promoting food service and nutrition guidelines and expanding fruit and vegetable voucher incentive and produce prescription programs.

• Safe and accessible physical activity -- connecting transportation networks to everyday destinations.

To date, a county coalition has been formed with representatives of various organizations, county and city departments and businesses which have a stake in these areas.

Dwyer will be responsible the various aspects of the Iowa LEAP project. She will work with local community members to build coalition capacity and sustainability; coordinate networking meetings for county stakeholders, execute and lead county coalition meetings, and assist with county assessment activities led by state and program specialists; support project planning, implementation, evaluation, and reporting to state LEAP team.

Dwyer has been involved in a number of health and wellness activities throughout her career, most recently managing the Muscatine Center for Social Action food pantry in 2020 and has been a licensed massage therapist and physical therapist assistant, along with having an interest in food, nutrition and food insecurity.

Approaching this project she says, "I'm excited about how this program intersects with a lot of my previous experiences and I'looking forward to being a bridge between our local coalition and all the resources offered by Iowa State University to support this effort to improve the health of our county residents."

Additional information about the project is available by contacting Dwyer or Heidi Hoffman with the Muscatine County Extension office, at 563-263-5701. Email: or for more information about how to become involved with this important program.