Peru State College
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News Release
Peru State professor named Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute Scholar for work with CHANCE Initiative



Kyle Ryan
Kyle Ryan

(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College Associate Professor of Education Dr. Kyle Ryan has been named a Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute (GPPHLI) Scholar for 2013-14.

The Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute, part of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) College of Public Health, is a regional, year-long program designed to build and enhance the leadership skills of senior and emerging leaders in organizations whose primary mission is to improve the health and well-being of populations and communities.

As a scholar, Ryan will 1) enhance his leadership knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies in the public health workforce, 2) become a catalyst for better community networks and public health systems, 3) stimulate and support further development of additional leaders within the public health community, and 4) build effective relationships and offer peer support to current and future public health professionals relationships.

Ryan said, “Being named a GPPHLI Scholar is an honor and I hope to represent both Peru State College and the Southeast Public Health Department in a positive light. Not only will I have the opportunity to enhance my own leadership training and ability, but I will be paired with a mentor that serves in a position I aspire to hold someday. My acceptance into the Institute, in all honesty, says more about the reputation of Peru State College and student involvement in the surrounding community than it does my own credentials and accomplishments.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Todd Drew said, “I'm very pleased Dr. Ryan was selected for this opportunity. His creative contributions to the college and community, particularly in the area of advanced service learning programming, have been outstanding. I can’t wait to see what new ideas will be generated from this experience!”

Ryan, who came to Peru State in 2009, serves as the college’s coordinator for UNMC’s Public Health Early Admissions Student Track (PHEAST) program and co-director of the Children’s Health, Activity & Nutrition Community Engagement (CHANCE) Initiative with Associate Professor of Business Dr. Sheri Grotrian-Ryan.

PHEAST is a cooperative program between the Nebraska State College System, UNMC’s College of Public Health and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Its purpose is to create a pipeline and cadre of public health professionals who will practice in Nebraska. Once admitted, PHEAST students can select one of 10 concentrations, including biostatistics, community oriented primary care, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology or public health administration.

The CHANCE Initiative is a grant-funded partnership between Peru State, Auburn Public Schools, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and Auburn Family Health Center, P.C. The longitudinal service learning study seeks to provide nutrition education and extracurricular activities for elementary-aged children in an effort to address pediatric rural obesity. The goal is to encourage healthier lifestyles among area children and their families by creating awareness and educating them about better choices.

The CHANCE Initiative has been funded by Youth Serve America, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Nebraska, and the Rural Futures Institute to further solidify the pre-existing partnerships between the campus and community. Most recently, the Initiative was honored by the Nebraska Campus Compact with the organization’s Outstanding Community and Campus Collaboration Award and by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce with its 2013 Youth Development Award.

Ryan is lead faculty for the sport and exercise science curriculum at Peru State and was awarded the 2012-13 Health Educator of the Year award for the State on Nebraska by the Nebraska Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He serves as chair of the advisory committee for Nebraska Campus Compact, an entity committed to providing meaningful experience for students to become active, engaged leaders in their communities, furthering the civic and public purpose of higher education and strengthening communities. Ryan also serves on the advisory group for Partners N’ Health, a group tasked with formalizing stakeholder involvement, communication, and shared planning to develop, implement, and evaluate the Nebraska Physical Activity and Nutrition State Plan.

Ryan is a graduate of Humboldt State University (HSU), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in kinesiology. He earned a Ph.D. in sport and exercise science with a minor in statistical research methods from the University of Northern Colorado. Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Ryan served as assistant strength coach at HSU while completing his master’s degree and was named the University of Northern Colorado’s first strength and conditioning coach while pursuing his Ph.D. He was also the first strength and conditioning coach in the history of Peru State College.  

Ryan coached the University of Northern Colorado to the Rugby National Championship in 2003 and served as strength and conditioning consultant for USA Rugby from 2000 to 2004. After earning his Ph.D., Ryan served as a faculty member in the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan and in the College of Health at the University of Utah.

Ryan’s current research interests include neuromechanics, community-based participatory research with regard to obesity intervention and prevention, and the effectiveness of academic service learning.