Breeanne Agett is working toward a healthier Chautauqua County.
A Sherman High School graduate, Agett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and went on to earn her Master in Public Health degree in epidemiology from SUNY Albany in 2009.
“I was in a Microbiology class during my undergrad…and we were talking about the Spanish Influenza and epidemics and pandemics,” Agett said. “We started talking about the culture surrounding that and the health impact and how that ties back into science. It involved science, health and community, three things I was really interested in.”
After graduating, she returned to Chautauqua County and accepted the position of sanitarian trainee with the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. Two years later, she earned a promotion to junior planner.
“A lot of my job revolves around assessing the health of the community (through data and research) and working with our community partners, hospitals, the rural health network, and others, to develop a health improvement plan,” Agett said.
According to the most recent data collected, priority areas of the upcoming community health assessment will focus on chronic disease prevention, healthy women, infants and children, promoting mental health, and preventing substance abuse.
In addition to the community health assessment, Agett also works closely with the ICE 8 initiative, which aims to improve the health and well-being of students via a coordinated school health partnership.
Although she initially returned to the area to be closer to her family, Agett’s community involvement has led her to find new reasons to stay and raise her family.
“There is such a great energy in Chautauqua County, Agett said. “There are so many good people here who want to see a positive change in our area.”
Currently, Agett serves on the Board of Directors at Chautauqua Rails to Trails and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, and is a member of the Chautauqua Leadership Network Class of 2016 and Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
“My involvement with Rails to Trails started with me being on a committee,” Agett said. “It was something happening in the community where I grew up and I lived and I wanted to be a part of it.”
In addition to getting involved, Agett advises students, and recent graduates, who may be interested in a career in public health to diversify their studies, and experiences.
“Public health is all about seeing your world through a different lens,” she said. “Everything around you impacts the decisions that you make and the more you are able to surround yourself with, the more knowledge you have to make a change.”
This feature is part of a series focusing on residents who have received scholarships from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and have moved back to or remained in, the area to live and work. If you, or someone you know, received a scholarship from the Community Foundation and would like to be featured, contact Sarah Shelters at 661-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2016-17 school year. To qualify, students must have graduated from a Chautauqua County high school. Scholarships are offered to undergraduate and graduate students studying a variety of subjects and vocations at two-year or four-year colleges or universities.