With cases in La Crosse County, health experts waiting for signs of community spread


This shows the exponential growth of the disease if life continued as usual. But if we limit the contacts we have with others, the number of cases goes down significantly and happens over a longer period of time so as to not overwhelm healthcare providers.

“Not knowing how many people are potentially infectious at this particular point in time, raises some concerns,” said Dan Duquette, professor of Health Education & Health Promotion at UW-La Crosse. 

You might have heard experts talk about flattening the curve or seen this graphic, which shows how fast the disease could spread without intervention.  Social isolation drastically slows the number of cases, but it might not get rid of it.  “But at least it becomes very, very negligible in populations,” Duquette said.

“It becomes really important in controlling communicable, infectious diseases to be able to trace the contacts people have had,” Duquette said.

Duquette said this still can be done, like with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But, limited resources at the local level could be spread thin if the cases of the new coronavirus increase rapidly through community spread, so we all have to follow the guidelines.  “If we follow those recommendations, social distancing and [good] hand hygiene, we can deal with the disease,” Duquette said.

Environmental Health course at UWL learning from COVID-19

Dr. Dan Duquette's PH 335 Environmental Health class at UW La Crosse

COVID-19, alongside other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS are a hot topic right now in UWL's Environmental Health course.

The class, taught by Dr. Dan Duquette, focuses on real-life examples of the viral interaction between people, the environment and animals. 

Students at UW-La Crosse study the origins of the Coronavirus and its threat

Students at UW La Crosse in Dr. Dan Duquette's PH 335 Environmental Health class were busy studying about the coronavirus Tuesday as part of their environmental health class.

HEHP PH~CHE Fall 2019 Preceptorship Graduates

Due to COVID-19, our physical office is closed. However, all classes will be held online and instructors and staff are working remotely. We recommend email or Canvas to reach instructors and email or phone for departmental business.

Visit the University's COVID-19 Response page

Welcome to the Public Health and Community Health Education Major

Funding for the video was provided in part by Scenic Rivers Area Health Education Center in association with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.


Healthier people participating, learning, and living in healthier communities.


To prepare leaders in school and community health through the bridging of competency and standard-based education, scholarship, advocacy, and service-related endeavors, thereby contributing to healthier people and healthier communities.

To pursue this mission, we (department faculty, staff, students, and others) collaborate to:

  • Advocate for the advancement of the profession.
  • Provide the highest quality of professional preparation.
  • Prepare students, professionals, and academic programs for credentialing processes.
  • Provide innovative professional development opportunities.
  • Offer authentic life-enhancing service-learning opportunities.
  • Strengthen health-related community capacity through collaboration and service within our world.
  • Aim to cultivate motivated, self-directed, continuous life-long learners.


  1. To prepare Public Health and Community Health Educators through the necessary coursework in entry-level public health core areas and health education competencies.
  2. To prepare Public Health and Community Health Educators who will work with a variety of population demographics, settings, and cultural perspectives within the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention domains of health education and health promotion.
  3. To engage Public Health and Community Health Education majors in Preceptorship experiences which enable candidates to become more competent within the seven entry-level Areas of Responsibility.

BS-PH CHE Objectives:

By the end the BS-PH CHE program, at the entry level, candidates will have experience in all core competence for public health professionals

The BS-PH CHE program is the only one of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System. The Seven Areas of Responsibility for a Public Health and Community Health Educator are emphasized in the courses.

Seven Areas of Responsibility:

  1. Assess
  2. Plan
  3. Implement
  4. Evaluate
  5. Administer
  6. Serve
  7. Advocate

The Public Health and Community Health Education Program prepares students for careers in:

  • private health agencies and insurance companies
  • hospitals and health clinics
  • both governmental and non-governmental health agencies
  • not-for profit, for profit, and voluntary organizations
  • schools, universities and many other community-based agencies 
  • business and industry

Courses emphasize administrative issues, health promotion skill-building, program planning, implementation and evaluation, motivational interviewing, grant writing and marketing strategies. Students learn how to prepare written materials as well as electronic media presentations for mass audiences. Upon graduation, students can take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination. Course work included in the program includes epidemiology, biometrics, environmental health, grant writing, mental and emotional health, sexual health promotion, nutrition education, motivational interviewing and theories of health behavior.

For information about the Public Health and Community Health Education (PH CHE) program, please contact:

Keely S. Rees, Ph.D., MCHES
Program Director, Undergraduate Public Health and Community Health Education Program
217 Mitchell Hall

"Community health is almost anything that involves making people’s lives better." -CHE student

"One of the best things I feel this program offers is the opportunity to learn about such a broad base of health issues and to work with literally every demographic of people out there." -CHE student

SOPHE Advocacy WashDC 2017 pic 4.jpg

What is Public Health and Community Health Education (PH CHE)

Health education is a social science which draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability and premature death by educating individuals and communities to voluntarily change their behaviors to improve their health and well-being. Health education is the development of individual, group, institutional, community and systemic strategies to improve health knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior. The purpose of Health education is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities, as well as the living and working conditions which influence their health. 

Health education improves the health status of individuals, families, communities, states, and the nation. Health education enhances the quality of life for all people and reduces premature deaths. By focusing on prevention, health education reduces the costs (both financial and human) individuals, employers, families, insurance companies, medical facilities, communities, the state and the nation would spend on medical treatment.

Where are Health Educators Employed?

Health educators work in schools, hospitals or clinics, with community organizations, non-profit agencies, with companies or with governmental agencies. Health educators work to promote better overall health on individual, community and policy levels. This is done by writing grants, researching, identifying resources, assessing individual and community needs, planning, implementing, and managing education programs. 


Accreditation Reports: During 2014, both the BS-PH CHE and the MPH programs were nationally re-accredited through the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) for the full seven-year period until December 31, 2021.  The final Self-Study document and the final Accreditation Report are available upon request by contacting The Department of Health Education and Health Promotion.

For more information on the CEPH accreditation please visit the Council on Education for Public Health website. 

Where can I find more information about a career in Public Health and Community Health Education? expanding section

1. Keely Rees, Ph.D., CHES  
Director, Undergraduate Public Health and Community Health Education
Dept. of Health Education and Health Promotion
217 Mitchell Hall
La Crosse, WI 54601

2. PH CHE Faculty

  • Dr. Anders Cedergren
  • Dr. Dan Duquette
  • Dr. Gary Gilmore
  • Dr. Robert Jecklin
  • Dr. Michele Pettit
  • Dr. Keely Rees
  • Dr. Karen Skemp
  • Katie Wagoner, MPH
  • Dr. Emily Whitney

3. National professional websites:

  1. National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. 
  2. Society for Public Health Education
  3. American Public Health Association
How do I get an academic advisor? expanding section

Once you declare Public Health and Community Health Education as your major in Guy Herling’s office, you are then assigned to a PH CHE Faculty member for your academic advising.

What if I do not have a specific passion or target population I want to work with? expanding section

That is perfectly fine. Your coursework, volunteer or service learning projects often stimulate ideas or areas of interest which lead to a passion.

Do Public Health and Community Health Educators actually educate or just arrange for others qualified in specific areas to educate populations? expanding section

Both. We often find the resources, experts, or facilitators for a specific health issue or topic, or we often need to act as the resource and become prepared to facilitate or teach in that specified area.

Where can Public Health and Community Health Educators work other than health departments? expanding section
  • Corporations (Worksite Wellness, Employee Health)
  • Health Care/Hospital and Clinic Settings
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • School Districts
  • County or State Health Agencies
What are the benefits of a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification? expanding section
  1. Encourages networking with other health education professionals
  2. Improves professional practice through continuing education
  3. Provides a quantifiable measure of quality assurance
  4. Recognized and desired by employers
  5. The CHES is valued, validated, and accredited

For more information check out the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing


Information current students want other students to know:

  • The other people in community health are a lot like me. Just because we talk about optimal health practices does not mean we can not hangout socially in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • There are graduate students in our classes. This is a great time to hear about projects they are working on, hear about what it is like to be a health educator in our community, and to see what lies ahead if we choose to get a master’s degree.
  • The professors in our major are very knowledgeable and recognized within community health with diverse work backgrounds.

National Professional Organizations: 

Scholarship Resources:

  • Students interested in the PH-CHE program at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse can find more information regarding financial aid, application and deadlines on the UWL Office for Financial Aid page under one of the three undergraduate tabs on the left hand side of the page.
  • For help with external undergraduate scholarship opportunities, please visit the UWL Scholarship Resource Center and click on their Outside Scholarship Database link, or set up an appointment with one of their staff for more assistance.  The site will require you to log in with your UWL Office 365 Net ID. Check out the UWL Scholarship Resource Center's Scholarship FAQ for additional helpful information.
  • Students interested in the PH-CHE program can find out more information about internal scholarships and apply online at the UWL Foundation Scholarship.

Coulee Region and La Crosse Organizations:

Other Resources:

For more information on Public Health Community Health Education Major degree requirements and sample schedule please visit the UWL Records and Registration Undergraduate Catalog site.  

Download the Advisement Checklist: 

PH-CHE Advising New Program.pdf