Rylee Wagner, West Central Public Health Partnership

Rylee joined Immunize Colorado as an Immunization Outreach and Education Coordinator through the AmeriCorps VISTA program in August, 2020. She is working with the West Central Public Health Partnership, a collaboration of six rural counties in the Western Slope of Colorado with the purpose of strengthening the region's public health infrastructure. Rylee graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biomedical Science and a minor in Public Health. She has professional aspirations to attend Medical School after completing her AmeriCorps service.

Rylee became a VISTA after being evacuated from Madagascar as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the early termination of her Peace Corps term as a Community Health Advisor. In the Alaotra-Mangoro region of Madagascar, Rylee worked closely with local health professionals at a clinic as a health educator covering topics such as nutrition, sanitation, malaria, and immunizations. It was during her service abroad where she learned firsthand the unique struggles that rural communities globally have with issues such as health access and education as well as the importance of preventative medicine and practices. She chose to continue this public health focus here in the United States with Immunize Colorado so that she may become a better-rounded healthcare provider in the future.

Rylee is passionate about working with children and has years of experience as a volunteer counselor with Camp Boggy Creek, a pediatric medical camp located in Eustis, FL for children with serious illnesses as part of the SeriousFun Children’s Network. She hopes to expand her experiences to include Roundup River Ranch, the Colorado branch of the Network. When she is not working or volunteering, Rylee loves to travel and explore the outdoors and is excited to take advantage of all of the new opportunities Colorado has to offer.

Favorite Movie/Book: All of Harry Potter but The Order of the Phoenix is the best one, no contest (movies and books); Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (book)

Personal Hero: My counterpart from my Peace Corps service in Madagascar, Veronique. Veronique is a midwife at the Ambatosoratra clinic near where I lived. She is a powerful and respected woman committed to supporting the health of those in her community and became one of my closest friends and biggest supporters.

Hometown Fun Fact: DeBary is a small town near Orlando, Florida which is arguably the #1 U.S. travel destination with upwards of 75 million visitors a year. But this part of Florida has a lot more to offer than just Mickey Mouse and beaches. I grew up right next to the largest natural spring in Florida, Blue Springs in Orange City. The consistently warm water temperature (73°F) attracts Florida manatees every winter and in February 2020 a record 566 manatees visited the park in a single day!

Favorite Things to Do in Colorado: I just moved to Colorado but I am excited to try skiing this winter and to do a lot of biking and camping when weather permits.

Why Vaccinate: Vaccines are one of the most significant medical breakthroughs in history. The idea that such a small individual action can actually prevent a life-threatening illness and protect more than just oneself but whole communities is the epitome of the goal of public health.