In 2012, Klamath County leaders rallied to address the effects of decades of economic stagnation brought on by the decline of the timber industry.

They formed the Healthy Klamath coalition and made strides in boosting graduation rates, reducing crime, increasing access to fresh produce and creating a stronger network of social, behavioral and physical health care services.

Now Klamath County has gained national recognition, becoming one of four winners of the 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The county was chosen from among 200 applicant communities across the U.S.

“I know how diligently Klamath County has been working to improve the health of its residents, and this much-deserved prize is the result of a collaborative, community-wide effort,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement. “This prestigious award will allow the Healthy Klamath partnership to continue its impressive work providing resources and opportunity for everyone in Klamath to live their healthiest lives. Well done, to everyone involved in the Healthy Klamath effort.”

The county will receive a $25,000 prize. The other winning communities are Cicero, Illinois; Eatonville, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas.

Klamath County will hold a community celebration later this year and will join the other prize-winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event at the foundation’s headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey, in October.

While Oregon’s ranking declined in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index earlier this year, Klamath Falls bucked the trend and retained a flat well-being score, thanks to all the community investments. According to that index, community pride rose by 3 percentage points, smoking rates dropped by 2.2 percentage points and the number of people who exercise frequently rose by 2.6 percentage points.