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UNI Employee Well-being | Social and Community Well-being


Social and Community well-being involves having positive interactions with others and focuses on the interdependence of people in a community. UNI employees are invited to utilize the following resources and tools to enhance social and community well-being.

Walking and Running Groups

Creating social circles that support healthy behaviors is one platform of the Blue Zones Project™ that helps people live longer, better. In Okinawa, Japan, which is one of the original Blue Zones areas, the people create “moai” groups of five friends that commit to each other for life. UNI Employee Well-being is assisting to establish running and walking “moai” groups among UNI employees that will provide the opportunity to exercise while building unique relationships.

UNI Faculty and Staff Team Running (FASTR) is a group established to build relationships among faculty and staff who enjoy running, while also promoting the University of Northern Iowa by participating in local races. UNI FASTR is not a competitive group, and it includes runners of all speed levels. If you would like to learn more about this running group, please visit the UNI FASTR web page by using your UNI email account or email Richard Featherstone at

UNI Employee Well-being has developed a walking group with the similar goal of building relationships among UNI employees who enjoy walking. If you would like to join an employee walking group, please contact to be put in touch with a group. Employees are encouraged to utilize UNI's campus trails as well as the local trail system for group walks.

If you have further questions about UNI employee walking or running “moai” groups on campus, please contact


Gardening has been shown to positively affect a person’s wellness. Gardening is good exercise, it gets you outside in the fresh air moving your body. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks that require strength or stretching are excellent forms of low-impact exercise. On top of the physical benefits, gardening has also been shown to improve your mental health and help relieve stress. It can also your improve your nutrition because food you grow yourself is the freshest you can eat. For more information on how to start a garden, or to sign up for gardening classes visit the Well-being Garden Page.

Service Opportunity Spotlight

If your organization would like help communicating your service project or event to UNI employees, please utilize the Service Opportunity Spotlight Form to create an Employee Well-being News Communication Request. We look forward to sharing your service opportunities with UNI employees.

Employee Awards and Recognition

Recognition of employees’ years of service and accomplishments are part of the University of Northern Iowa’s history and culture. Learn more about Employee Recognition Programs and Faculty and Staff Accolades:

Community Outreach Resources

The Blue Zones Project™ shares that donating your time and expertise to a worthy cause is one way to lead a more meaningful life. Giving back to your community by volunteering allows you to feel more connected to others and reinforces your sense of life purpose. Knowing your sense of purpose in life could give you up to seven years of extra life expectancy. In addition to the social and emotional benefits of volunteering, studies show there are significant health benefits associated with service. Lower rates of cancer and heart disease as well as reduced healthcare costs have been noted among people who volunteer on a regular basis.  

Numerous local volunteer opportunities are available to UNI employees:

  • The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley serves as a resource and coordination center for volunteers and community partnerships.
  • The city of Cedar Falls lists volunteer opportunities for local residents.
  • Volunteer Iowa: A Call to Service is utilizing the “What’s Your 50?” campaign to challenge Iowa citizens to increase their service activities to 50 hours per year.  Interested volunteers can create a profile through Volunteer Iowa in order to match their skills with volunteer opportunities in their local area.  

Service Organizations Available on UNI’s Campus

Learn more about the service organizations available on UNI’s campus by reading the description below or by visiting the UNI Student Involvement Center webpage.  

Autism Advocates: Promotes awareness of autism on the UNI campus through philanthropy, fundraising, and education.

Best Buddies: Enhances the lives of people with developmental disabilities through one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.

Cedar Valley Support A Student: Raises funds to support furthering the education of students through scholarship. The students selected for scholarships will have attended Waterloo East High School.

Culture and Intensive English Program Conversation Partner Program: Pairs American faculty, staff, and students at UNI with students in the CIEP.  Partners meet a minimum of one hour each week throughout the academic year to speak English and help the CIEP student improve their English in a conversational setting.

Colleges Against Cancer: A nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by initiating and supporting programs of the American Cancer Society in college communities.

Green Project UNI – The Panther Plot: This interdisciplinary student organization focuses on local food and the creation of an on-campus student vegetable garden. Students plant and maintain the Panther Plot, which is a sustainable, on-campus vegetable garden.

Nonprofit Leadership Alliance: Provides networking opportunities with local and national nonprofit agency professionals. This is a professional development and service organization for undergraduate and graduate students who seek a career in the nonprofit or human service sector.

Northern Iowa Wishmakers: Promotes fundraising and volunteerism for the Cedar Valley chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Panther Leadership Service Club: Instills in its members the qualities of leadership and a connection with the community through organizing and planning fundraising events. The money or goods raised through their efforts will be donated to area charities.

Relay for Life Committee: Plans and participates in the Relay For Life of UNI, a 12 hour overnight walk in the UNI McLeod Center to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

To Write Love On Her Arms UNI: The purpose of this group is to be dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people suffering with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

UNI 4 Kids: Raises money to provide need-based scholarships to enrich the lives of underserved Cedar Valley youth through enabling their involvement in various athletic and extracurricular activities they otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in due to financial limitations.

UNI Advocates for Alzheimer’s: Supports the Alzheimer's Association East Central Iowa Chapter by raising awareness for Alzheimer's disease on campus. The primary focus is to plan and implement a large event called QUASH or Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's Scavenger Hunt on the UNI campus, and raise awareness and funds for the cause.

UNI Dance Marathon: Raises funds and donates 100 percent of the net profits to The Children's Miracle Network, which utilizes the funds to make the stays of children battling cancer and other diseases at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital more comfortable.

UNI Habitat for Humanity: Helps to create adequate housing for people involved in the Habitat for Humanity program in Black Hawk through the house building process, fundraisers, and social events.  

UNI Panthers Allied with Local Schools: Provides support and encouragement for UNI students participating in the TeamMates mentoring program in addition to actively recruiting more qualified mentors to join the program. Mentors will work with students from 1st to 8th grade in the Waterloo School District.

University of Northern Iowa March of Dimes: Spreads awareness and raises funds to aid the March of Dimes in their mission to promote healthy babies.

Diversity Inclusion: NCBI- UNI Campus Coalition Builders

The NCBI- UNI Campus Coalition Builders includes volunteer faculty, staff and students from UNI who have earned certification with the National Coalition Building Institute ( The Campus Coalition Builders have a commitment to building a campus community to which everyone wants to belong. UNI employees may learn more about opportunities to register for a diversity workshop through the Campus Coalition Builders.

The Campus Coalition Builders initiative is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Vice President of Student Affairs, the Vice President for Administration and Financial Services, and the Northern Iowa Student Government.

Connect with other employees at a Blue Zones Dining Location on UNI’s Campus  

UNI Department of Residence has three major dining venues designated as Blue Zones Restaurants. UNI dining venues have offered different portion sizes, adjusted menu options and expanded flavoring choices to meet the Blue Zones guidelines. Enjoy eating with employees at a Blue Zones designated dining venue that makes the healthy choices easier:  

  • Piazza dining center in Redeker Center
  • Rialto dining center in Towers Center
  • Prexy's food court in Maucker Union