VISTA Center supports Lincoln Health Foundation mission

Dec 8, 2020 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Innovation, Liberal Arts

During the 2019-20 academic year, the Lincoln Health Foundation awarded a grant to Louisiana Tech’s VISTA Center to create materials promoting healthy diet and exercise. The materials were designed specifically for the Health Hut, a free clinic for citizens of Lincoln Parish. 

Ruston park mapThe VISTA Center offers students the opportunity to blend their passion and talent for science and art to create impactful visuals that communicate critical information about medicine, health, and scientific research. 

A team of art and nutrition students worked with Dr. Jackie White, Director of the Health Hut, and her team of dietitians and nurse practitioners to ensure that the materials generated were relevant and would be used by the patients who visit the Health Hut.

“This team determined there were two critical areas that needed to be addressed by this project – increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating,” said Nick Bustamante, Professor of Studio Art and Director of the VISTA Center. “To achieve these goals, the team of students set out to create a map of the parish highlighting parks where individuals and families could get out and be active, as well as a cookbook that provided healthy recipes that are also easy and cost effective.”

The collaboration with VISTA has greatly benefited the Health Hut clients, White said. Each piece of information helps those individuals live more healthy lives.

“Our patients appreciate the projects the students have displayed at the clinic to provide education for them,” White said. “They loved to give feedback on them, and the students have gained knowledge from the public about what speaks to them personally in their material. This latest one – the map of Ruston Parks – can be used by our entire city, as it shows all the different options of outdoor activity and walking trails.”

The map team worked to create a pocket-sized map of the parish that notes where parish parks are located. In addition, the map includes a key indicating the amenities offered at each park and a brief description so that people know what is available to them as they look for outdoor activities in their neighborhood. The map team included Biology major Shiloh Bott, Graphic Design major Gracie George, and Graphic Design and Studio Art major Will Useman. Bott is pursuing a minor in Pre-Medical Illustration.

The cookbook created recipes that use easily available and affordable ingredients to feed a family and leave leftovers to ease the burden that can come with cooking a fresh meal every night. Knowing that many working parents rely on fast food for convenience, the team also researched fast food choices in the parish and created a list of healthier recommendations. The cookbook team included Graphic Design major Brittany Alford, Studio Art major Jacob Broussard, Nutrition and Dietetics major Kaylan Herbert, and Tod Cecil, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Lincoln Health Foundation’s partnership with VISTA helps the Foundation accomplish its mission of improving health care and access to residents of Lincoln Parish, according to Foundation CEO Norman Hanes. 

“The Foundation’s overall presence and effectiveness in our parish has been advanced by involving VISTA program students and faculty directly in specific health care initiatives funded by the Foundation,” Hanes said. “This involvement has not only increased student and faculty awareness of the health priorities the Foundation seeks to address, but it has also provided a way for them to engage with Foundation grantees and become personally involved in the development of resources that improve the health of the residents in our parish.”

“The VISTA Center continues to work with the Lincoln Health Foundation and the Health Hut to provide resources that enhance the communication of medical information and improve the overall health of the community,” said Dr. Jamie Newman, Biology Professor and VISTA Co-director. “The Center allows students to pair art and science and positively impact the world around them.”

For more information on the VISTA Center and its two academic minors, visit For students interested in becoming a part of the VISTA Center, there is a come-and-go recruiting event at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11 in University Hall. For more information on that event contact Bustamante at