The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks counties for health factors and outcomes. Where do they find the healthiest living in South Dakota?

  1. Hutchinson
  2. Brookings
  3. Lincoln
  4. Hamlin
  5. Bon Homme
  6. Clay
  7. Edmunds
  8. Hughes
  9. Day
  10. Codington

And where will you find the most coughing and wheezing and aches and pains?

  1. Hanson
  2. Fall River
  3. Mellette
  4. Bennett
  5. Jackson
  6. Dewey
  7. Corson
  8. Todd
  9. Shannon
  10. Buffalo

Yes, the report is missing nine counties; the methodology doesn't say why.

The health care outcomes are calculated on length of life and quality of life. Where are South Dakotans living the longest?

  1. Lincoln
  2. Bon Homme
  3. Union
  4. Brookings
  5. Moody
  6. Hamlin
  7. Clay
  8. Edmunds
  9. Hutchinson
  10. Lawrence

And where are the enjoying the best quality of life?

  1. Hutchinson
  2. Brookings
  3. Hamlin
  4. Lincoln
  5. Hughes
  6. Charles Mix
  7. Clay
  8. Day
  9. Potter
  10. Lyman

There's a lot of data for local boosters and policymakers to sift through and perhaps identify factors their counties could investigate and work to improve. Consider this map of counties by quality of physical environment:

Healthy Physical Environment by county SD

This study folds five factors into "Physical environment": air pollution and particulate matter, drinking water violations, severe housing problems, driving alone to work, and long commutes. South Dakota's wide open spaces have a clear advantage over the urban/dairy madness of the I-29 corridor (particulate matter would include not just our tailpipes but the airborne fecal plumes from our East River dairies and hog lots). But on this scorecard and other rankings, we see more confirmation that Indian Country has unique challenges requiring our attention.

Dig into the data yourself, see what surprises you can find about your county, and then think about what changes could happen to make your county catch up with Freeman, Brookings, Beresford, and Castlewood!