Two years ago, all that Little Falls High School students Rochelle Olson and Christy Trettel knew about the dangers of methamphetamine was learned in a one-hour presentation in their health class.
Olson and Trettel wanted to change that.
During their junior year in 2006 they joined the Morrison County Meth Task Force. They started small, handing out Initiative Foundation IQ magazines covering meth, putting up posters and visiting different schools in the Little Falls area.
Their work culminated in a meth awareness week that included radio shows, interactive forums, school promotions and teachers modifying classes to cover the meth epidemic from all angles. They also helped with events for Recovery Month in September, including a movie night about meth awareness, art work from recovering addicts, an essay contest and a picnic.
Christy Trettel (right) and Rochelle Olson, seniors at Little Falls Community High School, are being honored by the Initiative Foundation as outstanding youth volunteers for their work with the Morrison County Meth Task Force, which included organizing several meth awareness events at the high school. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
As seniors in 2007, they are being honored by the Initiative Foundation and Minnesota Power as outstanding youth volunteers. They will be recognized at the Initiative Awards banquet Friday at Madden's Resort on Gull Lake.
"I was not expecting it. We hadn't even heard of the award and we thought it would be a little plaque or something. We had no idea of the extent" of the award, Olson said. "I'm very honored."
"It's really amazing," Trettel said. "It's really nice to know we're not only being recognized, but also that our efforts are worthwhile."
LeeAnn Sampson, Morrison County community health educator, said Olson and Trettel are exceptional students and their dedication and involvement with the Morrison County Meth Task Force was appreciated.
"We've been so happy to have them," Sampson said. "I think it's neat when you have two students willing to say, 'Hey, we're going to commit our time to come to monthly meetings, take on other projects in addition to what we're already doing.' It shows they care, that they genuinely don't want people to use meth."
Olson's and Trettel's interest in meth prevention was started by Trettel's older sister, who in 2005 started a meth awareness campaign for Distributive Education Clubs of America, a business and marketing club for students. Olson and Trettel took Amy Trettel's idea and expanded it.
Trettel said that in school students were taught about drugs and alcohol, but never meth. Both she and Olson said they didn't realize how dangerous the drug was.
More this week
The Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation is recognizing a variety of outstanding contributions to lakes area communities in an awards banquet Friday at Madden's resort near Brainerd.
Friday: Outstanding Volunteer, given posthumously to Mark Wood of Little Falls for his volunteer efforts for current and future generations.
"We realized we had to get the information out there," Trettel said. "We knew we could make a difference."
It took a while to get their fellow students' attention, but over time their efforts paid off.
"As the year went on we didn't give up on it, we kept doing more. We were really passionate about it," Olson said. "The more we did and the more people could see we were really interested, the more people started paying attention."
Said Trettel: "We didn't know what to expect, if it was worthwhile, if anyone would pay attention to us or take us seriously. It turned out well. Everyone was appreciative of us."
Olson's and Trettel's work will continue with Trettel's younger sister, who is a sophomore and plans to make meth awareness her DECA campaign.
Trettel and Olson hope to carry on their work after they graduate from high school in the spring.
"Whatever I can do, even with just the information we have now, I can inform people," Olson said. "I'd really like to do whatever I can."
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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