ODP Blog

Grantee Spotlight: Kuna School District

Fentanyl & Illicit Drug Awareness Events

By Kim Bekkedahl, Assistant Superintendent, Kuna School District

Over two days, our secondary students, our community and a large group of treasure valley athletes heard a powerful message from former Drug Enforcement Agency officer Rocky Herron about helping our students choose their future. Rocky is a retired DEA agent with 31 years of experience and now takes that experience literally around the world as a drug prevention advocate and speaker. As a law enforcement officer, he has watched this crisis spiral to dangerous levels for a period of time now.

Rocky shared information about the challenges — social media pressure, high potency drugs, and easy access to drugs, that our youth face that are impacting their mental health and well-being.  Rocky had an emphasis on the Fentanyl Crisis because it is the biggest challenge facing the treasure valley right now, and unfortunately our kids will encounter this drug in several forms as they navigate through life.

Rocky was able to present at 4 all school assemblies to 7th – 12th in the Kuna Schools, and to our second (Connecting Together) parent and community event. Rocky and his daughter Roxie, A Nampa Police Officer presented to a full auditorium of treasure valley athletes at the NNU Brandt Center. This was a powerful event also as we know that our athletes face a unique challenge at times with pressure put on them from numerous sources and can be at risk for substance abuse just the same as everyone else.

With the support of our Superintendent’s Advisory Council and our amazing community partners, who understand the urgency, Sgt. Brian Keen and I were able get resources and a venue to help bring Rocky and his message to our kids and community (We were able to use statistics shared by Gov. Brad Little in his January 2023 State of the State speech helped us get a grant to cover some of the costs.)

What is next?

Our work has just begun. The council and subcommittee will continue to keep working on ways to get a prevention message out to our kids and community.

Thank you to the Idaho Office of Drug Policy for your commitment to the work we are doing.

2020 Sticker Shock Campaign


A youth-led initiative to change adult attitudes about selling and providing alcohol to minors launched on Black Friday, November 26th, at liquor stores across the state.

This public awareness campaign represents a continuing partnership between The Idaho Office of Drug Policy, the Idaho State Liquor Division, and 16 community prevention organizations to bring attention to the issue of underage drinking during the holiday season—when youth are more likely to get alcohol from adults they already know.

“We know that 43 percent of Idaho youth who drink underage usually obtain alcohol by someone giving it to them, including through adults 21 and older who can purchase it legally,” said Marianne King, Director of the Idaho Office of Drug Policy.

Students from local community and school-based leadership groups are working with participating ISLD stores to spread “Sticker Shock” waves across Idaho. Their goal: reach adults who might be willing to buy alcohol for— or make alcohol available to— youth under 21.

According to Director King, “This important campaign encourages Idaho adults to join us in keeping Idaho kids alcohol-free not only during the holiday season but year-round.”

Student volunteers will place eye-catching stickers on the bags that customers use to carry their purchases from liquor stores. The “Providing alcohol to minors under 21 is against the law.” stickers stand out on the store bags and provide a strong reminder to “Keep Idaho youth alcohol-free.”

The Liquor Stores in Idaho appreciate our partnership with the ODP on the sticker shock campaign,” said Jeff Anderson, Director of the Idaho State Liquor Division. “Our job is to responsibly offer spirits to Idahoans. Unfortunately, some think it’s okay to provide alcohol to people under 21. It’s not. Underage drinking doesn’t start with a drink, it starts with an excuse by adults. The excuse goes something like this: ‘we all did it when we were young’. That excuse can land you in jail and worse, it can affect a young person’s life forever.

Nampa Teen Council & Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council: Sticker Shock Campaign

During the month of November, the Idaho Office of Drug Policy, the Idaho State Liquor Division, the Canyon County Drug Free Coalition, and Southwest District Health partnered up to hold Stickering events with the Nampa Teen Council, and the Caldwell Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. Local law enforcement attended the events to present on underage drinking, and to answer questions from youth and other attendees. Mayor Debbie Kling, Mayor Garret Nancolas, representation from Community Coalitions of Idaho, and various community members were present to connect with youth and help sticker. Over 5,000 bags were stickered between the two events, which will be distributed to the liquor stores in Caldwell and Nampa. Youth asked thoughtful, provoking questions, and helped raise awareness about the risks associated with adults providing alcohol to minors, and the risks of underage drinking. The bags will be distributed in local liquor stores starting November 26th, and will be available until they run out.

In addition to stickered bags being available in liquor stores, three local coffee shops are helping spread awareness about this important campaign. The Human Bean locations in Caldwell and Nampa, the Flying M of Nampa, and Espresso-ly Yours will be using Be the Parents coffee sleeves and stickers starting November 26th until supplies run out. Together, youth and these community members are raising awareness, and supporting a safe holiday season for all in Canyon County!  


Tara Woodward, MPH | Program Planning and Development Specialist | Southwest District Health

Tara.Woodward@phd3.idaho.gov Caldwell,  ID 83607 


Students for Success Program: GONA

On August 3 & 4th at the Clearwater River Casino Event Center, the Students for Success Program held an event called “Gathering of Native Americans” or GONA for short, the first-ever held on the Nez Perce reservation.  A GONA is a culture-based planning process where community members gather to address community-identified issues.  The Students for Success youth GONA was for youth ages 12 to young adults, however, all community members were welcome to attend.   The GONA uses an interactive approach that empowers and supports American Indian/Alaskan Native tribes. The GONA approach reflects AI/AN cultural values, traditions, and spiritual practices.  The GONA typically focuses on the following four themes, “belonging”—the GONA ensures that everyone feels welcomed in an inclusive, open, safe, and trusting environment, “mastery”—the GONA allows participants to take stock of how historical trauma impacts their communities and what fosters their resilience and holds them together, “interdependence”—the GONA initiates the planning process to assess resources and relationships, and to experience and strengthen interconnectedness and “generosity”—the GONA exercise of creating gifts to share with other participants symbolizes each participant’s larger gift to their families and communities in helping to address and prevent mental and substance use disorders, prevent suicide, and promote mental health.  Some of the activities the youth completed are below:

Medicine Wheel Activity

Students were provided an overview of the 4 main dimensions of the medicine wheel.  This included why it is so important that they take care of themselves as these 4 dimensions describe.  Students were then asked to break into groups and conduct an inventory or identify what they do that contributes to their wellness within each of the 4 dimensions of the medicine Wheel (i.e., what do they currently do that improves their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness). After they were finished each group reported out and was validated by their peers.

Trauma Tree Exercise

In another activity, the youth answered these questions:

Roots=what happened historically that affects us as a community today?

Trunk=what did we lose or what was lost or taken away from us after these events occurred?

Branches=what do we see today in the community because of the events that occurred in the past?

The Healing Tree 

This activity was part of the interdependence section of the GONA.  The youth were asked to answer these questions and report their answers to their peers.

Roots = what are the strong Community, culture, spiritual, family, or individual values that we live by? I.e. honor, love, ceremonies, education, respect, etc.

Trunk=what do these values provide for us?

Branches=what do we hope to see truth in the community based on the positive values or what outcomes do we want to see in the community?

The GONA facilitators did an awesome job!  Their names are Gerry Crowshoe and Rebecca Lyn.  Both have facilitated many GONA’s and you could tell as the youth were really engaged the entire time.  In fact, most of the youth asked for more GONA’s, one even asked for us to do it once a month!

The NAHOVA (substance abuse and suicide prevention) youth board really went above and beyond for this great event.  Many of them have been an integral part of the planning of this event since last winter and each of them contributed a lot to the success of this event.  Preston Amerman and Graciela Broncheau did the welcome address, Joseph Payne, Sayaqic Broncheau and Ayanna Oatman led the icebreaker sessions and Markus Ellenwood and Remy Reeder were a big help with a little bit of everything!  All of the NAHOVA members, even the ones who were unable to attend, put a lot of hard work and hours, and commitment!

Contact: Abraham F. Broncheau, Nez Perce Tribe Students for Success Director, abeb@nezperce.org; (208) 621-4613

Lapwai, Idaho


Parent’s Corner: September 2021


In one of my favorite books, Love in the Time of Cholera, the main character pushes his plate away and says incredulously: “This meal has been prepared without love.” It is true sometimes we miss the secret ingredient most needed when creating a meal. We can best prepare meals with love when we give ourselves a break from cooking perfection.

So I encourage you to find ways to make cooking fun, whether creating a pizza kit to have your kids deliver dinner to you all by their little selves or simply learning how to build momentum by allowing yourself to make flawed meals your family will enjoy creating. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to give our family healthy and delicious meals each night. And, most meals cooked at home are more nutritious than any you buy in a restaurant. I have cooked for a living where all the finest ingredients go into making something special. The freshest organic products, hard to find and difficult to cultivate items, were prized. There is no doubt that high-quality items are essential. But let me put it to you straight–just getting dinner on the table is a victory.

So make it a game. Make it fun! Break it down into steps. And above all, let go of the idea that meals need to be perfect. Following a recipe can be constraining. Recipes are like training wheels. When you’re learning, they are great. But sometimes, you have to let go of the handlebars to test your abilities.

Remember, you have your senses for a reason. You have your eyes to see if the ingredients are visually pleasing. You have your mouth to taste as you cook. And what’s more, you have your children’s able hands to help.

The astonishing thing about cooking is how many separate tasks a cook needs to perform before getting their result, the ta-da on a plate. There is planning, shopping, prepping, and then cleaning up at the end.

Tricks for Fun and Success in the Kitchen

Use your senses. It is best if you don’t have any distractions—like the TV, phone, or computer– besides your kids and the food. That way, you can focus on your end goal.

  • Layer flavor. Add flavor throughout the cooking process. For example, salt the water if you are cooking pasta. Every chance you have to add flavor, do it.
  • Serve hot items hot and cold items cold. Lukewarm is precisely that.
  • Clean as you go. This is obvious, but it helps to keep you organized.
  • Shop one day, cook on another. Realistically you can’t stop after work and put together a meal without undue suffering. Shopping is a job on its own. Stock your kitchen with staples that are there for you when you need them. Buy your fresh produce and meat weekly.
  • Eat a mix of foods, you’ll get a better mix of nutrients.
  • Play CHOPPED. One of my favorite programs is Chopped. On Chopped, contestants have a limited amount of time and limited ingredients. Hey, just like real life. Suppose you have mozzarella cheese, spaghetti, chicken stock, basil, and corn. You could make pasta or a frittata!
  • Be prepared for failure or exhaustion. It is always handy to have a backup plan, so you don’t fall into the instant gratification trap or unhealthy snacking. Have a box of macaroni on hand, a bag of frozen peas, and a frozen pizza. Planning will save you from the fast-food panic.
  • Make a Pizza Kit. I love that pizza is a canvas waiting for a painter, a saucy painter, that is. It is hard to teach kids to cook because it isn’t one of the most straightforward tasks, even for those who have made dinners for decades. So I recommend this DIY pizza kit to let your kids engage in cooking and hopefully learn to love it!

 What is a Pizza Kit?

A pizza kit is a pizza round, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and topping of your choice. Set your kids up with an uncooked pizza round, let them paint away, and add the toppings they select. I always found my daughter was more willing to eat food she made, even if it wasn’t something she would usually like.

Dinner may not be perfect in the end, but your family will go to bed with vitamin L in their bellies. They will remember that when you cooked, and they helped, the food was made with love.

Grantee Spotlight: Community Youth in Action

Community Youth in Action (CYA) Idaho Falls embarked on an 11-day service trip from July 22- August 1, 2021. Some often ask why travel with all those teens and spend the time and money to do a trip like that when you can serve at home. We tell them if you could experience the growth and changes in the youth that we see, you would do the same. One participant whose family has had it tough with substance abuse issues expressed how he wants to live a better life than his family and wants to be able to travel, be successful, and be somebody, and that CYA is helping him to get to that point. There is something about building a lasting memory on a trip that cannot be duplicated at home, besides service is something we do together at home weekly so why not do it for others in their community and make a difference in the lives of people we do not know, all while gaining new lifelong memories and having a bunch of fun along the way.

In order to go on the trip, the teens started raising funds about 5 months prior by hosting a car wash, asking for sponsors, doing yard work and other paid tasks in the community, and some even paying out of their own pocket to fund the $600 each it would require to go. The team traveled in 3 RV’s and a shuttle vehicle with 21 teens, 5 children, and 9 adult chaperones on a 2,300-mile loop from Idaho Falls Idaho up interstate 15 to northern Idaho and then on to the Washington and Oregon Coast to Eugene, and Ontario and back through southern Idaho. The group stayed in all sorts of facilities from a church, a high-class summer camp, RV parks, a military base, a YMCA, a High school hallway, and a couple of luxury Hotels. Some of the teens had never been out of Idaho or on any type of extended road trip and expressed excitement over experiencing a lot of new things like seeing the ocean, staying in a nice hotel, being in extremely rural areas with zero cell phone reception, eating in fancy restaurants and some backcountry not so fancy ones, visiting an aquarium, engaging in a high ropes course, playing in a theme park, rafting on a river, and working on positive conflict resolution skills with their peers. These are things some people may take for granted but many who were on the trip expressed gratitude for the opportunity. They were able to find joy in the journey while working together to help serve others and managing their own personal struggles all at the same time.

Some of the service projects they participated in include clearing debris from trails or people’s homes to help with fire danger, clearing unwanted prickly wild blackberry bushes, sorting donated items at a local charity, cleaning and cleaning the outdoor space for children at women’s shelter, helping build a community park, helping other nonprofits with their fundraisers, and doing a community assessment of the impact of marijuana legalization.

Although there were many exciting moments and memories created like a random ocean playtime on a beach that felt like having a private beach due to no one else being around, a rafting trip, a theme park, some cuts and bruises from service activities, and lots of great food, none of the days were quite as exciting as the 2nd day which participants described as a day much like a game of Jumanji or real-life story out of National Lampoons vacation where nothing seemed to go right. The day included some RV brake trouble, a baby having to go to a hospital from a respiratory illness, and an evacuation from the theme park due to a large lumber mill fire starting across the street. Despite all the excitement of the week, normal daily drama, and eventfulness of the trip, nothing deterred the teens and adults from having a good time, laughing hard at themselves and their mistakes, growing stronger as individuals, experiencing self-reflection, and making the best of each day.

Parents Corner: August 2021

ODP wants to acknowledge, support, and celebrate parents, mentors, teachers, and coaches. You are the real change-makers. The work of a parent can feel endless, and 2020 drove home that point. Our fast-paced world exposes children to new hazards that are hard to track. Technological advances move fast and open our kids to unknown risks through television marketing, social media, and even in local convenience stores. Change is inevitable, so we all need to stay informed and help minimize danger to our children by helping them navigate hard decisions and make healthy choices.

Tall Cop Says Stop

Last month the ODP staff attended the Northwest Alcohol and Substance Abuse Conference (NWASA) and came back with information parents might find helpful. Some of the information was quite startling. Substances like Delta 8, kava, and kratom, located in convenience stores and online in the U.S., aren’t yet regulated and pose serious dangers. Officer J. Galloway, who coordinates conferences all over the United States for law enforcement and school districts, listed numerous examples of products sold in vape shops, truck stops, and convenience stores in his keynote presentation.

Most of us assume a substance is safe if you can buy it at the corner drug store. However, new substances can enter the U.S., bypass regulators, and head straight into our children’s hands and mouths. Find out more on Officer Galloway’s website: www.tallcopsaysstop.com

Project Filter

Project Filter reminded us that young people desire accurate information, not scare tactics. Kids don’t want lectures. They don’t like lessons about how they will turn into a horned toad if they vape. They want to know the actual health implications. And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that breathing in chemicals, many of which are found in car exhaust, isn’t healthy.

Project Filter is a prevention-based program available free to youths and adults who need help ending their addiction to vaping and smoking tobacco.

If you or your child needs help ending an addiction to vaping or smoking, Project Filter is entirely confidential, and they provide free cessation assistance. To Find out more, go to www.projectfilter.org

Social Media

Last year, most kids spent more time buried in screens, making them vulnerable to even more marketing to people who make their money by the click.

Our children are receiving messaging so customized it goes straight to what motivates them. I was shocked to learn in a lecture by Boise County Sheriff’s Office Deputy David Gomez about the hazards of social media. If you want to educate yourself about what your children face online, I recommend following Officer Gomez’s Facebook page.

Just because your kids have not left their room does not mean they are safe.

Karen Wiliams says, “Breath”

Williams is an educator and social worker, gifted at explaining the neuroscience of our children’s growing brains in simple terms. She says that a young person’s brain continues to develop well into their twenties. So that doughy-eyed look they give you is not an act. Williams suggested teaching youths how to manage stress and offered helpful tools to deal with stress without using drugs or alcohol. Karen’s talk focused on the differences between the adolescent brain and how acknowledgment is critical when working with teens.

Unmitigated stress on our children impacts their ability to cope. We can help our youth navigate the obstacles of life with simple tools like deep breathing.

Breathing comes naturally to us, but we seldom think about the importance a deep belly breath can have on our mental health. Karen Williams spoke to the NWASA Conference about the need to teach our kids to breathe deep, take a breath and activate our parasympathetic nervous system.

Resources for families:

Free Printable Planners to Help Your Child Stay on Track

Help your student start the semester strong and stay on track this year with these free printable daily, weekly, and monthly planners from BeTheParents.org and the Idaho Office of Drug Policy. Click on the images below to download the planners as PDFs.

Toolkit: How to Contact Your Legislators

A well-articulated personal letter, email, postcard, or phone call are some of the most effective ways to communicate with elected officials. They want to know how their constituents feel about issues, especially when those issues involve decisions around potential legislation.

Whether you want to contact your legislator(s) via letter, email, phone call, or postcard – the ODP toolkit will help you identify your legislators, find their contact information, and give you tips to make the process simple and effective. Download it for free – Toolkit: How to Contact Your Legislators

Printable Postcards

Printable Postcards

Toolkit: How to Write a Letter to Your Elected Officials

Letters, emails, and postcards are an extremely effective way of communicating with your elected officials. Are you interested in sending a postcard to your representatives? Download and print these postcards for free (we recommend using cardstock or other paper sturdier than regular printer paper).