2020 Minnesota Prevention Program Sharing Conference

2020 Minnesota Prevention Program
Sharing Conference


The Annual Minnesota Prevention Program Sharing conference provides learning, networking and skill-building opportunities to enhance alcohol, tobacco, and other drug misuse (ATOD) prevention efforts. By sharing effective prevention strategies and programs, presenters and participants learn from one another in this exemplary, two-day learning community.

Details including breakout sessions, keynote speakers and more can be found below.

Online Event

In addition, all breakout sessions will be recorded and attendees will be able to go back and watch any sessions they missed for 30 days after the conference.


$75 – Early Bird Registration (register before September 1st to receive this discounted rate)

$100 – Regular Registration (register after September 1st)

$80 – Group Registration (purchase 3+ tickets together to receive this discounted rate)

$35 – Student Registration (must be currently enrolled in high school or higher education institution only)

$350 – Coalition Registration (this ticket is intended for groups of 5 or more people watching in a single location)


Scholarships: The Minnesota Prevention Resource Center strives to ensure this conference is accessible to all workin on substance abuse prevention in Minnesota. Limited scholarships are available to cover the registration cost of attending the conference. All scholarship applications must be received by the end of the day, Friday, October 9.

Refund Policy: All refunds will be charged a 10% administrative fee. Refunds will issued up to 7 days before the conference.

Learn more about our keynote speakers
& breakout sessions below!

Keynote Speaker: Amit Sood

Keynote Speaker: Amit Sood

Keynote Presentation: Immune Resilience: The Need of the Hour

Dr. Sood is the creator of the Resilient Option program. He is one of the world's leading experts on resilience and wellbeing, and executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing. He was also professor of medicine, and Chair for student life and wellness at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Sood has authored or co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed papers and is the author of several books including, The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness, Mindfulness Redesigned, SMART with Dr. Sood, The Resilience Journal, and Build Your Immune Resilience. Dr. Sood has presented at some of the highest impact forums like, TEDx, Lake Nona, Forbes Under 30 Forum, Conference Board, Beckers, YPO, NPR, NAMI, NBGH, NASA, keynotes for Fortune 500 companies, universities, foundations, and others. He has received numerous awards including the 2010 Distinguished Service, 2010 Innovator of the Year, 2013 Outstanding Physician Scientist and 2016 Faculty of the Year awards, all from Mayo Clinic. He was selected as one among top 20 intelligent optimist in the world (Ode Magazine). Dr. Sood was also selected by RWJ Foundation as one of the health care pioneers.

Keynote Speaker: Jason Anderson

Keynote Speaker: Jason Anderson

Keynote Presentation: Let's Talk: A Science of the Positive Approach to Community Conversations

Upon his discharge from the United States Army, Jason obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (Minor in Psychology) at Moorhead State University. He has worked in the field of probation since 1998 - spending a decade as an adult felony probation/parole agent and 5 years as an Evidence-Based Practices project manager/trainer for the MN Dept. of Corrections. Jason became the Director of the Itasca County Probation Department in 2013. In addition to his duties as a probation officer and manager, he has served as a trainer of various topics since 2001. He is an active member of 2 school-based substance abuse prevention coalitions in his community. Jason began curriculum development and training delivery for The Montana Institute in 2016. A father of 2 boys (ages 17 and 20), he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, singing in his church choir and dabbles in community theater.

Breakout Sessions

Download the conference program below to view the agenda and breakout presentation descriptions

Conference Program

Community Engagement and Communication Strategies to Propel Your Prevention Work

Speaker: Luke Ewald, BS

Community engagement and communication strategies are fundamental and valuable to public health practice. These strategies help: create community partnerships; develop action plans; implement identified priorities; and sustain implemented goals, objectives, and/or strategies. In addition, engagement and communication are able to help identify assets, enhance challenges, and identify more effective solutions. Community engagement and communication is an ongoing process. Attendees will learn creative and fun methods to work with advocates, particularly youth, in tobacco prevention efforts.

Design thinking meets Prevention: Innovative Strategies for Planning and Problem Solving

Speaker: Elisabeth Atherly, MBA

This workshop will introduce participants to key concepts in Design Thinking and provide opportunities for active application. Design Thinking focuses on the customer or user of a program or service and tailors solutions to meet their needs. Design Thinking has a natural affinity to public health in that it is a human-centered process based on deep understanding of the community/audience gained through conversation and observation. Design Thinking concepts and tools are easily applied in community-based planning processes, and with coalitions to identify and prioritize challenging SUD prevention issues and ideate creative solutions that work. Participants will practice Design Thinking by building skills to apply empathy, optimism, creative confidence, embrace ambiguity, and iteration.

Developing Culturally-Specific Prevention and Intervention Supports for Karen Youth

Speakers: Tonya Horn, PhD, LISW; Ner Mu; Ta Da

After resettlement, while many refugee-background youth integrate quickly, others face barriers to resettlement including difficulty with school and family stressors (Patel et al, 2017). Both pre-migration trauma and post-migration stress contribute to elevated risk of harmful substance use (Posselt et al., 2014). Compounding these risk factors, there are very few, if any, substance use prevention or treatment programs that specifically target refugee youth and consider their migratory, sociohistorical, cultural, and linguistic characteristics (McCleary, 2016). There are even fewer resources for Karen youth, who are a relatively new refugee-background community from Burma who have been arriving to the U.S. in large numbers since 2007. This presentation describes the process of developing and implementing culturally-specific prevention and intervention supports for Karen youth. The work described in this presentation was developed in partnership between the Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration (KCDC), a cross-disciplinary, crossprofessional group, and the Karen Organization of Minnesota. Prevention and intervention supports go beyond intervening with individual youth to engaging parents and family members, community leaders, youth leaders, and faith leaders. Crucial steps in the development of this programming, including the role of the Karen community in identifying community problems and solutions, will be discussed.

Emotional Resilience

Speaker: Amit Sood, MD

The events of the first half of 2020 have created tremendous stress and anxiety. Many are overwhelmed and feeling tremendous lack of control. Further, the brain's innate mechanisms often multiple negative emotions. In this session, Dr. Sood will take you on a backstage tour of the brain that will help you understand the brain mechanisms the create and generate stress. You will then learn several actionable ideas you can immediately implement to decrease your stress and develop emotional resilience. Dr. Sood's program has been tested in over 30 clinical trials and offered to hundreds of thousands of patients and students.

Gambling Disorder in Minnesota - Recent trends in attitudes, behaviors and experiences

Speaker: Susan Sheridan Tucker, MUP

Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA) is the state affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG)  and will present basic facts about gambling disorder and the prevalence of comorbidity with substance abuse and suicidal ideation. The presentation will also include findings from two recent studies; the first from the largest national consumer study commissioned by NCPG that examines the prevalence rates of various forms of gambling and a Minnesota specific study that measures 4 behavioral characteristics of gamblers and the implications of prevention messaging.

How to Talk with Youth About Vaping: Prevention lessons created from conversations with teens

Speakers: Elyse Levine Less, JD, MPH; Melissa Mady, MPH

The popularity of vaping among youth has grown astronomically in the past few years. A 2019 CDC report found that over a quarter of American high-school students vaped in the past month which is consistent with recent findings in Minnesota. Even more alarming, youth who vape are getting younger evidenced by the 2019 Minnesota Student survey results showing that e-cigarette use among 8th graders nearly doubled from 2016 to 2019. The growing national concern about teen vaping has public health professionals and schools scrambling to develop educational tools to prevent e-cigarette use among youth and ultimately prevent youth from developing a lifetime addiction to nicotine. To understand the motivation behind why teens, most of whom would never smoke a regular cigarette, are vaping, we conducted focus groups with high school students in both rural Minnesota and Twin Cities Metro communities. Focus group topics explored such as knowledge, perceptions, attitudes, and peer norms about vaping helped identify influences that encourage teens to use these dangerous products. Participants identified messages and messengers they would listen to about harms and making healthy decisions about use. This workshop will explore our results, how we used this information to identify influences that encourage teens to vape, and our effective and tailored messaging we created for teens about harms and healthy decision-making. We will also share lessons learned from the hundreds of middle and high school vaping prevention presentations we have conducted using methods gleaned from our focus group findings.

Insights from the 2020 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey (MYTS)

Speakers: Sharrilyn Helgertz, PhD

In addition to getting the latest estimates on youth vaping, the 2020 MYTS is asking new questions about nicotine dependence and which cessation services teens might use. The 2020 MYTS is breaking new ground by assessing the potential impact of various flavor bans on youth vaping and whether teens who vape are experiencing symptoms of lung injury. Minnesota is the first to assess a representative sample of vaping youth for adverse health effects. Finally, the 2020 MYTS asks teens about marijuana use and vaping THC (which is the leading cause for lung injury), so we can learn how many youth are using vaping devices for THC.

Local Health Department’s Role in Opioid Misuse and Abuse Prevention

Speakers: Becky Graham, BSN, RN, PHN; Ellie Vanasse, BSN, RN, PHN; Jacob Anson, BS

Efforts from local health departments to implement and support opioid misuse prevention strategies are continually met with roadblocks, including inadequate data, financial constraints, and a pervasive misunderstanding regarding the complexities of opioid misuse and abuse.

By establishing cross-sector partnerships that leverage the knowledge and experience of stakeholders to overcome these barriers, Wright County Public Health (WCPH) has embraced the true responsibility of public health in assuring an equitable and timely approach is used to prevent substance use. Wright County has an increased capacity to respond to the opioid epidemic using co-created projects with local government and community partners.

WCPH and partners continue to explore innovative ways to address the opioid epidemic at a local level through creation of policies and procedures, transforming the systems that impact substance use, and cultivating environments that encourage lifelong health.

This session will address how to build capacity to mutually address substance use with a variety of partners and assist attendees in applying these concepts to their work. Focus will be on finding advocates, building collaborations for collective impact, data collection and analysis, and action plan development. WCPH will share different ways to measure and celebrate success and how to fearlessly attempt big and bold ideas.

Meeting students where they’re at: innovations and impacts of substance misuse prevention course for undergraduates

Speakers: Emily Matson, MPH, MCHES, CHWP; Ashley Mitchell, MPH

Alcohol & College Life is a one-credit online elective course offered to undergraduate students since 2002 by the Rothenberger Institute within the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. This session will describe the innovations made over time in order to meet the changing needs of college students. Guided by a logic model, attendees will be shown how theory and evidence-based practices are used to support behavior change and provide students with opportunities to practice skills, self-assess their understanding of learning objectives, and reflect on course concepts and the applicability to their lives. Additionally, attendees will hear about the use of peer health educators trained as teaching assistants, who support students through the Stages of Change by using motivational interviewing and appreciative inquiry techniques in their written feedback to students’ reflection assignments. The session will include a brief demonstration of course module navigation to explain the logic behind creating personalized learning pathways and showcase Universal Design principles. Examples will be provided of educators using the course content in face-to-face, hybrid, and online settings. Evaluation planning and implementation will be discussed, including end-of-module surveys, learner analytics, and course evaluations. Short- and long-term impacts, including health behaviors and academic retention, will be shared. Finally, attendees will hear about the ways in which continual needs assessment, evaluation, literature review, and input from students and other stakeholders has informed ongoing innovations.

Minnesota Prevention Alliance: A statewide approach to reducing youth alcohol and youth marijuana use

Speakers: Laura Daak, Sheila Watercott

Minnesota Prevention Alliance (MPA) is a statewide organization that collaborates across many communities and many statewide partners to prevent youth substance abuse. MPA was recently awarded a Drug Free Communities Grant to support strategies to reduce youth alcohol use and reduce youth marijuana use in Minnesota. In this session, MPA members will share details of the statewide strategies they will be using to impact youth use of alcohol and marijuana in Minnesota over the next 4 years. They will also share the process they used for organizing a statewide prevention coalition, including success stories, challenges, and lessons learned.

Need data? We can help! The new & improved Minnesota Injury Data Access System (MIDAS)

Speakers: Kari Gloppen, PhD; Nate Wright, MPH

To support its mission of preventing injury and violence in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health has reimagined and redeveloped MIDAS, the Minnesota Injury Data Access System. Through the use of data visualizations and interactive dashboards, MIDAS provides users data for their community over time and by key demographic and geographic breakdowns. In this session, the presenters will provide an overview of the new dashboards, with a focus on the Drug Overdose and Substance Use and Alcohol modules. Additional modules will focus on injury, violence, and motor vehicle crash outcomes. These updated modules provide the latest data from hospital and death certificate data on drug use and overdose, and alcohol-attributable conditions in Minnesota.

Peer Wellness Coaching: Improving the Health, Wellness, & Retention of Students

Speakers: Jen Johnson, MS; Erica Karger-Gatzow, LICSW; Nevena Vasovic, BS

College can be a stressful environment for students, and they often struggle to feel connected and in turn may make choices that negatively impact their health and wellness including coping with substance use. College campuses can struggle to retain students throughout their academic career if they do not feel a sense of connection; research has shown students sense of belonging is a key indicator for student retention. As colleges begin to explore strategies and efforts to increase student retention, degree completion and holistic health and wellness for students, St. Cloud State created Peer Wellness Coaching to help resolve this issue. Peer Wellness Coaching is a newly formed program at St Cloud State University, initially created to improve student’s health and wellness, which has been found to increase feelings of connection and retention. Peer Wellness Coaching uses motivational interviewing as a framework for coaching sessions to maximize the success of helping clients best reach their desired wellness goal, while being mindful of clients’ busy schedules. This presentation will show how St. Cloud State University's Peer Wellness Coaching program was created, and how it has been able to impact students' sense of belonging to campus and work to improve health and wellness; positive results towards improving student retention, academic success, healthy coping, and overall wellness.

Prevention Work: The Impact of Communicating Your 'Why'

Speaker: Jason Anderson

So much of the work of prevention centers on communication. We communicate the concerns about risky behavior. We also communicate our hopefulness that is grounded in both the data and our belief that the positive exists in our community and it is worth growing. The spirit of our work – the energy-giving ‘why’ is a dynamic that can solidify a coalition and even a community as it addresses a particular concern. In this workshop we will explore the powerful impact of communicating your ‘why’. In this skill-building and informational workshop, Jason will introduce the rationale supporting this important element to effective prevention efforts and provide specific strategies for doing so.

Smoke is Smoke: The Intersection of Smoke-Free Housing and Marijuana

Speakers: Jackie Siewert, BA; Rachel Callanan, JD, MNM

When it comes to health, smoke is smoke, whether it comes from commercial tobacco or marijuana. Although the general public perceives marijuana smoke to be less harmful than commercial tobacco smoke, research shows that secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing substances as secondhand tobacco smoke. The possibility of legalized recreational marijuana in Minnesota raises many questions about how legalization of recreational marijuana could impact existing smoke-free laws and policies, such as smoke-free housing policies. Drawing upon experience from states that legalized recreational marijuana and policies in place in Minnesota, this session will address many of those questions and start a conversation about the threat of secondhand marijuana smoke on decades of progress in smoke-free air policies in Minnesota.

Substance Abuse Prevention = Suicide Prevention

Speaker: Kelly Felton, CPPR

Great news! When communities are working on substance abuse prevention, they are also doing suicide prevention. Come learn about the connection between the two missions and what can be gained by combining these common prevention goals, as we all work to promote a safe and healthy community.

This session will provide a broad overview of suicide prevention and share the risk and protective factors associated with substance abuse and suicide. Together we will start the conversation, about how we can do our work differently without needing to choose substance abuse prevention or suicide prevention, but rather both. This collaborative approach will allow for additional community buy in and sustainability.

Sustaining Coalition Leadership through Innovative Approaches

Speakers: Angie Asa-Lovstad, MS, CPS, CTF; Karie Terhark, CTF

Sustainability often focuses on the work that the collective has created over time, but we all know that momentum is given to the collaborative when paid staff is guiding the process. Join your colleagues in a discussion around why having paid staff is imperative to sustaining a coalition. Collectively the participants will identify and create key talking points to bring back home to share with funders on the value a coalition leaders serves in providing the steam to keep the plan moving down the track. In this session participants will be shown tools that engage our coalition members and provide an opportunity for their voices and ideas to be heard so that there is buy-in to the plan which builds sustainability for the beginning. Join us for this engaging workshop where your thoughts and ideas are essential to shaping the innovative approaches.

Telling Your Deeper Story: Engaging Your Community Through Authentic Storytelling

Speaker: Nick Theisen, BA

Doing the work to fulfill our organization's (and our personal) mission and vision is of the utmost importance, but telling the story of that work is also of great value. What is the value of telling these stories? What are effective methods of storytelling? Come learn about how to tell stories of your work for both external marketing purposes and for internal organizational growth. We'll also explore how story can be used to highlight ways in which your work relates to and impacts your broader community. The work you do is highly intertwined with the health of the community as a whole and highlighting that connectedness can lend a new degree of effectiveness and fortitude to your work. You'll leave with practical insights on how to tell stories, a written (and editable) story-communication plan, and an expanded sense of possibility in reaching your community.

Tobacco Prevention in Minnesota: What we have accomplished and the road ahead

Speaker: Alexis Bylander, MS

Minnesota is a national leader in tobacco prevention and control. Our state has made indoor public spaces smoke-free, significantly increased the price of tobacco, regulated e-cigarettes and more. At the local level, cities and counties have passed nation leading policies such as restricting or banning the sale of kid-friendly flavored tobacco including menthol, setting minimum prices for nonpremium cigars and raising the tobacco age to 21. For more than two decades, ClearWay Minnesota has contributed to this work through research, policy advocacy, marketing campaigns and cessation services. Now in the final year of the organization’s limited-life, ClearWay Minnesota is preparing to sunset. Join this session to learn about all that has been accomplished in tobacco prevention and control in Minnesota and the work that still needs to be done, particularly around the youth vaping epidemic. Learn how some of ClearWay Minnesota’s work will be taken over by partner organizations and about some of the potential gaps that may remain. Now, more than ever, there is a need for public health to lead tobacco prevention policy efforts to ensure Minnesota continues to be a leader in reducing tobacco’s harm.

Using Superpowers to Advance Health Equity. Bam!

Speakers: Melissa Adolfson, MS; Jacquelyn Freund, MS

You can be a superhero for youth in your community. Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) findings show that protective factors like having adults to discuss problems with, feeling empowered, and feeling safe are associated with lower rates of youth substance use and mental health issues. But the findings also reveal that these protective factors are not always equitably distributed in Minnesota communities. New response options for self-identified race/ethnicity on the 2019 MSS allow us to see how prevalent protective factors are for each population, and which protective factors are most salient. Groups that experience the greatest disparities in health outcomes also have experienced the greatest inequities in social conditions that strongly predict health. Communities can use tools such as the MSS Protective Factor Profiles by Race/Ethnicity, along with new Minnesota Compass Cultural Community Profiles, to learn more about the youth in their area and which community member superpowers can be unleashed to improve health equity.

What Went Wrong? Emerging Research on the Lived Experiences of Persons with Psychological Trauma and Substance Abuse & Strategies for Healing

Speakers: Molly Bailey, PhD, LMFT; Kadie Ausherbauer, PhD, LAMFT; Elsa Kraus, MFT

This session will present new qualitative research on the lived experiences of people coping with substance use disorders and their lifetime histories of trauma and involvement in justice systems. Themes of how life trajectories began with early exposure to trauma, how people slipped through the gaps in our systems of care (justice/corrections, healthcare/mental health/chemical health, schools, community agencies) and what supports these individuals wished was available to them will be presented. We will connect the supports participants wished was available to them with our experience and training as trauma therapists to help prevent individuals from falling through gaps. Strategies for identifying, treating, and supporting trauma (PTSD) care in schools, community-based agencies, child welfare, juvenile justice, and recovery programs will be discussed. The concept of family prevention as a frame for closing some of the gaps in our systems will be offered as an alternative to the status quo. Family-based prevention is based on the idea that families can be the greatest resource for buffering the effects of adversity for individuals, when families are adequately supported. Instead of piecemeal services focused on individuals, programs that support family functioning at various points on the prevention continuum are one way to close gaps in our many systems of care.

Youth engagement with suicide preventive programs in South Asian Indian communities in Minnesota

Speaker: Dasharath Yata, PhD

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

The youth play a substantial role in the progress of a nation and yet one of the burning problems we face is how to prevent Suicide among the youth which is the10th leading death cause in US). The need of the hour is to find out the major factors behind the issue and find possible remedies. There are many factors responsible for this problem and family, society, educational institutions play a significant role. The socio-political and economic environment influences a person and can affect their psyche.

 The South Asian Indian communities (Out Population 90,000- 30% youth) in Minnesota have been impacted by an increase in suicidality behaviors in their youth due to Stress, Anxiety, depressions, and substance abuse leading to mental health issues and suicides.

According to API Health Forum (APIAHF) finding more percentage of Asians, particularly 15-24, had been found to exhibit depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) says that Asians are the highest range of victims in suicides. In this presentation, we will review a snapshot of challenges Asians/Asian Indian youth living in Minnesota often face, current services offered by our community agencies, and statistical data on Asian Indian youth suicidality as well as discussion questions on how to better engage youth within the Asian Indian subculture. Personal narratives from youth will be used to convey qualitative data.

Youth, vaping, and mental health: what’s the connection?

Speaker: Cory Cole, MPH

During 2019’s multistate outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI), investigators from the Minnesota Department of Health noticed a troubling pattern: over two thirds of EVALI patients had a history of depression, anxiety, or some other mental health condition prior to their lung injury. Hoping to further contextualize this finding, MDH epidemiologists analyzed data from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, looking at the association between mental health indicators and respondents’ reported vaping behavior. These analyses revealed that the odds of vaping are over two times as high for students with a mental health condition as they are for students without a mental health condition. While much remains to be learned about this association and its implications for population health, the available information can be used to craft targeted prevention strategies aimed at supporting youths living with mental health conditions.