Heather Quale and Emily Oetzman, recent Lodi High School graduates, were awarded the 2019 Tobacco Free Columbia-Dane County Coalition (TFCDC) Youth Advocacy Award for their leadership and advocacy with the Lodi High School FACT program.
FACT is a teen-based and teen-driven program with members in grades 7th-12th who are devoted to spreading the truth about tobacco and nicotine products to their peers, community members, and policymakers. There are approximately 30 active FACT groups around the state of Wisconsin.
Quale and Oetzman were two of the first members of Lodi FACT when it was formed about four years ago. They have been a crucial part of the group’s success by conducting several FACTivisms (activisms with a FACT focus), meeting with state policymakers about the importance of tobacco prevention, and passing a strong and comprehensive e-cigarette school district policy. Both provided public testimony about the youth e-cigarette epidemic at the Janesville Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing in March.
In addition, Quale participated in TFCDC Advisory Board Meetings sharing Lodi FACT group activities, while Oetzman participated on the Statewide FACT Youth Advisory Board for the 2017-2018 school year.
When asked what she’s most proud of being a part of Lodi FACT, Oetzman said, “I’m most proud of how far Lodi FACT has come since the group started my freshman year. We started with about eight students and now the group has expanded to over 30 active members. It was so awesome to see the group grow. I’m also proud of how active the group is, including doing FACTivisms at the high school and in collaboration with students at the Middle School, as well as recruiting students to meet with state legislators. The group is doing great stuff!”
When asked what she hopes for the group moving forward, Quale said, “I’m looking forward to seeing who else is passionate! High school students are capable of so much, and I’m excited to see how others will grow and develop skills as members of FACT. I look forward to following the Lodi FACT group as they continue to interact with the community and state policymakers to make significant change in reducing youth tobacco and e-cigarette use!”
Tobacco Free Columbia Dane County Coalition Coordinator, Nina Gregerson, praised Heather and Emily for their leadership and advocacy, “Heather and Emily are exceptional. It’s been a pleasure to see them grow their leadership, advocacy, and strategic communications skills. They have played a significant part of preventing a new generation hooked on nicotine and tobacco products in Lodi and Columbia County! I have no doubt their contribution to FACT will continue to have a lasting impression after they graduate.”
Tobacco Free Columbia-Dane County Coalition is a local organization funded by Wisconsin’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.