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Lyndon/Johnson Help State Police Address Opiate Crisis

August 4, 2017

LYNDON CTR., Vt. – A new initiative between a program at Lyndon and Johnson state colleges and the Vermont State Police aims to help address Vermont’s opiate addiction crisis.

That’s just one way students in the Incubator Without Walls (iWOW) program are helping Vermont agencies and businesses achieve their goals and grow affordably as students build skills in marketing and advertising, visual arts, videography, and business.

iWOW, established in 2007, is supported by Lyndon State’s Business and Visual Arts departments and the college’s Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The program offers technical assistance ranging from accounting tasks to software development to businesses, agencies and organizations in Vermont and New Hampshire. iWOW will expand to Johnson State in the fall.

In the opiate project, students will develop messaging for peers about the dangers of opioids to spread awareness about the toll the drugs are having on Vermont and try to deter their use. The project will begin in the upcoming academic year.

“The key is to understand the audience you’re talking to. Having youth create ideas to engage youth is one aspect of this, to get them involved in the conversation,” says iWOW co-director Tim Egan, who teaches at Lyndon and Johnson state colleges. “Kids want to listen to messages from themselves. That peer-to-peer messaging is important.”

Working with Lyndon “is an innovative way to construct a multimedia campaign about the important issue of the opiate crisis in Vermont. They have experienced professors guiding motivated students who are looking for the real-world experience this project provides,” Vermont State Police Captain John Merrigan says. Captain Merrigan is the Narcotics Investigation Unit (NIU) and Vermont Drug Task Force commander.

Student involvement will help state police reach “layers of Vermont communities that have been difficult to reach with traditional communications like press releases and law enforcement public service announcements,” Merrigan says. “Ideally, this project will assist all of Vermont in the areas of education, treatment and enforcement action as they pertain to the opiate epidemic.”

The opiate initiative will be one of the first projects Johnson State students will be involved with through iWOW. The program’s expansion to JSC is related to the unification of the two state colleges, which will be fully implemented in July 2018, when they become Northern Vermont University. The colleges will maintain separate campuses.

Last year’s iWOW projects included making an employee training video for defense contractor Revision Military, videography for Xtra Innings Performance trainers, documenting St. Johnsbury Academy student capstone projects, and developing a marketing plan for Burke Mountain Academy.

Cinema Production major Logan Wuerslin ’18 of Sandgate helped with filming for Revision Military and St. Johnsbury Academy.

“A lot of classes can’t give the same experience that actually going out and dealing with customers can,” he says. “Since parts of my job may indeed deal with work-for-hire videography jobs, having this experience before getting into the ‘real world’ will hopefully give me a head start in beginning my career.”

For more information, visit http://www.LyndonState.edu/iWOW

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