Youth-led action to heal opioid epidemic earns Society honors for CROP+TR

SAR award group
From left, CROP+TR team members including Prevention Science doctoral student Erica Doering, Research Coordinator Kate Hampilos, Associate Professor and Co-Director Elizabeth Weybright, and doctoral student Elizabeth Purser take part in the Society for Research on Adolescence’s 2022 annual meeting. Weybright accepted the project’s 2022 Organizational Impact Award, pictured below, on behalf of CROP+TR.

Washington State University’s cross-college efforts to help rural youth and communities overcome the opioid epidemic were honored by the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Praised for its youth-led action research, provider training, and technical assistance, WSU’s Center for Rural Opioid Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery (CROP+TR) earned the Organizational Award for Excellence in Research and Programming for Youth.

Team members including co-leader Elizabeth Weybright, associate professor in the Department of Human Development, research coordinator Kate Hampilos, and doctoral students Erica Doering and Elizabeth Purser accepted the honor at the society’s annual meeting, March 4, 2022, in New Orleans.

The award recognizes significant contributions in science, policies, and programs that serve young people from diverse backgrounds. Recognition focused on the Center’s youth participatory action research project, Take-PART, in which teens in Washington’s Yakima, Spokane, and Clallam counties helped peers and community members understand the opioid crisis.

Award plaque
The 2020 Organizational Impact Award, pictured overlooking the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

Offered to youth through local 4-H programs, Take-PART—the acronym is short for Participatory Action Research with Teens—enabled young people to learn about the epidemic from first responders and experts, then inform others through fair displays, booths, podcasts, and other outreach efforts.

In collaboration with the WSU Colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Medicine, researchers created Opioid 101 digital resources for teens, as well as free on-demand web training on the neurobiology of opioid misuse and addiction, aimed at adults and educators.

“It’s an honor for CROP+TR to be acknowledged for our efforts to empower youth as change-makers in their own communities, and to support those who work with youth and communities to address opioid use,” Weybright said.  “The passion, creativity, and enthusiasm teens bring make them strong advocates for local change. This work is especially important in rural communities who are disproportionately and negatively impacted.”

CROP+TR is a joint venture of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, and WSU Extension, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In addition to youth, CROP+TR supports organizations and individuals engaged in opioid-related work.

“Although CROP+TR was only established in 2019, they have made significant strides to promote evidence-based programming targeting historically marginalized youth in Washington State,” commented CAHNRS Interim Dean Richard T. Koenig and Floyd College Founding Dean John Tomkowiak in nomination materials. “By engaging teens as true partners in the research process, we see positive outcomes among youth, their families, and the broader community.”

Learn more about the Center’s work here.