June 1, 2017

On May 31, 2017, the third annual countywide FNL & Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Awards Night was held at the Ventura County Office of Education.

Over 130 youth, families, advisors, school staff and community partners attended the evening event.

To start the evening, each participating school setup an informational resource table with a presentation board highlighting the project work they conducted throughout the year. Attendees were then able to visit each booth and view the diverse projects from throughout the county.

The program for the evening started with an opening by Dr. Antonio Castro, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services for VCOE. In his address, he spoke to the importance of youth development programming, opportunities for participation, and how healthy students are better equipped and more likely to succeed academically.

The opening was followed by the recognition of two advisors for their contributions to FNL in Ventura County. The first honoree was Ms. Bobbie Richards, who had completed eight years of service as an advisor for Ventura High School. During her tenure, she oversaw her group’s completion of multiple social norms, community assessments, and whole student-body engagement projects. She was also the Mentoring Advisor for multiple years for the FNL Mentoring program between Ventura High School and Cabrillo Middle School.

The second honoree for the evening was awarded, posthumously, to Ms. Maria Hernandez, who was formerly the advisor for the Paseo Santa Clara apartments community-based chapter with Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation. Ms. Hernandez oversaw the first FNL chapter in Ventura County to implement the Lee Law Project where her chapter’s youth conducted a community assessment of the alcohol and tobacco stores in the El Rio area. This project ultimately led to the students presenting their project findings and recommendations to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Not only did this impact the community, but the youth involved learned many skills and grew positive relationships with each other and the participating adults. Ms. Hernandez passed away on April 15, 2017, and her family was in attendance at the Awards Night to accept her recognition.

The evening also saw formal presentations by our three sites that had been awarded a mini-grant from the Office of Traffic Safety. Haydock Academy of Arts and Sciences, RJ Frank Academy of Marine Science and Engineering, and Ventura High School each received funding to conduct underage alcohol consumption prevention and awareness projects at their respective school sites.

To closeout the evening, each of the schools in attendance was invited to the stage to receive formal recognition and a certificate on their work for the year. Additionally, four graduating students from Ventura High School were awarded FNL scholarships – selected based on an application and essay process.

It was an incredible evening filled with fun and recognition, and an appropriate culmination of another successful year.