Health Science Students Receive Alcohol Education Program of the Year Award

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Health Science professor Kelly Parsley’s PH333 class – Public Health Theories & Practice was awarded the 2017 Alcohol Education Summit Outstanding Community Program of the Year award from the Liquor Control Division of the Montana Department of Revenue. The award recognizes a community program that has helped to change the drinking culture in their community. The students’ set out  to seek an impactful solution to reducing alcohol related problems and assist in reducing some of the harm associated with college student drinking. Their efforts included a combination of assessing alcohol use, implementing educational strategies, and supporting community partnerships.

The following is an outline of their program:

The Triad of Success: Using Academics in Conjunction with Student Affairs and Local Police to Reduce Harm Associated with Alcohol Consumption by College Students

Harm related to alcohol consumption is widespread on college campuses. It can lead to increased sexual violence, car accidents, lowered grades, and increased dropout rates. Student affairs staff and local law enforcement have traditionally been the entities that address these problems and have achieved limited success.

To seek a new and more impactful solution to reducing alcohol related problems, the students in Carroll College’s Public Health Theories and Practice course (PH333), for the past five years, have partner with the county’s DUI taskforce to see if they couldn’t assist in reducing some of the harm associated with college student drinking. Students in the course used a public health lens to address the harms associated with college student drinking. In partnership with campus staff and local law enforcement, this student-driven work has made a significant impact in reducing harm related to student alcohol consumption.

Students in the course seized on the issue of alcohol abuse as an educational opportunity for students learning theories and methods for public health promotion. Students enrolled in the 300 level course studied public health theories to plan, implement, and evaluation health promotion programs. They were then asked to apply their knowledge to the issue of alcohol use by their peers. Annually, students completed the following work:

A. Assessing Alcohol Use by Carroll Students (students added seatbelt usage as well since it is another tool for keeping drivers and passengers safe)

  • Complete a literature review on college drinking and driving
  • Conduct at least 18 one-on-one interviews with community members to gain better understanding of alcohol use, drunk driving rates, and seat belt use
  • Create focus groups to gain better understanding of alcohol use, drunk driving, and seat belt use.
  • Complete at least 18 environmental scans of areas known for student drinking (e.g., freshman housing, party houses, local bars) for alcohol use on and near campus
  • Determine most effective education and information sharing strategies to reach peers

B. Implementing Educational Strategies

  • Create media messages on the consequences of drinking and driving as well as not wearing a seat belt.
    • Develop flyers, table tents, reader boards, etc.
    • Present to student groups
    • Create community-wide education forum to share information. This event will include students, faculty, staff, and community members.
    • Conduct a community meeting which will present all of the information collected throughout the semester

C. Evaluating Success of the Program

  • Document work completed and results of interviews, focus groups, literature reviews, and environmental scans.
  • Share results with community and area stakeholders

D. Establish and Support Community Partnerships

  • Select student to attend DUI Taskforce meetings to share ideas and build collaborative relationships that address illegal alcohol use, drunk driving, and seatbelt use
  • Create a community informational event 
  • Disseminate results and prepare final report to share with Carroll senior leadership, DUI Taskforce, and other stakeholders

This past year, Carroll students conducted 18 interviews with campus and community members, completed 20 environmental scans of places students are known to drink, completed an alcohol outlet density scan, and hosted two community meetings.  These assessment activities were accompanied by educational efforts that included social norms campaigns, educational flyers, and an annual community education event called the “Party Panel” and a community forum. Throughout this work, it became evident that alcohol use both on and off campus is still a very large part of the college experience; however, efforts by these students have worked well to decrease some of the harmful consequences associated with college student drinking.

Although only a small program, we believe that the results of these efforts suggests that the best harm reduction strategies for college student drinking may require more than the work of student affairs staff or local police; it may require faculty commitment, coursework, and inclusion in curricula as well.

"I am proud of these students for their hard work and commitment to the problems of student drinking, but I am more than delighted that the results of their labor have been so fruitful," said Parsley. "Their work has revealed that relying solely on student life or law enforcement to solve the problem offers only limited success in reducing alcohol-related harm. For significant and long term success, colleges and communities may need to include students’ classroom learning and hands-on assignments as well."


Students in the Spring 2017 PH 333  Course

Student intern/leader: Sydney Beach


Arnold, James J.

Graff, Katelyn M.

Bumgarner, Gabrielle G.

Hawe, Hallie R.

Burton, Sarah K.

Johnson, Tucker S.

Campbell, Andrew J.

Jones, Kaitlin S.

Drew, Lacey L.

Kraut, Nicole M.

Ehmann, Keely E.

Milburn, Zachary D.

Erickson, Skyler J.

Nelson, Taylor J.

Fifield, Macala A.

Pilgeram, Rayna

Gardner, Amelia R.

Umsted, Tory J.

Gaudreau, Gabriel B.

White, Monica C.


Zimmermann, Mary M.


In addition, Judge Mike Swingley provided a letter is support of their nomination for the award:

May 30, 2017

TO:     Whom it May Concern:

RE:      Alcohol Education Award

I wish to add my support to Professor Kelly Parsley and her students at Carroll College, in consideration for the Alcohol Education Award.  Over the past several years I have been a participant in a panel discussion at Carroll College involving underage drinking and the consequences that students may face if charged criminally with that offense.  Further, the panel discussion includes information on hosting parties, DUI’s, drug use, etc.  The panel discussion is something that I look forward to participating in, and it is attended by law enforcement officers, counselors, and other interested parties, that may have an impact on underage drinking.

What always impresses me about Professor Parsley’s program and students is the interest they take in this area.  The last panel I attended in 2017 had a full house of students that came to listen, learn and ask questions. The numbers of students that participate in the program is commendable and reflects on the quality of instruction provided by Professor Parsley and the caliber of the students involved.

As a judge and former Montana Highway Patrol Trooper, I know firsthand how underage drinking impacts our community and the individuals involved. This program and group of students are proactively attacking the issue and should be commended for their efforts and contribution to the community in fighting this issue. I wholeheartedly recommend them for the Alcohol Education Award and appreciate the chance to comment on their behalf.


Mike Swingley

Justice of the Peace