Faculty Members Chosen to Serve on Missouri Methamphetamine Prevention and Education Task Force

Southeast Missouri State University criminal justice faculty members Dr. John Wade and Linda Keena have been appointed by Gov. Bob Holden to serve on the Missouri Methamphetamine Task Force. 

The two will make a presentation at the Governor’s Summit on Methamphetamine April 25-28 in Kansas City.

Wade,  professor of criminal justice and sociology, and Keena, an instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology, were asked to serve on the task force as a result of a program they developed called “Meth Education for Elementary Schools,” or MEDFELS. 

Becky Owenson Kilpatrick, chairperson of the task force, said she is pleased to have Wade and Keena serving on the panel. 

“I am very excited that we will be working with Linda and John who have a background in the area of meth education,” Kilpatrick said.  “They have been enhancing the education that children are getting and will be a wonderful addition to our program.”

The task force is relatively new and was established via an executive order of Holden. The task force is designed to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the manufacture and use of methamphetamine throughout the State of Missouri.”  Holden signed the executive order in January.

According to Kilpatrick, the average age that people start making methamphetamine is in their mid-20s.  For this reason, the task force is not just tackling children, but entire communities.  The goals of the task force are to educate children, parents, communities, educators, retailers, health care workers and others about the use and danger of this drug; educate the public on the recognition and prevention of its use; coordinate public and private resources to address the education and prevention of its manufacture and use; and coordinate efforts with the new Treatment Task Force and Enforcement and Environmental Protection Task Force.

To complement the late Gov. Mel Carnahan’s “Life or Meth” program, Wade and Keena launched MEDFELS in 1999. The two were asked by Keena’s cousin, the late Chris Sifford, chief aid to Carnahan, to help with the program.  “Life or Meth” was originally targeted at individuals age 16 and up in Kansas City and Cape Girardeau.

According to Wade, the two were invited to a meeting that focused on education of the drug.  Together, they decided to start drug education at the third and fourth grade levels.  Grant funds were provided by the Midwest HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas), The Missouri Department of Public Safety and Southeast Missouri State University.

The MEDFELS program was developed in order to implement a drug education program that assists third and fourth grade teachers in presenting an accurate portrayal of the dangers associated with the manufacture, distribution and use of methamphetamine.

When asked about the nomination and presentation for the Task Force, Wade was enthusiastic.

“It’s really great,” Wade said.  “After the MEDFELS project was active, I was invited on the Midwest Demand Reduction Task Force, which dwindled over time.  When Linda (Keena) and I heard that Governor Holden was developing this Task Force, we were surprised that we weren’t invited; however, one day after a conference, Professor Keena told me that not only were we invited, but were also asked to present.

“It feels really good to have become a part of this, because we both have the common goal of reducing the use of methamphetamine, and it takes a lot of people to work on that reduction.”

For more information on the Task Force or the MEDFELS program, contact Dr. John Wade at (573) 651-2685 or jwade@semo.edu, and Linda Keena at lkeena@semo.edu or (573) 651-2219. Information also is available by visiting http://cstl.semo.edu/coned/Medfels/medfels.htm.