News and Events

Levy County Students Working Against Tobacco Members Continue Statewide Leadership
September 14, 2013

On September 15, 2013, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from twenty-one counties in North Florida attended a regional youth meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to elect three new Regional SWAT Representatives and to receive education on various tobacco issues that are relevant to the SWAT program. A total of five Levy SWAT members (Emily Manis, [Williston High], Dakota Woodruff [Chiefland High], Jordan Marlett and Chyann Kendall [Bronson High]) and one member who recently graduated (Ansley Pentz [Chiefland High, now University of Florida]) attended the meeting.

Emily Manis is a freshman at Williston High School and the new Levy County SWAT Representative. She volunteered to give a presentation to her peers at the meeting on tobacco Point of Sale issues. The students in attendance also received education and information delivered by their peers, including tobacco 101, electronic cigarettes, the theme for a statewide SWAT initiative, and strategies for running a SWAT meeting.

Annually, each of Florida’s four tobacco control regions elects three representatives, who collectively serve as the Florida Youth Advocacy Board (YAB). This group of youth works closely with the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida to advise on youth prevention issues, and they are often tasked with approving youth prevention media, planning youth meetings, and delivering training to their peers in each region.

Emily Manis
Emily Manis gives a speech prior to the Youth Advisory Board Election.

Emily Manis was elected by her peers at the meeting to serve as one of these Region 2 SWAT Representatives.  Emily said, “I had two amazing opportunities at the Region 2 SWAT meeting. In addition to running for the YAB, I also presented on Point of Sale, which was super awesome. As awesome as presenting on Point of Sale was, I would say that running for YAB is definitely the most exciting and impactful thing I have done so far in my SWAT career and I am so excited to serve and represent Region 2 as the best representative that I can possibly be.”

Levy County has had a youth elected to serve on the YAB for the past four years.   Ansley Pentz, a recent graduate from Chiefland High School and current freshman at University of Florida, served on the YAB for several years.  Ansley had a large part in planning this year’s regional SWAT meeting, and she attended to help facilitate the overall meeting and to “pass the torch” of YAB leadership to her peers. When asked about her experience, Ansley said “serving Region 2 for the past four years has been a phenomenal opportunity for personal and professional growth. At our recent meeting, I was able to see the fruits of my labor; youth were knowledgeable about our program, eager to learn of new tobacco industry tactics, and excited to elect new regional members.”

Levy Regional Delegation
The Levy County Delegation, from L to R:
Chyann Kendall, Emily Manis, Jordan Marlett, Ansley Pentz, Dakota Woodruff

Ansley was also excited to share information about a SWAT initiative, “Taste That,” which she recently worked on with the YAB. Ansley says, “In an effort to unify Florida’s prevention program, the Youth Advocacy Board created an initiative that tackles every aspect of tobacco industry manipulation. Sharing ‘Taste That’ was a superb end to a productive day. Not only was the message well-received by the youth and adults in attendance, they were ready to implement it right away. I am so proud of my region, and I will continue to rejoice in its accomplishments!”

Levy County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Kristina Zachry, is ready to help support and mentor another YAB member. “I am so proud of the leadership that our Levy SWAT members continue to show, both locally and at the statewide level,” Kristina says. “I know that Emily will do a great job of representing Levy County and I look forward to working with her in the future to further develop the Levy County SWAT program.”

For more information on SWAT, contact Kristina Zachry, Levy County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, at kzachry@quitdoc.com.