August 24

Internet Safety Tips – by Will, MN DARE Youth Advisor


MN DARE Youth Blog

by Will

     The Internet: it is something in today’s world that one cannot escape. It is used for nearly everything– communicating, shopping, sharing photos, news, research, and countless other activities. As a matter of fact, you are most likely reading this on the internet right now. As the internet is an everyday tool that nearly everybody uses, it’s easy to forget that it is not always as secure or safe as you would hope. A hacker could obtain your personal information from your doing something as simple as clicking on an ad or sharing a photo online. Don’t get me wrong- this isn’t possible with every photo or ad, but there are specific things that you should avoid doing while using the World-Wide-Web that will help you to stay safe in the digital realm.


     The first step in staying safe online is securing your web accounts with a strong password. According to the FBI, you should change your online passwords several times a year, and you should also have different passwords for different accounts. This will prevent a cyber criminal from guessing your password and accessing your information. Some sites offer two-factor authentication (TFA), which is additional security that goes beyond just using a password and incorporates requirements such as using an additional PIN that changes periodically, or even only allowing a login at a particular place or time. If you have the option to use TFA, do it. Once your password is secure, it is a lot harder for hackers to gain access to personal information.   


     The next step in being safe on the internet is watching what you post on social media. Once something is posted online, it is no longer considered private and can be used for criminal purposes. Even if you think nobody but your friends is going to see a post or you have a private account, it is best not to post something if it is risky or contains personal information.  Also refrain from using foul language or posting something that might be inappropriate or offensive. Hackers don’t care about this, but future employers do. If they see something that they don’t like, the employers might not hire you for a job that you otherwise might have gotten. When you put something up on the internet, it never goes away, even if you delete it, so be careful. 


     One more thing you should watch out for is online scams. Pop up ads, links, or giveaways are often ways criminals use hack or infiltrate your device. They could be telling you to fill out a survey for an entry to win a free vacation when actually they are just stealing your information. Ads that seem too good to be true are probably too good to be true.  Nobody is actually selling brand new Ray Bans for $15. It is another scam to possibly get your credit card number. 


     Online chat rooms also attract criminals. Child predators can pose as kids and talk to you through a fake name and photo. Watch out for this. Do not share any personal information about yourself on chatrooms with strangers, even if you think the people you are chatting with are just harmless kids.  Serious predators can use your information to track you down and find you in real life.  Your best bet is to simply stay out of websites or apps that allow you to communicate anonymously with strangers. 


     All of these points can make the Internet seem like a scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be an extremely helpful tool when used safely and securely. Be cautious when using social media and remember that once you post something, it is no longer private and will never go away.  Beware of cyber-criminals and the scams they put online. Secure your accounts, don’t give away your personal information, and listen to your gut while surfing. If you follow these steps, you should be able to freely roam the web while being fairly confident that you are safe. 

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April 19

2017 Minnesota DARE Poster Contest

Minnesota D.A.R.E. Announces 2017 Statewide Poster Contest Winners

Golden Valley, MN—Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. would like to announce the 2017 Poster Contest winners. The first place winner will be throwing out the opening pitch at the Minnesota Twins Game on May 7, 2017. This year’s winning poster belonged to Ben in Stewardville, MN.  His DARE Officer is Deputy Mark Chambers.

This year’s theme was “D.A.R.E. To Be A Leader.” The contest was open for 5th or 6th grade D.A.R.E. students, statewide.

Minnesota D.A.R.E., Inc. received entries from all around Minnesota. The top entries will receive special DARE prizes. These winning posters will be put on display at the State Capitol in the North Corridor the week of April 24th and will be posted on – Kid’s Blog and Minnesota D.A.R.E.’s Facebook page in the future.

Minnesota D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a prevention and education program that advocates and educates for healthy and safe children. D.A.R.E. serves young people and their families teaching the skills to make positive decisions, provides education on safe and healthy lifestyles and gives the tools to enable them to resist engaging in negative and violent behaviors. Over 25 million students have been reached worldwide and over 60,000 Minnesota students receive instruction annually.

2017 First Place Winning Poster:

Ben H.  (Stewardville) – Taught by: Deputy Mark Chambers – Olmsted Co. Sheriff’s Office

2017 Winning Poster

2017 Winning Posters


1 – Ben H. – Olmsted Co SO (Stewardville) – Officer Chambers

2- Meredith H. – Olmsted Co. SO (Byron ) – Officer Strum
3- Malakai W. – Bemidji PD – Officer Hunt
4- Olivia T. – Bemidji PD – Officer Hunt
5- Savannah T. – New Hope PD – Officer Korth

6- Charley N. – Moorhead PD (Reinerstson) – Officer Dahl

7- Alexis F. – Rice Co. SO (St. Dominic’s) – Officer Estrem
8- Charlese W. – Olmsted Co. SO (Byron) – Officer Strum
9- Alma Q. – New Hope PD – Officer Korth

10- Ellie C. – Chatfield PD – Officer Landorf
11 –Jonnae S. New Hope PD – Officer Korth

12- Erainne D. – Bemidji PD – Officer Hunt
13- Tyler S. – Olmsted Co. SO (Eyota) – Officer Johnson

14- MayAnne R. – Benton Co. SO (Foley) – Officer Dalton
15- Alexis W – Olmsted Co SO. (Dover) – Officer Johnson

16- Will H. – New Hope PD – Officer Korth
17- Abby S. – Kasson PD – Officer Kasel

18 – Audrey H. – McLeod Co. SO – Officer Geiken

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March 13

Consequences (by Will – MN DARE Youth Rep.)



I heard an interesting segment on the radio a while back.  It said that everybody when they are young does something that he or she is told not to do out of sheer curiosity.  For example, sticking your tongue to a frozen pole in the winter.  They find out that their tongue sticks, and it hurts when they rip it off the pole.  They saw for themselves the reasons why people had forewarned them about it.  Now, imagine that you stick your tongue to that pole but it never comes off.  It controls every aspect of your life and you cannot get away from it; you’re stuck.  For some people, drugs and alcohol are that pole.  They are told not to do it, but do it anyway.  But the consequences for using substances are a lot worse.

My name is Will Durie.  I am the new DARE youth representative for my state, Minnesota, where I have lived all my life.  I am a sophomore at Hibbing High School.  I play baseball and basketball, run cross country, participate in math team and knowledge bowl, and sing in the choir.

I became involved in DARE in elementary school, like most 3rd-6th grades in America.  It was my first real education about substance and abuse.  DARE taught me how to deal with stressful situations and was a tool that I used when I was in a position where I felt uncomfortable.  During my time as the DARE youth representative, I will be writing on a range of topics for the DARE blog.


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December 24

What Does Christmas Mean to You?


“Maybe Christmas,” the Grinch thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.”  — Dr. Suess

You will not always remember the gifts and the big meals served but what about the love and kindness shown?  What about the friends and the family gathered?

Stop and breathe.

Stop and think before you speak.

Ask yourself if you are choosing love in the way you speak or react; or are you using power and manipulation.

Think about the actual message your words, tone, body language, and actions are sending.  This includes your social media messages.

Are you spreading negative or positive energy with your words and actions?

Make the holidays about giving and not receiving.

Give with love and enjoy giving.

Get into the “present” moment.  The past cannot be changed and if you are so into the future, you will miss this moment.


Have fun.

Find the joy in the holidays.

Really think about how YOU can create PEACE ON EARTH.


Happy Holidays!

Minnesota D.A.R.E.

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December 12

Never Dared to Try




(Photo: Sartell D.A.R.E. students – 2015)

Never Dared to Try

All my life I always watched

But never dare to try

Watched my friends sneak out at night

But never dared to try

Watched them drink at parties

But never dared to try

Watched them drive home drunk

Because I never dared to try

Never dared to stop them, or take away their keys.

Now I am here to live my life and they have passed away

All because I was afraid and never dared to try.


 This D.A.R.E. essay was submitted to Minnesota D.A.R.E.   It was written by a former Minnesota D.A.R.E. student.


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December 6

Using My Past to Help the Future



Photo: New Hope D.A.R.E 2015

When my youngest son was in second grade, I went to his school conference, and his teacher and I some how got to talking about what I do for a living.  When I told her I was the director of Minnesota D.A.R.E., her face lit up.  She went on to tell me that D.A.R.E. helped her make the decision to go into teaching.  She explained that she came from a family that some problems with drugs and alcohol.  She made the conscious decision not to follow that path.  In high school, she was asked to be a D.A.R.E. role model (these are high school students who go back to the elementary schools, with their D.A.R.E. officer, to talk about the importance of making good decisions).  This decision to become a D.A.R.E. role model was for her; it helped her to decide to go to college to be a teacher.  She went on to explain that she had written a short paper on this decision.  She told me she still had this paper and forwarded it to me.  Her former D.A.R.E. officer was still teaching and I was able to share this with him.  He had no idea he had helped me a difference in this student/teacher’s life.  His work, trying to make a difference in a child’s life, helped her make a difference in many other children’s lives.

Here is her story:

Using My Past to Help the Future

As Deputy Kantos pulled up to the sidewalk, I felt, as a senior, a little apprehensive, sad, and very excited.  This was my last day as a D.A.R.E. role model.  It did not seem possible that over three years had passed since my first experiences with the D.A.R.E. program.

I began my work as a D.A.R.E. role model during my sophomore year in high school.  I was just starting to become more involved in surrounding activities; volleyball, softball, Student Council, and Captains and Leaders (an organization consisting of captains and presidents, dealing with school policy issues).  I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with children, as a role model, but beyond that I was flattered.

Every couple of months, a group of six high school students traveled to some of the elementary schools in the area.  Our mission was to share some of our experiences with drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and adjusting to the junior and senior high schools.  We also, on occasion, were able to teach a lesson on the negative aspects of drugs and alcohol.

Not only did we teach the kids, but they taught us.  I learned more about myself in the few hours a month I spent in the elementary schools than I did in all of my high school classes combined.  I also learned a tremendous amount about elementary kids.  One thing that has always stuck in my mind when reflecting on my D.A.R.E. experience is how much these kids love to learn.  They were eager to ask questions and listened thoughtfully to the answers.  I learned that at this age, kids are proud of what they know and what they can achieve.  I found this to be refreshing after spending all day with high school students.

As a teacher, I look forward to the exchange of knowledge with my students.  I am consistent yet compassionate, creative and patient.  I want to be a part of making kids proud of their knowledge and encouraging them to take this pride on their journey of life.

As deputy Kantos pulled away from the sidewalk, I looked on with a feeling of accomplishment.  For three years, I had been making a difference in the lives of many children and they had been doing the same for me.



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November 2

Choose Kindness



Choosing the path of  kindness can help break down barriers around people.  It can empower those who are afraid.  Quiet those who are angry.  Use it to reach out to the lonely.  Give hope to those who feel hopeless.  Give love to those who feel unlovable.  Draw out those who are shy.  Include those who feel isolated.  Comfort the sad. 

In showing kindness to just one person, it can continue to multiply.  You have the ability to choose kindness in all situations; think about the outcomes, if you were to make that choice.  The world would be different for those around you.  In choosing kindness, you will also be rewarded with inner peace, warmth, and love.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”  — Martin Luther King, Jr.

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October 25

Choose Your Path Wisely


Right Path

There are so many paths in life; you will have to make a lot of choices.  Not everyone will or should be on the same path.  Just following someone else, is not necessarily where you belong. 

You need to make wise decisions; think about the consequences of your choices.  Take time to evaluate your past choices.  Do they feel right to you?  How will they impact the way you want your life to go?  Will you be adding more obstacles to your path?  Who are resources for you along the way?  Are they positive and reliable?  Do they have your best interest in mind?  What are your gifts and talents and how can you use them? 

If you feel you are on the wrong path what changes can you make to get back on the right path?  Who can help you find your way? 

We will all make mistakes along the way.  It is important to recognize them and make the necessary changes. Gather together your necessary support system and your equipment; build up your strengths; pack up your gifts and talents; use your senses; and wisely find the path that is right for you.   

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October 17

All Colors Work Together in Harmony


This time of year, you have to love all of the colors in Minnesota!  Did you ever notice how all of the colors just work together, in perfect harmony, and form an incredibly beautiful world?  It isn’t difficult, it just happens.

Our world is also made up of all kinds of people; we are all different (colors, shapes, sizes, ages, etc.) Together we can also live in harmony.  Why do we make it so difficult?

This school year, Minnesota D.A.R.E.’s  campaign, will be DARE to C.A.R.E.

C.A.R.E. stands for C – Caring,  A – Acceptance, R – Respect, and E – Equality.  These are some steps we can take to reach our goal.

First, we need to care for others.  The definition of care is  to “feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.”  Everyone is important and deserves care.

Acceptance means “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.”  Who are we to judge others as being inadequate or unsuitable?  Be kind to everyone and “accept” others for who they are.  You do not have to love their behaviors but you can still accept the person.  Everyone comes from a different background that helped make them who they are; good or bad.  Listen (with all of your senses) and try to understand.  Everyone is a unique individual with feelings, gifts, and talents too.

To respect someone is a way of treating or thinking about them. If you respect your teacher or your parent, you admire her/him and treat her well.  Everyone wants to be treated with respect.  Everyone (young and old) deserves to be treated with respect.  If you want to get respect, you have to give respect.

Equality means “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”  We are all equal and desire to be treated as such.  For some reason, we seem to get the idea that we are better than others; it makes us feel special.  Treating people equally, respectfully, accepting them, and caring for them will actually make you feel better about yourself too.

Living in harmony with others doesn’t come as easy as the colors of leaves in the fall.  Consider how spending time judging, gossiping, criticizing, trying to control other people can make you miserable too.  Why not trying C.A.R.E. instead?

Kathi Ackerman, MSW, LGSW, LADC

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