December 20, 2020

DHS Junior Ellie Luzum was recently named to the Executive Council of ISTEP (Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention). The Executive Council is youth-led and adult supervised by Iowa Department of Public Health staff.

In all of Iowa’s 99 counties, Community Partnerships exist to work with the ISTEP chapter advisors, youth, and communities across the state on tobacco use prevention and control efforts. Tessa Willie, Director of Prevention Services at Helping Services for Youth and Families, works monthly with Decorah High School’s organization named TAATU (Teens Against Alcohol and Tobacco Use). 

“Tessa provides such helpful guidance to TAATU, which we combined with our other service organization Community Club several years ago,” shared advisor Liz Fox. “She encourages leadership and helps the group brainstorm on ways to spread awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, especially vaping.”  With the support of ISTEP, the students learn ways to challenge Big Tobacco’s efforts through street marketing events and educational activities. Throughout the years the group has shared information through posters, stickers on milk cartons and on popcorn bags at athletic contests, and through events during Red Ribbon Week including Chalk the Walk at both the middle school and high school and creating informative games played during homeroom.  Members of the group have also spoken at city council meetings to encourage tobacco-free parks. 

“Ellie has shown enthusiasm for our mission since our first meeting,” said Fox. I’m thrilled she took it upon herself to apply for membership on the executive council. Our organization includes an number of outstanding senior leaders, and Ellie’s leadership at the state level will be even more helpful in reaching our goals.”

Luzum remarked, “Not only is the information I’ve learned interesting, but the whole environment the council forms has been rewarding. It has been so much fun bonding via Zoom with the other council members.”

More information about ISTEP can be found at  Information about Decorah’s involvement can be found on their Facebook page at

Ellie Luzum named to ISTEP Executive Council