San Diego State University and the Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) will build a lasting partnership that can support community-based tobacco-related research. Imperial Valley Youth for a Tobacco-Free Environment will build on CCV’s successful Youth Environmental Health Internship (YEHI) program for high school students who will investigate tobacco-related concerns of their communities and share results of their investigations with state and local decision-makers.

Project funded by: California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

Principal investigator: Lydia Greiner, DrPH, APRN (Academic PI) & Luis Olmedo (Community PI)

This project is building a long-term partnership between San Diego State University (SDSU) and Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) to support tobacco-related research. The research will look at questions developed by communities in Imperial County, a rural county on the southern CA border.

The project will involve residents in the research using an approach called “community science”. CCV has successfully used community science to look at problems such as air quality at a county level. We will build on that experience to involve community residents in research projects that investigate tobacco-related concerns of neighborhoods or communities. Community residents will be involved in all aspects of the research.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will the project accomplish?
1. Create a lasting partnership that will support community-based participatory research.
2. Identify effective strategies to involve residents in planning and conducting research to investigate tobacco-related problems they are concerned about.
3. Share results of community science projects with decision-makers to change rules and policies in neighborhoods and communities.
How will community residents be involved in this project?
There are several ways community residents will be involved. The Community Advisory Board, made up of Imperial County residents with an interest in tobacco and the environment, will help us identify and prioritize tobacco-related concerns. High school students will lead the investigation of these concerns, using a community science approach.
How will high school students do “community science”?
We will use the community science approach with CCV’s Youth Environmental Health Internship (YEHI) program, a one-semester program for high school students. Each semester, the group of students will work with CCV and SDSU staff and faculty to plan and carry out tobacco-related research projects to address concerns identified by the community. To answer their research questions, students will collect survey data and environmental and/or biological samples to measure direct evidence of the toxic impact of tobacco in the environment; analyze the data; and use the results to prepare messages for the community and reports for local officials to try to influence policy.
How can high school students get involved?
CCV’s Youth Environmental Health Internship Program (YEHI) is open to high school students in Imperial County. In Spring, 2021, the program will be entirely online, due to COVID-19 restrictions. We plan to resume an in-person program in the 2021-2022 school year. Applications are accepted in the fall and spring for the 10 week-program. For more information about applying, contact us here.
How can I learn more about CCV and the YEHI program?
Comite Civico Del Valle pioneered a program called the Youth Environmental Health Internship in partnership with Tracking California, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The internship prepares high school students around Imperial County to become the next leaders in environmental health. Interns in the YEHI program learn about air quality, advocacy, environmental justice, and the policymaking process. Learn more on YEHI’s webpage.