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Iowa DARE Officers Association

The I.D.A. (Iowa D.A.R.E. Association) was formed in the late summer of 1989 and had its first training conference for D.A.R.E. officers in the summer of 1990. It is a fraternal organization that includes D.A.R.E. officers, educators and other friends of D.A.R.E. Click HERE for a complete roster of the Iowa DARE Association Board Members and contact information.
The I.D.A. functions include planning and conducting yearly training conferences, preparing and releasing a quarterly newsletter, sending a representative to the National D.A.R.E. Officers Advisory Board and each year selecting a D.A.R.E. Officer, Educator and Volunteer of the Year. The I.D.A. also has a representative on the D.A.R.E. Iowa Board. Place your nominations for D.A.R.E. awards by filling out these forms. All nominations must be received by May 1st of each year for the corresponding year.

Nominations for Essay of the Year: Click HERE
Nominations for Poster of the Year: Click HERE
Nominations for Educator, Volunteer, Life Time Achievement Award: Click HERE

D.A.R.E. to Care: Van Otterloo recognized for commitment to Spencer’s youth

Posted on July 31, 2016 by in Events, Hometown, Iowa, News

Lt. Kyle Van Otterloo with the Spencer Police Department takes a selfie of himself and the pack of runners prior to the start of last year's D.A.R.E. 5K Fun Run. This year's run will be conducted at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, near the boat ramp at West Leach Park. Van Otterloo, who organizes the run, was recently presented with the state's D.A.R.E. Peer Recognition Award.

Next Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., athletes young and old will line up near the boat ramp at West Leach Park to help raise funds for the 2017 graduating D.A.R.E. class and to demonstrate a commitment to stay drug free.

Above: Lt. Kyle Van Otterloo with the Spencer Police Department takes a selfie of himself and the pack of runners prior to the start of last year’s D.A.R.E. 5K Fun Run. This year’s run will be conducted at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, near the boat ramp at West Leach Park. Van Otterloo, who organizes the run, was recently presented with the state’s D.A.R.E. Peer Recognition Award.

The D.A.R.E. 5K Fun Run is in its third year, helping to fund the graduation trip to Arnolds Park for sixth-graders who complete the Spencer Middle School D.A.R.E. curriculum. A free Bicycle Rodeo has been added this year, allowing for kids to receive bicycle safety tips from Spencer Police.

Organizer of the event, Spencer Police Department Lt. Kyle Van Otterloo, the local D.A.R.E. instructor, was recently honored by his peers at the state level with the Peer Recognition Award. The award, which was presented to Van Otterloo at the annual D.A.R.E. Conference in Osage, acknowledges the officer’s dedication and commitment to the local D.A.R.E. program, D.A.R.E. Iowa and the local schools and students.

“It was supposed to be a surprise but I’m on the board so …,” Van Otterloo said. “If I wasn’t on the board it would have been a surprise.”

He continued, calling the honor “humbling. That’s probably the answer everybody wants to give. But it’s probably the best word. … I’m very appreciative of it, but it’s hard to wrap my head around it because I am having fun with it. Making a difference makes it worth it.”

Van Otterloo, who serves as sergeant-at-arms for the Iowa D.A.R.E. Association, was nominated by Lincoln Elementary School teachers Amy Thompson and Abbey Skalla who were on hand at the meeting to present him with the award. Spencer Police Chief Mark Warburton, and fellow Lts. Micah Van Otterloo and Brad Rasmussen also attended.

“It is one of those things where we teach, it’s not rocket science,” Van Otterloo said. “We teach basic stuff, but it’s breaking a wall down between police officers and school age children. We’re no different than anyone else. We just have a job to do.”

While the focus used to be solely on developing a drug free mentality, the D.A.R.E. curriculum has expanded to include other components that preteens and teens face today including bullying, getting out of difficult situations, peer pressures, being a bystander and becoming a good citizen.

“We’ve added a few things into there to help out with the situations they will be going into as young people,” Van Otterloo explained.

For the D.A.R.E. officer, the key to the whole program is the relationships he builds with the students which he believes continues as they grow into adults.

“I tell them never to call me Officer Van Otterloo or Lt. Van Otterloo. I want them to call me Kyle. I’m looking to extend a friendship,” he explained. “That is one of the things I want out of this program and it’s the biggest part of this program — the relationships I now have with the older kids and young adults. We’ve actually had a few incidents where people have been more forthcoming as a result of that relationship. I don’t know if that’s because of the relationships we’ve built. But it doesn’t hurt. I’m looking to establish a friendship.”

Part of building that bond is offering the fun day at Arnolds Park for the program graduates.

“Three years ago,I realized that we should start raising money to get the kids to Arnolds Park. Every year the graduating kids’ class, the police department pays for the kids to go the park and pays for the transportation to get them to the park,” Van Otterloo explained. “At the time, I was participating in a lot of 5K runs and that’s where this came from.”

Last year, a good group of cross country runners participated in the run, and this year, Van Otterloo is encouraging them to return along with Spencer football and volleyball athletes, along with alumni, parents and competitors of all ages.

Participants in the D.A.R.E. 5K Fun Run can register the day of the run. Donation is $20 for adults and $10 for youth. There will be sausage sandwiches served, along with slushes, fruit, drinks and more.

“Any sports kids involved at Spencer can come out and show their classmates they want to stay drug free by participating in this,” Van Otterloo encouraged.

Between 125 and 135 kids graduate from the D.A.R.E. program in Spencer each year. The park charges $10 per student and the school district has provided the bus at no cost.

“The community support for this run has been huge and we hope it only continues to grow,” he said.