News Masthead


June 15, 2010 11:05 AM

Contact: Brian Sansoni, 202-662-2517 (office)/ 202-680-9327 (mobile) or via email at

Montana Students Receive National Award for "Operation Germ Destruction"

  • Forsyth Students Earn "Healthy Schools, Healthy People" Top Classroom Award
  • Recognized for Hand Hygiene Education Efforts by CDC, American Cleaning Institute

SNAP2010WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2010 – Students in Forsyth, Montana decided to teach their peers a lesson – about the importance of hand washing. Those efforts led to national recognition from the "Healthy Schools, Healthy People: It’s a SNAP" program (, which promotes hand hygiene education nationwide.

SNAP – the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention – is a project of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Cleaning InstituteSM (formerly The Soap and Detergent Association - SDA). Two students from Forsyth High School were recognized at a special ceremony in Washington, DC, where they also visited the offices of U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg (D-MT) .

McKenzie Sargent and Shannon Seleg, then ninth-graders, decided to base their Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter project on hand washing after seeing that students’ hand hygiene efforts could stand some improvement.

The students created a program they called "Operation Germ Destruction." They developed detailed lesson plans and obtained a grant from the county health department to purchase supplies to assist them in their education efforts.

McKenzie and Shannon gave presentations on the importance of hand washing to elementary and junior high school students and teachers. They also placed articles in local newspapers and school publications to reinforce the public health benefits of proper hand hygiene.

"It was exciting to watch my FCCLA chapter members take the hand washing topic and create an energetic project that affected our students, as well as community members, organizations and parents," said Kim Knoche, the students’ Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and the school’s FCCLA adviser. The students’ efforts received a gold medal at a state-level FCCLA event.

Teachers can visit the SNAP website – – for information on how to participate in the program. Hand hygiene education materials that can be downloaded at no cost are also available on the website.

Nancy Bock, ACI Vice President of Consumer Education, encourages schools to continue good hand hygiene practices when school starts in the fall.

"The H1N1 pandemic reinforced the importance of good hand hygiene, and our top recipient has proven that peer to peer education is a great way to get students involved in encouraging hand hygiene practices," said Bock.


American Cleaning Institute (formerly The Soap and Detergent Association,, is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry®, and represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market. ACI members include the formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and oleochemical producers. ACI and its members are dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices.