GREAT FALLS - Cars heading north on Bootlegger Trail outside of Great Falls are getting the message about meth.
In May, CMR High School graduate Adam Arthur saw registration information for the Montana Meth Project’s "Paint The State" contest.
“I really only got started painting on this beginning of last week, and it just kind of went together pretty fast,” said Adam Arthur.
Knowing he wanted to do something intricate but on a big scale, he drew inspiration from a box of bison bones.
“Bones are very small shapes, very fine, but they make up something very big. Sort parts of a whole,” said Arthur.
The soon-to-be MSU student who plans to major in biochemistry thought about incorporating fire and the finished product depicts a bison skeleton engulfed in flames.
“Amphetamines are a stimulant that produces oxidation in the body, similar to actual fire. In fact, it's many of the same chemical processes,” said Arthur. “So the idea of a living creature being consumed by flame just sort of came to me.”
Since 2005, the Montana Meth Project has used public service announcements and community outreach to reduce first-time teen meth use.
In 2006, the organization started its “Paint The State” program and since then thousands of Montana teens have used not only billboards but barns and buildings, fields and fences, and more to help drive home the point.
Adam says he’s always aware of the messages, but really hit home when he painted his billboard.
“Really working on this project was the most effective of the things to do with the Montana Meth Project that I've run into,” said Arthur. “Just really sitting, working on this and thinking about it and thinking about meth and meth addiction. And the terrible thing it is, is really the most effective anti-meth Warning that I've ever gotten.”
The organization will award more than $100,000, with three $10,000 grand prizes.
Adam says if wins any money, he’ll put it toward college expenses.
Popular voting runs from July 17 through August 17, 2023, on the Montana Meth Project website.
Regional and statewide judging goes through July and winners will be announced in August.