In 1989, Ms. Wetterling's son Jacob was abducted near their home in St. Joseph. This prompted her and her husband to start the Jacob Wetterling Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to educating parents and children so that children are not molested or exploited and to continue the search for Jacob as well as other abducted children throughout the country.
Children and their parents in the St. Joseph area as well as the rest of the country are the recipients of an educational program that promotes the safety of children in their own hometowns. Ms. Wetterling has a long and impressive list of accomplishments. In 1992, she convinced the Minnesota Legislature to require convicted sex offenders to register their place of residence with local law enforcement after their release from parole. In addition, she was appointed to the Governor's Task Force on Missing Children in 1990. Ms. Wetterling also serves as a trustee and member of the Board of Directors for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and as a charter member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Missing and Exploited Children's Organizations.
Ms. Wetterling also trains law enforcement on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Through the efforts of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation in 1997, three abducted children were returned home, eight were located, but found deceased. The foundation is currently working with 40 families to locate their abducted children.
Funding for the foundation comes from contributions, grants and fund-raisers. The foundation has 120 active volunteers from the community; many are college students. The Jacob Wetterling Foundation is based in St. Joseph, Minnesota. It has not physically expanded, but through Ms. Wetterling's speeches she has raised awareness in communities all over the country.