(This article was originally posted on March 29, 2018 on nylc.org.)
Thanks to all of you who joined us in balmy St. Paul for the 29th Annual National Service-Learning Conference March 11-13! We’ve been awash in reflections as we hear the news you’re making putting justice into action, planning for change, advocating — in short, making history.
Thanks both to participants and to the amazing volunteers, partners, and sponsors who supported #SLC18. You all make this possible!
More than 500 people of all ages and geographies gathered to share stories, scheme, and learn the latest. The conference was a packed three days of powerful speakers, innovative sessions, and meaningful service — kick-started by a two-day Educators’ Institute at the nearby Science Museum.
So, let’s reflect.
Day 1 (Sun.) We have yet to hear of one daylight savings time mishap, despite the conference beginning on Sunday, concurrent with the time change. Service-learners are prepared! New to the conference this year were sessions first, plenary midday.
At the plenary, youth in action took center stage, with 13-year-old Caleb Chung of Colorado explaining the inspiration behind his marathons to raise funding for access to potable water; Merrit Jones urging us to “amplify, accelerate, and aggregate” the impact of our work; Nicodemus Madehdou explaining his innovative tech start-up JumpButton Studio that has a public purpose; and ever-young Barry Guillot — a teacher from New Orleans — describing the latest chapter of his Wetlands Watchers Park. All this, capped off by a youth panel with moderators Ricky Yoo, a member of NTLC’s Youth Advisory Council and NYLC’s Professional Development Director Elizabeth Koenig.
More sessions followed, featuring a Gathering of Elders with McClellan Hall of the National Indian Youth Leadership Project moderating, and including educators Josie Johnson, Daniel Abebe, Jim Kielsmeier, Abdisalam Adams, Rose Chu, and Ramon Pastrono sharing their wisdom teachings.
Day 2 (Mon.) By the second day, workshop sessions were in full swing, including panel discussions that featured peace-building and social and emotional learning’s role in service-learning.
We feasted midday while celebrating the 2018 Service-Learning Award-Winners: Alec Dickson award-winner professor Barb Witteman; an illustrious crowd of young people from Utah who developed a STEM curriculum called “The Incredible Machine”; Katrina Weimholt of Northwestern University’s Center for Civic Engagement; and Nan Peterson of the Blake School.
Day 3 (Tues.) Fresh off the dance floor of the Youth Room Mon., evening, participants boarded buses for the Day of Service, heading out to the YMCA’s new Equity Innovation Center, the Arc Minnesota sites that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families; and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Education and Visitor Center. Service-learners discovered, sorted, labeled, photographed, and created across the metro area, linking their actions and contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Here’s to 2030, when we aim to have conquered all 17 goal areas!
That was so much fun, let’s do it again next year!
Save April 10-13, 2019
for the 30th Annual National Service-Learning Conference
in Washington, D.C.
(We promise real spring there!)