Contributed by Rosie Wilson-Briggs, Program Manager, Environmental Science Center
When I boarded the plane for the 2022 National Service-Learning Conference, I didn’t know what to expect from the experience awaiting me in Minneapolis. I had never been to a conference of this size, and while I was specifically planning to share about our youth service-learning program, this was a relatively small part of my organization’s work. I had no idea the scale and diversity of programs I was going to learn about.
The three days of the conference were packed with fascinating presentations from educators and organizations from all around the country, sharing about their own service-learning programs and projects.
The highlight of the conference for me was the youth who shared their own experiences. One of the largest and most memorable presentations was a group of 4th graders who had curated a “museum” of indigenous art and artifacts, with the youth themselves there to answer questions. These students were astonishingly knowledgeable, engaging, and confident in their work and themselves. They had clearly gotten so much out of the program, and their energy was infectious.
In just a few minutes talking with them, all fatigue from the long conference days was forgotten. I was re-inspired and re-committed to the idea and practice of service learning. These students, and the other youth in attendance, were the best evidence I saw that what we were doing was deeply meaningful and worth-while. There were of course many other incredible moments at the conference, but the youth alone were worth the plane trip.
To view more photos from the 33rd Annual National Service-Learning Conference in Minneapolis, MN, please click this link.