Amongst a crowd of more than 250, four Murray State University faculty and staff made their presentations at the 2013 Gulf South Summit. The conference, hosted Feb. 27, 28 and March 1, 2013, brought educators, advocates and practitioners together from Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and many more states. Sessions enlightened attendees to the benefits of service learning in the college setting, outreach into K-12 systems and how to engage universities in projects with the highest potential impact for the community.
Keynote speakers like Kentucky author and activist Silas House empowered conference goers to use art in their quest for deeper service learning and civic engagement at their university and across their community. Included in the list of presenters were MSU staff members Gina Winchester, Jennifer Revell, Rebecca Feldhaus and MSU Faculty member Aaron Dail.
Dail, both adjunct professor and executive director of the United Way of Murray-Calloway County, presented on the new GetConnected volunteer tracking website. Along with Winchester, executive director of the Office of Regional Outreach, and Jennifer Revell, coordinator of service outreach, the team demonstrated the user-friendly online system that connects volunteers to the organizations they want to assist. The system also helps in the tracking of volunteer hours and reporting of needs met for individuals as well as the organizations involved. With a live demonstration, students faculty and staff from a range of universities learned about a system that could positively impact their own work in service learning.
Rebecca Feldhaus, coordinator of regional outreach, conducted a solo presentation on the K12CONNECT program that she coordinates with Dr. Randy Dunn. The philosophy behind the program served as the focus of the presentation. With an audience that included one of the executive directors of the summit among others, Feldhaus discussed K12CONNECT’s goals to work with schools in partnership for the largest impact, rather than dictating to schools what’s best for them. By asking the right questions, listening to the answers and then acting on the feedback, Feldhaus said the potential for meaningful programming is endless.
Winchester said attendance at the 2013 Gulf South Summit was a benefit to all involved.
“The Gulf South Summit provided an opportunity to network with educational professionals across the nation and share best practices on how we are preparing our students to lead civic-minded lives,” she said. “As presenters for two breakout sessions, we were able to showcase the work of Regional Outreach and K12CONNECT and the impact it is having on students in west Kentucky. We received positive feedback from the attendees and were able to engage in discussions that lead to development of ideas for future work.”
The 2014 Gulf South Summit will be held at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.