Top Ten Reasons to Present at Educate. Ignite. Transform.

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From James Toole, Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota and President of Compass Institute.


In 1990 my wife Pamela and I joined a small classroom of people attending the very first National Service-Learning Conference®. To this day I gratefully remember how presenters like Jim Kielsmeier and Cynthia Parsons opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about education. Inspired, I’ve presented at every National Service-Learning Conference since and found new adventures, friendship, and learning on an annual basis. Here are 10 reasons why YOU should “apply to present at the 27th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, Educate. Ignite. Transform.

  1. Leadership: To reach a tipping point in American education, the service-learning field needs to be “leaderful.” We need many novas (bright stars) to thrive.
  2. Service: Presenting at the National Service-Learning Conference is an act of service. In an era of open-source innovation, we are hungry to gather everyone’s insights and experiences. What is routine for you may be the key insight to propel a peer forward!
  3. Skills: I’ve had some exhilarating presentations and some we won’t discuss! But whatever the outcome, I always walked away with new insights about how to better manage that magical space between presenters and participants where inspiration and deep change can occur.
  4. Reflection: Presenting at the conference offers an excuse to reflect upon, rethink, and update your theory and practice for not only better education, but a better world.
  5. Inspiration: It has been said that great audiences make great speakers. When you present at the National Service-Learning Conference, you are inspired by speaking to people from all over the United States and several international locations.
  6. Visibility: If you want to be a saint, your motto might be: “To do, to dare, and to be silent.” But if you want support for your work, you’ll need to be more public about what you do. Presenting at the conference can increase your credibility back home.
  7. Transformation: Think about bringing your students/ youth or a colleague to present with you. It might be life-changing for your team!
  8. Assessment: How do you figure out whether what you are doing is unique and/or worthwhile? We all need to test our ideas and practice in front of a knowledgeable and critical audience. What better place is there than the National Service-Learning Conference?
  9. Community: Research shows that today’s successful educators are invariably members of some type of formal or informal professional learning community. Hint: the National Service-Learning Conference is a 1500-person PLC!
  10. Economy: Adult presenters receive a lower registration fee for the whole conference.