This year’s Meeting of the Minds conference in Kansas City had an air of gratitude and celebration. After years of persevering through the pandemic, determining whether or not to have the conference, changing up the format, finding a way forward online, or gathering with safety protocols in place, we have fully found our way back to one another in person, smiles showing.
Given that this conference is attended by prevention professionals, many of whom serve in higher education, it doesn’t seem surprising that attendees gave particularly strong positive feedback on sessions focused on handling burnout, practicing self-care/self-awareness, and meditation/mindfulness.
As staff, we are listening to this feedback, knowing that so many of those at the conference have been particularly impacted by the long-haul stressors of the past several years. We are planning to pursue more spaces and conversations that provide opportunities for participants to decompress, find community, and connect back to the “why” behind the work!
The recent legalization of cannabis in Missouri made for well-attended sessions around this particular substance. We are so grateful to experts in the fields of research, medicine, law enforcement, prevention, and more for their important findings and conversations. As we continue to pursue efforts to reduce harmful cannabis messaging and behavior this will likely be an important topic at future conferences.
Both during general sessions and at topic-focused lunch roundtables, conference attendees were able to enjoy multiple networking opportunities. Meeting of the Minds is one of the most important opportunities we have all year to gather with new colleagues or connect with past ones who are doing similar important work on their campuses. As a staff, one of our favorite things each year is to see how individual and campus efforts are exponentially benefitting from these collaborative experiences.
This year’s conference was attended by 320 individuals ranging from students to professionals nearing the end of their careers. In addition, we were able to offer around 50 scholarships for a variety of professionals to attend the conference, extending this opportunity for even more people to gather! As always, we are so grateful for the presence of those in law enforcement and the partnership with the Central College Health Association which sponsored our Health and Well-Being session track.
And last (but certainly not least!) after many years of holding the conference in the Kansas City area, next year’s event will be in St. Louis on April 4th, 5th, and 6th. We are excited about the ways this shift in location may help more campuses and professionals attend from the east side of the state.
As always, Meeting of the Minds is a labor of love for not only the staff who organize it but, also a reflection of the labor of love that each attendee is doing on a regular basis in their own spheres of influence. Thank you to each of you who attended, and we are excited to see you next year in The Lou!
April 26, 2023. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. www.annerulo.com. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo