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Evergreen House to host conference

Evergreen House is preparing for its annual conference, which this year is titled "Tools to Empower Youth Professionals and Parents."

The 2008 conference, the third annual, will be held March 27-28 at First Lutheran Church in downtown Bemidji.

Becky Schueller, the executive director of Evergreen House, said she expects to have about 150 registrants for this year's event.

"We're getting a wider geographic spread every year, more people from outside our immediate area," she said.

Evergreen House runs a shelter, youth recovery house and offers community services. The nonprofit organization strives to support, strengthen and advocate for youth and their families in northern Minnesota. Schueller has been its executive director for the last six-plus years.

The purpose of the conference, according to Evergreen House, is to bring together youth-serving professionals and parents and share information, network and learn about current issues facing youth and families.

All of the conference content this year is new, Schueller said.

"Each year we evaluate the previous year's content," she said, noting that participants always are asked to fill out evaluation forms and make recommendations for future conferences.

Ideas for topics and discussions also come from speakers hosted internally at Evergreen House and from conferences that Evergreen staff have attended.

"We pay attention to the current issues," she said.

There will be three keynote addresses this year, including Antidepressants and Suicide in Young People, Native American Perspectives on Youth Development, and Through a Child's Eyes: What It's Like to be a Child in the Foster Care System.

Other topics include:

E Children and Nutrition: Strategies for Special Needs Kids.

E Ruby Payne's Framework for Understanding Poverty

E Supporting Military Families -- Understanding the Deployment Cycle and its Affect on Children and Families.

E Understanding Juvenile Criminal Records.

E Building Blocks for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

E Green Hair, Gangsters and Goth: Why Does My Kid Look This Way?

E Behavior Management Strategies with Special Needs Kids (ADD, ADHD, etc.)

E How to Build Positive Relationships with Kids.

E Alcohol/Drug Use and Gambling - How to Effectively Intervene When Youth Have Problems.

E What's Really Happening with youth Alcohol and Drug Use - Review of 2007 Minnesota Student Survey Data; to be followed by A Prevention Framework for Communities.

There also will be time set aside for a Special Parents Workshop, to be held from 4-8 p.m. Thursday.

It features three sessions - The Three Pillars of Parenting: Love, teaching and Positive Discipline; Understanding Youth Addiction and How to Effectively Intervene; and Green Hair, Gangster and Goth: Why Does my Kid Look This Way? Participation requires a separate registration from the conference and costs $25.

"It was designed specifically to allow working parents to attend," Schueller said.

This year there also will be planned events to facilitate networking between conference attendees, Schueller said.

For example, the lunch break Friday will be a Networking Lunch where attendees may sit at tables posted with topics to encourage discussion and interaction.

"Often, the benefits (participants) get from training comes out of the people they meet," Schueller said. "We wanted to promote that cross-training and learning in a formal setting."

Registration for the conference is $25 through March 14; after that date the cost will be $50 to attend. For more information or for registration documents, go online to Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact Brad Godwin, the conference registrar, at 751-8223.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Drug-Free Coalition of North Central Minnesota and the Bemidji State University Social Work Program, which is also offering 10.75 Continuing Education Units for participants (CEUs are not available for the parents workshop).