13th Annual Evergreen Youth Conference Kicks Off At Bemidji’s Sanford Center
The Evergreen Youth Conference made a return to the Sanford Center in Bemidji. This year, about 400 people are expected to attend.
“We like to host this in Bemidji because I think for a lot of people in this line of work, they often go to Minneapolis or they often go to places like St. Cloud for something like this, and it gives them an opportunity to see a different part of the state,” says Dan McKeon, the executive director of Evergreen Youth and Family Services.
The day started with a packed house of professionals eager to learn about more ways to help our youth.
“What we try to do is reach across the state, and even outside the state of Minnesota, to individuals and agencies that work with youth and families. That type of work is becoming – it’s always been a big need, but it’s becoming more and more complicated by lots of different issues, one of which would be the opioid epidemic,” says McKeon.
This year’s keynote speaker was Ken Winters, Ph.D. He spoke about the affects of marijuana usage in teens.
“I focused on three things. One is on the potential to get addicted to the drug, which looks to be elevated if you start using as a teenager. Second impact was on cognitive functioning, particularly memory and general intelligence,” says Winters, “And the third was mental health and how the importance of staying away from marijuana if you already are at risk for a mental illness.”
This year, there were more than 20 booths from agencies all over the state, not to mention breakout sessions. The Evergreen Conference wrapped day one up at 5 in the afternoon today, but the event will be back tomorrow.
“The planning process for this event is a full-year process, so as soon as this one’s done, we’ll start talking about how it’s going to look for next year,” says McKeon.
The conference will start back up again at 9 in the morning at the Sanford Center. It will go until 3:30 in the afternoon.