Nebraska Afterschool Conference

February 25, 2022

CHI Health Center
Omaha, Nebraska

Two options to join the conference

  1. In-person (Subject to latest COVID-19 gathering restrictions) or
  2. Virtual Connection

GetConnected registration

The GetConnected 2021 Nebraska Afterschool Conference provides an opportunity to learn more about planning and implementing a quality afterschool or summer program. Sessions offered throughout the day target a variety of audiences including program leaders, program staff, teachers, school administrators, community partners, and others interested in afterschool and summer learning opportunities for children and youth.

This year’s conference themes include:2019 Conference Photos

Full-Service Community Schools
Innovative Programming
Academic Support
Environment Education
Equity and Inclusion
Emotional Health and Wellness

This year’s conference will include a strand for school administrators who can attend at no charge. We will be following all national, state and local health department guidelines to keep participants healthy. We will provide all participants with a mask upon their arrival and will recommend everyone wear a mask.

Tony Smith is the CEO and founder of Whyspeople, providing strategic advising and executive coaching to leaders working to create thriving communities. Most recently Tony served as the Illinois State Superintendent of Education. Prior to serving in that role he was the Executive Director of the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation funding early childhood, youth development, and education.

Tony has served in leadership roles in the non-profit, higher education, and public pk-12 district sectors including as Superintendent in Emeryville and Oakland, Ca. He earned a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley.

Tony is committed to creating healthy public systems that fully develop the whole child, whole school, and whole community. He measures his work by the increase in fair access to quality, the increase in student and adult belongingness, and the increase in equitable student outcomes that improve economic and civic well-being in the community.


7:45 AM to 8:30 AM – Breakfast and Networking/Visit Partner Spotlight display tables

8:30 AM to 9:50 AM  – Opening session

  • Welcome and announcements
  • Keynote speaker: Tony Smith
  • Comments from state and national leaders including MOTT and Nebraska’s Commissioner of Education

10:15 AM to 11:05 AM – Workshop I

11:15 AM to 12:05 AM – Workshop II

12:05 AM to 12:30 PM – Networking/Visit Partner Spotlight display tables

12:30 PM to 1:50 PM – Lunch and featured speaker

  • Recognition of years of service
  • Quick pitches from Youth Marketplace

1:50 PM to 2:30 PM – Networking/Visit Youth Marketplace

2:30 PM to 3:20 PM – Workshop III

3:20 PM to 4:00 PM – Networking Event in the Youth Marketplace

  • Food and Music
  • Door Prizes (must be present to win)


* Bolded events will be streaming live for virtual participants


Outdoor Classroom Workshop
Outdoor Classroom Educator Workshop is for educators who work with students of any age or grade level. This new specialty workshop will help participants learn how to design and utilize an outdoor classroom. Receive native plant recommendations, learn best practices for teaching outdoors, and activity recommendations – just in time for fun in the sun!
Presenter: Jack Hilgert

Do What You Gotta Do: Recover from the Pandemic by Shaping Planning & Evaluation Tools to Fit Your Site
Every year there are new requirements for your work, but are all the tools and requirements helping your program thrive? Join a discussion with Lane Carr, NDE’s Director of Accountability, and Emily Koopmann, Former Full-Service Community School Director turned Executive Director about taking the reins and making requirements work for you and your students.
Presenters: Lane Carr & Emily Koopmann

Community Cafe Approach – Authentic and Intentional Parent, Caretaker, Community Engagement
Come experience a Community Cafe teaser! We will be engaging in intentional conversations about the Cafe Approach, learning alongside current parent hosts about their experiences and the impact Cafes have had in their neighborhoods, and discovering together how this approach could be offered in your community.
Presenters: Lindsay Limbach & Kaitlin Roselius

Emerging Models:  Using High School and College Students to Support Programs
Presenters: Patricia Sanchez-Stewart & Jeff Cole


Beyond the Box: An Interactive Exhibit Centering Black Voices and Promoting Career Exploration and Belonging in Agriculture and Natural Resource Fields
In this session, we will introduce a hands-on exhibit that leverages Museum-in-a-Box technology to highlight the experiences of Black scientists in agriculture and natural resource fields and encourages career exploration and a sense of belonging. Details will be provided on how to gain access to the exhibit for your site and ideas for how to integrate the box into afterschool programming.
Presenters: Erin Ingram & Peyton Bishop

Building a Bigger Table: Equity and Inclusivity in Community Engagement
We live and work in beautifully diverse communities but many times our programming, outreach, and leadership don’t reflect all of the people we serve. While diversity has become one of the buzz words of the decade, creating true equity and inclusion is key to a welcoming and effective educational environment as well as forming committees that really make a difference at the school and local level. In this workshop, we’ll dive into the ways we can turn power structures upside down and create a big “Table” with multiple, diverse voices involved in the conversation.
Presenter: Jodi-Renee Giron

Curriculum and Equity: Do our students see themselves in the curriculum materials we use?
Participants will learn the process we went through as a team to learn about best practices related to equity in our afterschool curriculum/materials.  We will do some hands-on practice with exploring various materials and looking for ways to improve them.  Participants will also have access to the supplemental materials we created for our KidzLit curriculum.
Presenters: Kristi Chambers, Dayna Krannawitter & Sheri Quirie


Integrate a high-quality reading effort into an after-school program
This session will spotlight research informed ways afterschool and summer programs can incorporate reading into their curricula for children in kindergarten through third grade. We’ll delve into a variety of structural and instructional features these programs can successfully incorporate to support the development of students’ early literacy foundational skills.
Presenter: Abby Burke

Supporting Young Writers
Want to get kiddos writing and have fun at the same time? Come join us to learn some simple yet engaging strategies for making writing a part of any afterschool program, one that both you and your students will look forward to!
Presenter: Marissa Payzant

Imagine Science Biomedical Engineering (self-guided web-resource)
In this session, attendees learn how to engage their youth using a self-guided Biomedical Engineering camp resource. Guide your youth in using the engineering design process to create multi-stage nano-capsules that promote fighting sicknesses, perform laparoscopic surgery using a youth developed simulator, and more! Best of all, introduce them to local Biomedical Engineering careers!
Presenters: Tiffany Sessions & Marissa Scholting

NASA 4-H Virtual Science Sessions
Nebraska Extension has partnered with NASA to create lessons for your 5th through 8th grade students! Each lesson is aligned with Nebraska State Standards as well as Next Generation Science Standards. Check out a kit with all of the materials needed for the lessons!
Topics include Lunar Phases, Aquifers, Erosion, Seasons and Engineering Design Challenge (Hurricane Proof Buildings).
Presenters: Tiffany Sessions & Marissa Scholting


Implementing SEL Afterschool
Learn how North Platte Kids Klub went from no SEL at all, to having a local therapist join their team and facilitate a hands-on SEL program after school.  See how we did it from the first step to the last, what worked and what didn’t.
Presenters: Carrie Lienemann & Angela Bear

Not just a “Slice of the Pie”:  The Whole Child approach
As a culture, we think that mental health is “just a slice of the pie”, rather than an important part of the whole picture.  In this presentation, The Wellbeing Partners will dive into how physical activity, nutrition, environment, and social emotional health interact for youth, from infancy through adolescence.  We will share how we can address challenges to youth mental health and create community supports using the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC), created by the CDC.
Presenters: Claire Brown & Claudia Granillo

Health and Wellbeing in the Afterschool Program (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
Afterschool program personnel play a vital role in promoting mental health and well-being and identifying and responding to emerging social- emotion or mental health needs in children and adolescents. However, individuals in the education and out of school program sector do not receive the education, training, or ongoing support needed to respond to social-emotional or mental health needs in the afterschool setting. Learn about how the afterschool setting can assist with providing a safe and welcoming space, supportive of fostering social-emotional competencies and practices to support and nurture positive mental health practices. Participants will leave the session ready to use this kit to create a “calming corner” in their afterschool program.
Presenters: Jessie Coffey & Marielle Resendiz

Kindness Counts Curriculum
An in-depth and hands on workshop demonstrating the Kindness Counts curriculum for grades K-4. Workshop participants will learn the curriculum concepts, how to use it, when to use and support programs offered to further enhance the curriculum.
Presenter: Mary Beth Budz


Gardening through Hydroponics
No soil, no digging, no weeding. That’s gardening?  With tower garden it is!  This method of gardening is bound to be an unfamiliar concept to many students.  Its a powerful real-life teaching tool.  It’s packed with engaging opportunities to bring science, math and other curricular areas to life.  In this session you will learn about hydroponics and how to get started.
Presenter: Alana Pearson

Exploring Nature and Science through a Schoolyard Bioblitz
A bioblitz is a fun event that invites participants to investigate how many living things they can find and record within a specific area (such as a schoolyard). Workshop participants will walk away from the session understanding how to incorporate a bioblitz into their programming, how to elevate their students’ observations into usable community science data, and what resources and support Nebraska Game and Parks can provide their program.
Presenter: Alie Mayes

Taking Flight: Creating an Afterschool Bird Club (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
During this session, participants will learn about an afterschool bird curriculum. The 8-week Afterschool Bird Club curriculum was designed to encourage students to discover relevant scientific concepts such as adaptations, habitat, and life cycles all while discovering the world of birds. Towards the end of the program students will gain confidence and leadership skills by taking what they’ve learned and helping to facilitate a bird themed Family Nature Night for their schools. Participants will leave the session with the curriculum and materials, like a bird feeder, to help them implement Afterschool Bird Club at their school.
Presenter: Amber Schlitz

Water is Wild!
What is water and how does it work? Who relies on it and where can we find it? Through a series of activities, we’ll cover how to teach students in grades K-2 about water in the afterschool setting. Beginning with the water basics, then following water in the school yard, and ending with water in a Nebraska ecosystem – you’ll walk away excited to dive in!
Presenter: Grace Gaard

“Fall” in Love with Trees! Project Learning Tree K-2 Workshop (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
Learn new strategies for engaging students in outdoor, environmental experiences! Gain access to Project Learning Tree’s Sensational Trees Guide featuring three activities for K-2 that invite young learners to investigate trees using their senses. Exploring nature is a complete sensory experience, and trees also provide a natural focal point for sensory explorations. Participants will receive a certificate for 1 hour of in-service credit for childcare licensing and leave the session ready to “Fall” in Love with Trees this autumn.
Presenter: Jack Hilgert

Kids in the Outdoors 2.0
In this session, participants will learn about the importance of environmental and nature education, how cool it is to teach, and leave with some easy to implement activities.
Presenters: Julie Boyle & Sarah Roberts

Entomology in Afterschool (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
Insects are the perfect vehicle to capture the attention of youth who may be taken aback by insects or utterly fascinated by them. Insects are ubiquitous and diverse animals. Learn to pin and ID insects to their scientific order. Participants will leave the session ready with everything they need to collect and create aninsect collection.
Presenter: Michael Eskelson

10-minute Nature Studies (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
Everyone loves science and wants to do science studies. But teachers and professionals often feel overwhelmed by the time they think it is going to take. In this session we will focus on 10 different ways to study nature when you only have 10 minutes a day. From insects to plants to rocks, we will cover it all, quickly, but efficiently!
Presenter: Monica Macoubrie


Dirt Detectives and Give Me Five
Explore two multi-day programs filled with hands-on fun. As Dirt Detectives, students investigate population growth and develop a plan to grow more food on a shrinking amount of soil. Give Me Five explores the five food groups and corresponding state-grown foods, making a local connection to a healthy lifestyle.
Presenters: Courtney Shreve & Brooke Tempel

Mission to Mars Camp
Give your students an opportunity to reach Mars! In this interactive STEM camp, students will use the engineering design process to get themselves and their team to NASA’s outpost on the moon, and then on to Mars. Perfect for middle school students but can be adapted for upper elementary. Plans and NASA links provided!
Presenter: Elizabeth Dunn

Ultimate Engagement Challenge: Planning and Providing Engaging Programming
This session will provide hands-on, concrete engagement strategies and programming ideas. Participants will learn to develop activities, ask purposeful questions and plan for meaningful student engagement. This interactive session will embed elements of the NAQCIS external observation rubric into the planning and development phases.
Presenters: Kari Price, Amy Encinger & Jolene Johnson

Splish, Splash I was Having a Blast! (requires pre-registration)
Do you want some ideas about how to make your trips to the pool more engaging, educational, and fun for the youth you serve?  Put on your swimsuit and come join us at the pool!  Brandon and Kathie have taken makerspace, learning games, and music and rhythm to the water for a session of ideas, laughter, and fun!
Presenters: Kathie Phillips & Brandon Prater

Nebraska Extension Marathon Kids
Participants will learn how to implement Marathon Kids, an evidence-based national running program designed to increase the physical activity levels and confidence of youth through running and active minutes. Marathon Kids can be implemented in afterschool programs, in the classroom, virtually, or in-person. Join us as we help youth cross the finish line with confidence, improved health and wellness, and goal-setting abilities as they complete a marathon one mile at a time.
Presenters: Mariah Newmyer, Donnia Behrends & Hannah Guenther

Building Multi-media Capacity to Provide Innovative Programming in STEM
The session will aim to provide attendees with some tips and tricks to engage youth in STEM concepts beyond the traditional or hands-on learning environments. In this session, attendees will learn about multi-media directions, such as “Lab Crib” feature videos and cartoon characters to engage youth in a new manner with STEM concepts.
Presenters: Nik Stevenson & Hayley Jurek

Students leading the charge! Project Based Learning Multidisciplinary Experience for Middle Schoolers
Are you interested in student led learning, but don’t know where to start? Would you like to create a relaxed and welcoming environment for learners? Would you like to encourage research and critical thinking skills, while having fun?

In this session, we will show you how we created a successful Project Based Learning experience for Middle School students using a Harlem Renaissance curriculum. We will share how to create a skeleton lesson plan with the flexibility to allow participating students to direct the course of the work and share our insights and outcomes.
Presenters: Ron Kellog & Petra Wahlqvist

Meal Master
We will demonstrate how any ASP can have an advanced cooking club regardless of the space.  Focus areas include kitchen safety, using recipes, measuring ingredients, meal prep, budgets and of course, eating! Roll up your sleeves and come cook with us.
Presenters : Sara Colford & Stacey Whiting

Youth Entrepreneurship Beyond Pitch Competition
Youth entrepreneurship education is emerging as a new framework to provide youth with opportunities to explore entrepreneurial careers, develop 21st skills, and connect with communities. Upstarts was developed as a place-based educational program to cultivate a sense of connection to community and to help youth gain entrepreneurship skills and business acumen. This session will offer chances to learn about the program that brings in-depth engagement between youth and local businesses and the best practices of how youth as agents of changes contribute to community vitality and wellbeing.
Presenters: Surin Kim & Maria de Guzman

NASA Activities in your classroom part II
NASA provides a wide range of activities for all grade levels as well as content area. My last workshop focused on hands-on, engineering -based, build something activities that teachers could incorporate into their current lessons/curriculum. The activities presented during this workshop will still include updated and new hands-on activities where you “build” something, but we will also look at other activities using a different hands-on format.
Presenter: Terresa Greenleaf

Tinker, Explore and Create Entrepreneurs with the TEC Box kit (requires pre-registration and an additional fee)
Experience the exciting world of entrepreneurship; where the possibilities are endless, and the only limitation is your imagination.  The TEC Box, Tinker. Explore. Create, introduces the skills of entrepreneurs, such as active listening, empathy and creative problem-solving.  Try some of the activities; find your inner entrepreneur. Participants will leave the session with their own TEC Box and the skills to use it in programming for grades 1-5.
Presenters: Tracy Pracheil & Jacie Milius

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hilton Omaha (1001 Cass Street). The hotel is directly connected via sky bridge to the CHI Health Event Center and less than a mile from the Old Market Entertainment District. You may make reservations online at If you prefer to call (402.998.3400), refer to the GetConnected room block or the group code “GET”. The discounted group room rate is $129 (single or double), $139 (triple), $149 (quad). The overnight parking rate for GetConnected hotel guests will be discounted to $7.00/night.

Several other hotels are located within the vicinity.

We are no longer accepting proposals.

Deadline for submitting a conference proposal has been extended to May 18th.

Conference participants will include afterschool program leaders and staff, community partners, families, administrators and business representatives.

Presenters will have three options to select from for each proposal submitted:
1) 50 minute workshop session with opportunities for interaction, Q and A, discussion, and/or hands-on learning experiences
2) 50 minute workshop session, similar to option 1, but conference attendees will pay an additional fee and receive a kit of materials to take back to their programs
3) 15 to 30 minute pre-recorded information session that will be posted for viewing after the conference
In addition, some selected workshop sessions will be live-streamed the day of the conference.

Conference themes include:

Full-Service Community Schools
Innovative Programming
Academic Support
Environment Education
Equity and Inclusion
Emotional Health and Wellness

In-person conference presenters will be required to register for the conference and pay conference registration fee.

If you have questions about submitting a conference proposal, contact Kim Larson,

Walk N Talk display tables are for organizations to informally connect with afterschool leaders and staff. Agencies and organizations that will be accepted to host a Walk ‘N Talk display table will be those who provide resources and support at no cost or minimal cost to afterschool and summer programs across Nebraska. There is no charge to host a Walk ‘N Talk table.

The majority of conference attendees will be afterschool program leaders and staff, representatives of community agencies and organizations, and school administrators and teachers. There will be approximately 500 in attendance the day of the conference.

Hours for the display are 7:45 AM until 12:30 PM. It is expected your agency or organization will have one representative available to provide information throughout this time period. This person will receive a complimentary conference registration and lunch.

Walk N Talk Slideshow
If your organization is selected to host a Walk N Talk table, you will be asked to create and submit one powerpoint slide that captures the essence of the work of your organization, keeping text to a minimum. This slide will be combined with others submitted and will be shared during the opening conference session. A master slide template will be provided.

Conference Partners

Updated September 2, 2021 8:15am