By Anjelica Smith
Last week, Emily and I traveled to St. Louis to enjoy 70 degree weather and the IMPACT Conference at Washington University in St. Louis. IMPACT provides us with an exciting opportunity to connect with students and staff from colleges and universities from around the country at this annual convening on civic engagement. As the home for TurboVote at WashU, Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement staff and students secured 17 TurboVote leaderboard appearances, so we were also excited to be able to congratulate them for their great work in person and enjoy their session about Politics 365.
At our Saturday morning session, No such thing as an "off-year:" Ensuring students are ready to vote in all elections, we dug deep into the (unfortunate) drop in turnout during local elections and discussed strategies for keeping students engaged. We’re so grateful we were able to hear campus perspectives from Isabella Braga and Frances Ashbury of the Rollins College Democracy Project and Cara Johnson of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at WashU. Naturally, we played our favorite game, Votes & Ballots. Session attendees worked together as part of either the Big State University Bears or the Pawnee Community College Owls to make a voter engagement plan that worked for their campus and community (with limited time and resources, of course).
It was great to visit with members of the TurboVote community. A shout out to folks from DePauw University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, St. Joseph’s College-New York, and Case Western Reserve University, for saying hello and chatting about voting with us. We connected with some wonderful future partners, too. I’m glad to report that our TurboVote chip clips and buttons were a hit.
The IMPACT conference offered enriching content around every corner! We enjoyed hearing keynote remarks from former U.S. congressman Richard Gephardt, Sam Giacobozzi, and Asam Ahmad and attended a panel discussion on getting engaged post-2016 election. St. Louis offered us many food options, and we were happy to experience Blueberry Hill, Pi Pizzeria, and Retreat Gastropub. Did I mention we saw the world’s biggest chess piece, too?
I’m happy to report it was a great weekend filled with many members from the TurboVote family and a fantastic time was had by all. We look forward to seeing fellow IMPACT’ers in Dayton, Ohio in 2018!