Mark your calendars! Vermont Afterschool’s 15th(!) Annual Conference has been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, October 24-25, 2024 at Sugarbush Resort in Warren.

Thursday will feature a half-day, professional development deep-dive specifically for out-of-school time directors and site coordinators, and Friday will once again bring together Vermont’s out-of-school time directors, staff, educators, and partners for a full day of learning, an inspiring keynote, networking, and celebration of the important work you do for Vermont’s children, youth, and families!

We can’t wait to see you again in October! Stay tuned to our emails and our conference webpage for the official invitation with info on registration, conference workshops, and the keynote speaker. If you’re curious about lodging, please contact Becka Wilcke.

Register for Conference +

2023 Vermont Afterschool Conference Registration

On this page, you can register for the Thursday workshop and/or the Friday conference. Please note, you can save the registration form and use the link that will be emailed to you, but your registration is NOT COMPLETE until you submit. If you have any questions, please reach out to Becka Wilcke, becky@vermontafterschool.org.

Early bird registration ends October 2nd! Rates will increase from $150/non-member to $175/non-member!

Lana Hailemariam

Lana Hailemariam is a Certified Leadership & Organizational Coach who engages audiences and provides memorable experiences. Dr. Donald Clifton once said, “There is no more effective way to empower people than to see each person in terms of his or her strengths.” If you can see the possibility in each person, then you can speak to it and teach to it.

The path Lana traveled hardly resembles a straight line. After graduating with a BS in International Business from University of Maryland, College Park, her adventures have included nine years in sales, four years of event management, six years in the multi-million dollar cheerleading industry, a few years in insurance, five years in ministry, four years in education and more than 10 years in entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, Ms. Hailemariam owned a Gold’s Gym Franchise, an Indoor Football Team (Maryland Maniacs), and a personal training company called Star Fitness.

After all of that, Lana brought her East Coast flair to the mountains when she moved to Denver from The DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia). There, she discovered a love for working with non-profit organizations as well as her Fortune 1000 clients. Lana enjoys all of it and over the years has learned that the beauty of her dynamic approach to coaching is exactly that diversity of background and experience. Lana uses the wisdom she gained through life’s experiences and challenges to lay the foundation to authentic, meaningful conversations that positively impact people, teams and organizations.

When Lana is not coaching, she is likely curled up with a good book, binge watching Netflix or enjoying nature outdoors somewhere beautiful. Preferably two out of three at one time!

FULL-DAY WORKSHOP* | 10:00 AM–12:00 PM and 1:30–3:30 PM

*Participants must attend both sessions for this workshop.

How does that work? Harnessing student curiosity in STEM design challenges
Can you use wind to generate electricity or to do work? In this workshop we will practice using puzzling phenomena and data to encourage student curiosity, using student voice and choice to drive investigations, and using hands-on equipment to help students see themselves as scientists, engineers and changemakers.
Presenters: Sophia Donforth and Erin Malloy from Vermont Energy Education Program
Level: Introductory/Intermediate
Core Competencies: Learning Environments and Curriculum, Program Planning and Development


Develop Your Lens for Equity & Reimagine Privilege
Develop Your Lens for Equity: Participants will be challenged to consider identity in every aspect of their work and lives. We will discuss how to apply an equity lens to every conversation, project, plan and thought. This is a very introductory approach to beginning to see equitable opportunities everywhere and not just in the workshops we attend. Reimagining Privilege: The term privilege has become heavily used and often weaponized in disagreements about identity-related spaces. Because of this, privilege has become misunderstood, and many groups have become defensive upon hearing it. Participants will go through an exercise to challenge thinking about privilege and understand it in a way that is productive, helpful, and useful to themselves and the communities they serve.
Presenter: Lana Hailemariam from StandUP
Level: Introductory/Intermediate
Core Competencies: Equity and Inclusion

Blueprints and Bedrock: Building a Quality Program on a Foundation of Relationships
This session will outline the different steps and systems that go into building a quality afterschool program and opportunities that exist for individuality and creativity in program design. It will also highlight the importance of strong, healthy, trusting relationships as the solid foundation on which afterschool programs are built.
Presenter: Maureen Gillard from Essex Junction Recreation and Parks
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Learning Environments and Curriculum; Family, School, and Community Relationships; Program Planning and Development

Professionalism in Afterschool
What is professionalism in afterschool? How do you build a sense of belonging in your programs? In this introductory workshop, participants will take a dive into what professionalism in the third space should look like. We will talk about why we are in the afterschool field. We will discuss ways to protect yourself as a staff member and ways to protect your students. What kind or language should we be using? What should your professional appearance be? How does culture affect an afterschool program?
Presenter: Tiffany Cross, former director of the Greater Burlington YMCA
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Professional Development and Leadership

Understanding the new Vermont Afterschool Core Knowledge and Competencies
In this workshop, afterschool professionals will learn about the new Vermont Afterschool Core Knowledge and Competencies that have been approved. We will review the 10 Core Knowledge areas and staff will get a basic understanding of how to use the competencies in each area to grow their skills in the afterschool field. We will also discuss how these new knowledge areas and competencies impact the Afterschool Pathways.
Presenter: Tricia Pawlik from Vermont Afterschool
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Professional Development and Leadership

Leadership Through Collaboration
Leadership through collaboration with students, families, and community engagement. How do you define leadership? What does that look like? Let’s explore the power of intentional presence and action with like-minded individuals in our communities.
Presenter: Deb Nevil from Cambridge Afterschool Program
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice; Family, School, and Community Relationships; Program Planning and Development; Professional Development and Leadership

Coaching For Commitment, Competence & Climate
If you are looking to unleash the talents, abilities and passions of your staff, look no further than, “Coaching for Commitment, Competence & Climate”. Designed for talented and experienced leaders that are changemakers, who not only care deeply about the work of afterschool but are also passionate about those doing it. Participants should expect to grow, learn, laugh and be equipped to return to their sites and stoke the passion and skill set of new staff as well as reigniting seasoned staff who may have grown complacent or comfortable in their work.
Presenters: Bill Bonsignore and Marie K. Gilmond from Tapestry & EPIC Rutland City Public Schools
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Professional Development and Leadership

Developing Engineering Mindset in Youth
To create a generation of innovative problem solvers we need to engage youth in engineering activities. Engineering education promotes development of an engineering mindset—the values, attitudes, and thinking skills associated with engineering. This session will highlight ten engineering practices that help youth develop and strengthen an engineering mindset. You will experience these practices as you engage in an engineering challenge designed for use in afterschool programs–engineering a rescue shuttle to help a person who needs water rescue. After learning about how shuttle variables affect its flight distance, you’ll imagine, plan, create, and test a solution that solves the problem. As you do so, you’ll reflect on the engineering practices you are using and how these can be supported when youth engineer.
Presenter: Shannon McManus from Museum of Science, Boston
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Learning Environments and Curriculum; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice; Program Planning and Development

Equity in Afterschool STEM: Strategies and Resources
This session will help afterschool educators consider and address equity in their science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and activities. Presenters will provide an overview of girls’ and women’s experiences and representation in STEM in the U.S. and engage participants in a discussion of opportunities for afterschool programs to encourage girls in STEM. Presenters will also share a Framework for guiding afterschool programs’ efforts to increase equity and inclusion in STEM and share examples of the Framework in action. Participants will learn strategies for making afterschool STEM opportunities accessible and equitable, grounded in research and practice, and be introduced to several activities to implement with youth that focus on creating meaningful conversations about equity, STEM identity, and diverse representation. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and develop a short-term plan for their own practice.
Presenters: Kata Lucas and Amanda Sullivan from National Girls Collaborative Project
Level: Introductory/Intermediate
Core Competencies: Learning Environments and Curriculum; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice; Equity and Inclusion; Program Planning and Development; Professional Development and Leadership

Understanding Developmental Relationships
Developmental relationships are the connections between youth and adults that help youth thrive. Through these important relationships, we can support youth as they cultivate life skills and become contributing members within their community. The recipe for creating these special relationships is no secret! Join us to explore and learn about the 5 key elements of developmental relationships. You will leave this workshop with practical strategies and a plan in place on how you can strengthen your relationships with youth to help them thrive.
Presenters: Lauren Traister and Molly McFaun from University of Vermont Extension 4-H Program
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth


Food and Meal Programming in 3rd Space Programs
In this session we will learn about ways to add meals and snacks to after school programs through the National School Lunch Program and At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program, about grant opportunities that can help this expansion, and participants will begin planning their own next steps for the addition or expansion of meal programs. Participants will learn from what their peers are doing and will have assistance in sketching out their own action plans.
Presenters: Keely Agan and Tim Morgan from Hunger Free Vermont
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Learning Environments and Curriculum; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth; Equity and Inclusion; Family, School, and Community Relationships; Safety and Wellness

Understanding Trauma and Recovery
Physical & emotional safety are the foundation from which all human development unfolds. Trauma is the absence of this safety and the experience of toxic stress instead. This stress disrupts a child’s development, especially their self-regulation. At the heart of recovery is the caring, reliable relationship that children missed. As children feel cared for, they can move out of survival mode and back into growth mode. We can provide this safe, supportive relationship by seeing their developmental wounds underneath their challenging behaviors. As we do, our more mature, best self grows alongside the children we are helping.
Presenter: Beth Martell from Beth Martell Coaching
Level: Introductory/Intermediate
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth

Adolescent Development & Creating a Culture of Youth Voice
Youth voice is increasingly becoming a buzzword, but what does it really mean? This workshop will help you build your understanding of what youth voice is and can be. It will also show you how you can infuse it into every aspect of your program and every level of your organization. Starting with some general content around adolescent brain & identity development, participants will leave with a better understanding of youth in general, what programming that encourages youth voice looks like, and how they can best promote the empowerment of their youths’ voices every day.
Presenter: Matt Wolf from Vermont Afterschool
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice

Group Dynamics and the Team Building Process
This interactive workshop will introduce participants to a range of activities to support the team building process. Designed for new and experienced staff alike, participants will come away with new activities and facilitation strategies that can be immediately implemented with both youth and adults in a variety of settings. With many positive outcomes, including increased participation and promoting feelings of safety and belonging, come learn how team building can benefit your programs.
Presenter: Ben Ardel from Vermont Afterschool
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Learning Environments and Curriculum; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice; Professional Development and Leadership

Funding Your Afterschool Program
The landscape of afterschool programs has changed dramatically over the past few years. The needs of families have changed, the opportunities for outside funds have changed, as has the state financial assistance program. In this workshop, we will review the effects of Act 76, consider funding types and how they can be used in your business and limitations of each funding type. Lastly, this session will review and discuss the best practices for applying for and managing non-tuition funding. This workshop will be interactive, with a focus on peer-to-peer learning.
Presenters: Erin Roche and Jen Severance from First Children’s Finance
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Core Competencies: Program Planning and Development

Care of Self, Community Care, and the Role of Culture
Self-care has become a $2 Billion dollar industry that is based in profit, structural racism, and classism and often does nothing to help support us. This training will give you a new way to imagine and re-invent self-care by transforming it into Care of Self and Community Care. Focusing on a new definition of resilience will lay the basis of the creation of a place where we can break paradigms and envision a new way to doing things. This session is a mix of discussion and small group activities.
Presenter: Kheya Ganguly from the State of Vermont
Level: Intermediate
Core Competencies: Equity and Inclusion; Safety and Wellness

Plan It/Scrap It
How do you find the balance between intentional planning and spontaneous youth-directed program development? How do you plan programming that meets the requirements of multiple agencies and value systems, carve out fun-filled, academically grounded camps that are safe, inclusive, and engaging? This workshop will offer intentional planning strategies, interactive planning documents, pre-program survey techniques, and sage advise and experience from across the field.
Presenters: John Amory and Mandy Chesley-Park from Expanded Learning Program
Level: Advanced
Core Competencies: Learning Environments and Curriculum; Program Planning and Development; Professional Development and Leadership

STEAM on a Team with Vermont Destination Imagination
This is a hands-on session in which participants will try several brief creative Challenges that are based teamwork and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Activity ideas can immediately be used with kids and teens in your programs. Learn the basics about Destination Imagination, an international non-profit, and our Vermont Affiliate, with discussion about adults as facilitators.
Presenters: Jane Youngbaer from Vermont Destination Imagination
Level: Introductory
Core Competencies: Child/Youth Growth and Development; Learning Environments and Curriculum; Relationships and Interactions with Children and Youth; Youth Engagement, Voice, and Choice; Equity and Inclusion; Program Planning and Development

2023 Exhibitors:

First Children’s Finance • Jr Iron Chef VT • Hunger Free VT • Martell Coaching • Northern Lights at CCV • Vermont Energy Education Program • StandUP • Destination Imagination • Museum of Science, Boston • Expanded Learning Center


Lake Morey Resort
82 Clubhouse Road
Fairlee, VT 05045


Individuals planning to stay at the Lake Morey Resort Thursday are eligible to receive a discounted rate. To reserve a room at the discounted rate, please call the resort directly (800-423-1211) prior to October 4, 2023 and mention you are staying for the conference.



12:45 PM: Welcome
1:00–5:00 PM: Deep-Dive Training


8:00–8:45 AM: Registration & Caffeine
8:45–9:00 AM: Welcome from VTA Executive Director
9:00–9:45 AM: Keynote Address from Lana Hailemariam
9:45–10:00 AM: Break
10:00 AM–12:00 PM: AM Workshop Block
12:00–1:00 PM: Lunch
1:00–1:30 PM: Exhibitors
1:30–3:30 PM: PM Workshop Block
3:30–4:30 PM: Afterschool Cafe (Dessert, Raffle)

Your Support Makes the Annual Conference Possible.

Vermont Afterschool, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and contributions are tax deductible. Your gift supports our efforts to increase the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs in Vermont, as well as to empower youth.

The 2023 Annual Conference Was Made Possible by Generous Support from: