Youth in Action Make a Difference Conference to be held in Duluth for first time

The annual conference featuring workshops presented by students for students is back for its 25th year, and for the first time it’s being held in Duluth. The Young Leaders’ Make a Difference Conference is February 3, from 8:15 to 2 p.m. at the DECC.

More than 350 students in grades 9-12, from 19 area high schools across the Iron Range and Duluth, are expected to attend. The Make a Difference Conference is presented by the St. Louis County Extension Youth in Action Program and funded in part by the St. Louis County Board, Partners Advisory Board, schools, and many local businesses, agencies, colleges, and community organizations.

Youth in Action students have put together eight workshops to present at the conference. Topics include: what to know about vaping, stepping out of your comfort zone, unlocking your potential, yoga and mindfulness, natural remedies for good health, coping strategies for better mental health, identifying your 2020 vision, and finding the good life. Students presenting at the conference come from Mesabi East, Hibbing, Virginia, Marshall School in Duluth, Northeast Range, Hermantown, South Ridge and Ely.

Keynote speaker this year is Kyle Willkom, founder of Action Packed Leadership and the author of two books on leadership, Wake Up Call and The Thinking Dilemma. He delivers messages on positivity, leadership, and action through his use of musical comedy and engaging personal stories from his out-of-the-ordinary life experiences. Also performing will be Duluth’s Renegade Theater Company. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson will speak to give a brief welcome.

Youth in Action is a service organization involving students from schools throughout the Iron Range and Duluth. Its mission is to promote youth leadership and bring positive change to northern Minnesota. The Make a Difference Conference got its start back in 1996 with the goal of bringing together youth from across the Iron Range for a day of presentations by students for students. Until now, the conference has always been held on the Iron Range, but due to increasing involvement from Duluth area students, the goal is now to rotate the conference between the two locations every other year.

Annual homeless count in St. Louis County to be conducted next week

Homelessness in St. Louis County is a persistent, complex problem that stems from many factors including a lack of affordable housing. But how many people are in this situation?

Counting unsheltered individuals and families is the goal of an annual survey, which St. Louis County’s Public Health and Human Service Department is conducting on Thursday, January 23. The County is working with community service providers, agencies, and volunteers to complete a federally required Point in Time Homeless Count. The purpose is to identify people who are experiencing homelessness and not staying in a shelter on the night of January 22.

The count seeks to survey all “unsheltered” individuals and families, or people whose primary nighttime residence is not fit for habitation. Examples include a car, park, abandoned building or storage unit, bus or train station, campground, ice house, or in the woods. The count also seeks to identify “doubled up” households – sometimes referred to as “couch-hopping” — or those staying with family or friends on a short-term basis. People living in this situation meet the state’s definition of homeless.

This annual survey is vital because it helps define the scope and scale of the problem, and the data is used to determine federal funding awarded to fight homelessness. There is a coordinated effort to reach specific groups experiencing homelessness, including veterans, youth, communities of color, and those fleeing domestic violence.

St. Louis County will be collecting information on January 23 to document where people experiencing homelessness spent the night of January 22. For citizens who have information about people who are experiencing homelessness and willing to complete a brief survey, surveyors will be at the following locations on Thursday, January 23:


Community Connect @ Damiano Center, 206 West 4th Street

AICHO, 202 West 2nd Street

Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior Street

Duluth Warming Center at CHUM, 120 North 1st Avenue West

Lake Superior Community Health Center, 4325 Grand Avenue

Leech Lake Duluth Area Office, 202 West 2nd Street

LifeHouse Drop in Center, 102 West 1st Street

MAC-V, 5209 Ramsey Street

St. Louis County Government Services Center, 320 West 2nd Street, Central Client Area

(If activated), Duluth Warming Center at Gloria Dei, 219 North 6th Avenue East


AEOA, 702 3rd Avenue South

Bill’s House shelter, 210 3rd Street North


Access North, 1309 E 40th Street


Government Services Center, 320 East Miners Drive


Scenic Rivers Health Services, 20 5th Street Southeast

Bois Forte:

13071 Nett Lake Road-Suite B

New Moon, 1224 White Pine Circle, Tower

People also can provide information by calling CHUM’s Street Outreach at 218-461-8505.