Wolf Creek Public Schools hosted the 2018 Youth Tech Nation conference at Lacombe Junior High on April 13th.
The conference, originally based on Google Summits, brings in students from all over the region to present to each other things they have learned in school — with the major focus being on technology.
“A lot of it is tech related,” said Marica McWhinnie, assistant principal at Terrace Ridge School in Lacombe.
“It is called Youth Tech Nation for a reason, however, there is a lot of other things happening here with good pedagogy and learning.
“It is growing every year and the kids are really excited. They are even more excited when they leave.”
This year, the keynote speakers for the event were Joe Whitbread from Lacombe business Jo(e) Social Media and William Langille, a Lacombe Composite High School Grade 11 student who worked an internship with Jo(e) and was also a spectator at Youth Tech Nation four years ago.
“Youth Tech Nation offers a lot of kids some great opportunities that work around the industry of digital media and social media is a huge part of that,” Whitbread said. “We are showing kids they can find way more opportunities in the world when they are responsible online through positive digital citizenship.”
Whitbread, who mentioned he was in Grade 11 in 1992, said the reason the keynote was done with Langille was to demonstrate how much digital technology has changed between generations.
“It makes it relatable to the people at the conference to have an adult and a youth team up for the keynote,” Langille said.
“It is an amazing feeling to deliver the keynote – to be in the same position where I was first motivated to pursue this kind of stuff.”
Whitbread said it was important for kids to understand the power social media has.
“What we are trying to do is put that into perspective for kids,” he said. “Right now they may be talking to one, a dozen or a hundred of their closest friends. Those messages can be shared immediately and will be shared forever. Those pictures and posts will be up forever.
“We are really trying to show that there is opportunity now and future decisions can be made now.”
Langille added he feels it is important that young people take advantage of opportunities like Youth Tech Nation because it helped him gain confidence and a possible career path.
“That is my goal. To instill confidence in the people watching our keynote,” he added.