Young Authors Conference

The Young Authors Conference (lovingly, YAC) is a one-day field trip for grades 4-8 that takes place at Bethel University’s main campus in March and May. Students spend a day learning from and writing with professional Minnesota authors. They leave with new strategies, ideas, and skills to become better writers.

Breakout sessions are engaging, interactive, and informative. A variety of topics have been offered over the years, including poetry, journalism, spoken word, short stories, memoir, playwriting, songwriting, and more. Students attend a keynote and three breakout sessions. Live music, an open mic, and a book fair keep students busy and engaged during the day.

Save the Date! – March 15 & May 28-31, 2024

Registration fees are based on Metro ECSU membership status. To find out if your school/district is a member, please see the updated membership list.

Stay tuned for information about 2024 YAC scholarship opportunities.

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2023 Theme:
Building Bridges, One Story at a Time

Bridges are remarkable. We admire these structures for their strength, grace, reliability, and power to tie communities together. Our stories have these same amazing qualities. When we share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, we are building a bridge that has the remarkable ability to connect us with each other. Our strength, as writers, is in our collective stories. Share yours at this year’s Young Authors Conference.

Thank you to our 2023 Keynotes!

photo of Kelly Barnhill sitting on a wooden bridge

March Keynote: Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill is an author, teacher, and mom. She has received a Newbery Medal, a World Fantasy Award, a Charlotte Huck Honor, and a McKnight Arts Fellowship and is a New York Times best seller. She is the author of the novels The Ogress and the Orphans, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, The Witch’s Boy, Iron Hearted Violet, and The Mostly True Story of Jack; in addition to essays, poetry, and a small collection of very strange nonfiction books for elementary students.

May Keynote: Anika Fajardo

Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia and raised in Minnesota. She is the author of the middle-grade novels What If a Fish, Meet Me Halfway, and Encanto: A Tale of Three Sisters, as well as a book for adults, Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family. When she is not writing, she teaches in Augsburg University’s MFA program. She lives with her family in the very literary city of Minneapolis.

anika fajardo

At the Young Authors Conference, students…

Are challenged and encouraged to be better writers.

Leave with new strategies, ideas, and skills to become more confident in their writing.

Learn that strong writing skills are important in life.


For more information about how your students can participate or if you are interested in presenting, contact Katie Wenzel at 612-638-1554.

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© 2023
Success Beyond the Classroom

SBC presents its programs in collaboration with Metro ECSU. Metro ECSU member districts can participate in SBC programs at special member rates. For more information, visit