For the last 14 years, community members and Latter-day Saints from around the globe have travelled to the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus in Rexburg, Idaho, for a few days of learning and instruction and the opportunity to “gather” with others.
“I come here because I love it,” said Char Lee Behunin from Centerville, Utah. “It’s renewal, it’s inspiring. I get ideas to help with my children and with teaching. There are classes on scriptures, marriage, finances and so much more. I get home inspired to be better.”
Although the demographic of students on campus during the annual Education Week might look different than other times of the year, their reasons for being there are the same as young students — to be uplifted and inspired at a higher institution of learning.
“Our hope is that [people] come and feel the Spirit on campus,” said Brett Sampson, director of university public affairs and of the conference. “[Our hope is] that they are filled with the Spirit and with new knowledge that arms them to have the strength they need to move forward. And that they share what they’ve learned with others and they don’t forget it.”
Originally, the conference brought people from the surrounding areas to the Rexburg campus. This year more than 2,000 people from around the world attended classes on July 28-30. Of that number, 600 were youth ages 6 to 17.
“It is nice that there are options,” said Brother Sampson. “[The youth] program has grown over the last couple of years as people have found out that it is an aspect to the BYU-Idaho Education Week.”
What started out as a desire to have parents feel comfortable bringing their small children to class has turned into youth classes and family time together. Whether it is attending a class together, doing a ropes course or another activity, Education Week at BYU-Idaho can be a family experience.
“Families are realizing they can come and their kids can go and do the youth program,” Brother Sampson said. “It’s a great thing for everybody. We saw the need and it is so in line with the priorities here at BYU-Idaho and the mission to include families and to emphasize the family.”
For Kathy Ivie, from Mud Lake, Idaho, her experience at education week is “a time to learn.”
“I seem to pick up on the little things that I feel apply to me,” she said. “I learn again to do the things I need to improve.” For her daughter Leah, who will be a freshman on campus in the fall, attending education week was an opportunity to learn more about the Savior.
“I love how all of the lessons are geared toward coming closer to the Savior,” she said. “Even classes that seem more secular always have a gospel connection and it is all very uplifting.”
This year’s lineup included 188 courses over the three days. For people who were unable to attend on campus, keynote addresses were available via live stream on the internet.
“The online streaming has been available the last three years,” said Brother Sampson. “Our intention in doing that is to provide access to those who can’t come on campus. We hope they strengthen and uplift them.”
Recognizing many of the BYU-Idaho student body are in the Pathway program or enrolled in online programs, Brother Sampson said it is a natural move to have some of the sessions available online.
“The whole thing about Education Week is gathering together and lifting one another,” said Brother Sampson. “We hope to strengthen individuals and families for lifelong learning as they gather and participate together.”
Keynote speakers included retired institute instructor and author S. Michael Wilcox, BYU-Idaho Online Vice President Jon Linford, BYU-Idaho Communication Department adjunct faculty member Susan Grant, and author Chris Williams. Recordings of keynote addresses are available at byui.edu/education-week.
“Anyone that is going through trials or a hard time, this is a perfect sanctuary,” said Eric Richards. Brother Richards has been a teacher at BYU-Idaho’s Education Week for the last five years. “It’s an atmosphere where the Holy Ghost can inspire, lead, guide and buoy up. It is the best atmosphere for teaching and learning, in my opinion.”
[email protected] @marianne_holman