NACOGDOCHES, Texas — For the first time in its 40 years, the largest annual event focused on the civic engagement of college students will take place in Texas, and Stephen F. Austin State University is hosting it.

“The IMPACT Conference has a significant, nationally recognized history of building on our country’s legacy of encouraging student service and civic engagement as a way of giving back to the communities that support college campuses and their students,” said Dr. Lauren Burrow, professor of education studies at SFA and campus coordinator for the conference. “With this being the 40th anniversary of IMPACT and the 100th anniversary of SFA, this first-time campus hosting of the conference in Texas is a historical honor.” 
Scheduled for Feb. 22-23, 2024, the event will seek to strengthen student involvement in community service, service learning, community-based research, advocacy and social justice. According to its website, IMPACT works to broaden student experiences and expertise by connecting them with administrators, faculty, AmeriCorps members and nonprofit professionals to learn and share effective practices. These connections help students improve personal skills and organizational strategies, discover opportunities and resources, exchange stories, and be inspired and challenged to sustain IMPACT’s efforts.

“It is my hope that Lumberjacks and local Nacogdoches businesses and organizations benefit from a national spotlight on the good deeds and civic education that are ongoing throughout the state of Texas,” Burrow said.

As part of its host duties, SFA is seeking workshop proposals for the event with a deadline of Oct. 23. The conference will feature presenters who share their extensive knowledge and experience in their work for social change. Past presentation topics include action and advocacy, community partnerships, leadership skills, service learning, social issues, and social media and technology.

In addition, the 2024 Impact Conference will offer workshops in three new 75-minute formats: interactive sessions intended to highlight the presenter’s knowledge and/or practice on a given topic; sessions with two presenters focusing on the outcomes and practical application of programs and events that relate to IMPACT’s mission, vision and values; and roundtables for attendees to have an informal conversation about a shared topic of interest. To learn more about the workshops, visit the IMPACT conference workshops web page. To submit workshop proposals by Oct. 23, view the 2024 workshops proposal application

“I encourage all students, administrators, faculty and community members to take advantage of access to a national conference, as a presenter and/or an attendee, because it’s an unprecedented opportunity to hear and/or contribute to national conversations in our own backyard,” Burrow said. “I hope colleges and communities throughout Texas show up to show our nation what sets Texas apart.”

Burrow said she knows the cost of participating in national conferences is rising, so SFA students and East Texas community members could benefit greatly from the opportunities and connections the IMPACT Conference will offer right here in Nacogdoches.

“Having access to a national conference on our campus could provide an affordable conference opportunity that most students would not otherwise get to experience,” she said. “Additionally, many conferences are geared toward presenting research studies headed for future publications, but the IMPACT conference makes room for ‘thought talks,’ too, so that students around the nation can hear about and cheer on the civic engagement of their peers — with big and small topics.”

In addition to session proposals, 2024 IMPACT Conference organizers are looking for local sponsors for the event. To learn more about sponsoring the conference, email  

According to Burrow, the host campus selection process included two rounds of written proposals during which hopeful universities and colleges presented their campus assets and articulated their alignment with the IMPACT Conference’s mission, vision and values. 

“I am appreciative to colleagues and administrators who enthusiastically supported me in preparing the proposal paperwork submissions, including Provost Dr. Lorenzo Smith, Dr. Michara DeLaney-Fields, Dr. Veronica Beavers, Dr. Jannah Nerren and others,” she said. 

To learn more about the conference, visit the IMPACT website, or register to attend

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more by visiting the SFA website.