By Tim Cavell
Last month I was in Washington, DC for the annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR). This is a great conference for prevention-minded researchers and it’s a good fit for those seeking to advance the science that underlies youth mentoring.
My graduate student, JT Craig, had organized a symposium entitled, “The Case for School-Based Mentoring As an Evidence-Based Prevention Strategy”. It was a lot of fun and real opportunity to learn about other researchers in the youth mentoring field. Believe it or not, we researchers have precious few opportunities to gather together and discuss our respective research projects. We have even less time to gather and reflect on the state of the science in youth mentoring and wonder collectively about next steps. If any you know a funder who would like to sponsor such an event, please let us know!
So it was pretty special to meet in DC, discuss our research, and then have a chance to socialize and theorize. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I was thrown into the mix of a handful of “young gun” researchers — a few of the folks who will be the next generation of mentoring researchers. It was very impressive to learn about the work and the passion and the talents of these young folks. I had met two of these “young guns”— Sarah Schwartz and Lindsey Weiler — at the 2014 Summer Institute for Youth Mentoring at Portland State University. I also met Noelle Hurd in Portland but she wasn’t with us in DC. But two other, very promising researchers at SPR were Chris Elledge and Sam McQuillin. Chris was my grad student at the University of Arkansas and I had met Sam at a previous conference. You should know that all 5 now have their own faculty positions at excellent universities. After hanging out with these folks in Portland and in DC, and after hearing my (older) colleagues speak about the research they’re doing with their excellent students, I can assure you that the future of youth mentoring research is in good hands.
The other wonderful surprise at SPR was having a chance to visit with Dr. Brenna Bry. We were fortunate to have Brenna attend our symposium and add greatly to our rich discussion. Some of you know of Brenna’s work in the youth mentoring field. Her Mentoring Achievement Program (MAP) was named a model program by the National Dropout Prevention Center. I encourage you learn more about MAP and the excellent work that Brenna and her colleagues have been doing for many years. Her program has been adopted by school districts in her home state of New York as well as in other countries, including Ireland. What was especially cool at this year’s SPR meeting was that this bastion of prevention science, an assemblage of the best prevention scientists in the world, chose to honor Dr. Brenna Bry with their 2014 Prevention Science Award. She’s one of our own folks and her fine work deserves our attention and our appreciation.
To learn more about Dr. Brenna Bry and MAP you can watch the following inspirational two-part video interview from Archways: