Nov. 14-16, 2021

Cragun’s on Gull Lake
Brainerd, Minnesota

Register For In-Person Conference

2021 MREA Annual Conference

Rural Strong

Join us at the 2021 MREA Annual Conference as we celebrate the strength and impact of Greater Minnesota education and share practices and programs for being #MNRuralStrong.

The MREA Annual Conference is the only conference in the state that brings together educators, administrators, school board members and other advocates across Greater Minnesota for quality professional development, networking, and career recognition.

We’re hosting our 2021 conference in person!


“I had great conversations with a variety of professionals—superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members. I LOVE the professional energy in celebrating and learning from success!”


Conference Highlights

  • Kick-off Celebration & Awards Banquet honoring educators and the innovation we’re seeing in Greater Minnesota schools. Join us in person or via the livestream on Nov. 14.
  • Keynote Speakers on community as a place and overcoming adversity
  • 30+ Breakout Sessions on a variety of relevant topics for teachers, school administrators and school board members
  • Gallery Walk vendor hall of best practices for schools today
  • Networking with education professionals next door and across the state
  • Northern Minnesota location that is restful, yet invigorating


In-person conference registration includes the full schedule of meals, activities and sessions Sunday night through Tuesday morning. Early Bird discounted registration rates (must use coupon codes below) end August 15. The last day to register is October 31.

Note: The discounted Team registration price is only valid with full-conference registrations of at least 3 people from the same organization. One or two individuals only must register as Individuals.

See tabs below for details.

Sunday, Nov. 14

4:00 pm         Check-in Begins — Poolside

5:30 pm         Social & Connections — Event Centre

6:00 pm         Awards Banquet — Event Centre

7:30 pm         Dessert Reception — Poolside

Monday, Nov. 15

8:15 am           Opening Keynote Ron Berger — Event Centre

10:00 am         Breakouts Session 1

11:05 am          Breakouts Session 2

12:00 pm          Lunch — Main Dining Room

1:30 pm            Breakouts Session 3

2:45 pm            Mindstorm — Poolside

4:15 pm            Legislative Session with Sam Walseth — Lakeshore 1-4

5:30 pm            Gallery Walk Vendor Exhibit & Light Dinner — Event Centre

Tuesday, Nov. 16

7:00 am           Breakfast — Main Dining Room

8:15 am            Breakouts Session 4

9:30 am           Closing Speaker Dick Beardsley — Event Centre

10:30 am         Closing & Giveaways — Event Centre

Ron Berger

Rural Schools at the Heart of Communities

In every rural community, public schools serve as a center for learning and social life. We will consider ways in which the work of schools can expand into a wide range of contributions to the life and health of rural communities, using examples of student work and community collaboration from rural towns across America.

Ron Berger is Chief Academic Officer for EL Education, a nonprofit school improvement organization that partners with public schools across America and creates open educational resources. He is a well-known speaker nationally and internationally on inspiring a commitment to quality, character and citizenship in students. 


sam-walsethSam Walseth

Legislative Lessons: What’s Next for Rural Schools?

Sam Walseth has logged 21 legislative sessions lobbying at the Minnesota State Capitol and leading successful coalitions to improve equity in educational opportunities for rural students. He will provide an insider’s perspective on the 2021 legislative activities and share what’s next for rural schools.





Dick Beardsley

Staying the Course

Dick Beardsley is a best-selling author, renowned marathon runner and motivational speaker. His performance at the 1982 Boston Marathon is still considered one of the greatest marathons races of all time. The Duluth native is best known for tying for first place in the inaugural 1981 London Marathon and his close finish with in the 1982 Boston Marathon. Dick will talk about overcoming, being resilient and emerging stronger after tough times. 

Educators can earn qualifying teacher and administrator license renewal credits for attending sessions at the in-person conference or viewing sessions via the on-demand package.

In-person attendees must pick up CEU certificates at the conference closing. Certificates will not be sent to in-person attendees after the conference.

Districts which purchase the on-demand learning package will receive information in December for viewers to request credit certificates.

Refunds & Cancellations

  • EARLY BIRD registrations are not refundable for any reason.
  • CANCELLATIONS through October 31 will incur a $35 processing fee per person. No refunds after Oct. 31.
  • NO-SHOWS will not receive a refund and will be invoiced for outstanding fees.
  • SUBSTITUTIONS are welcome any time. Call the MREA office.

Reserve Cragun’s lodging here.

Lodging is available at Cragun’s Resort at preferred rates through October 14. Don’t delay, as lodging typically fills early.

Larger groups may use Cragun’s lodging reservation form to request cabins with individual bedrooms and bathrooms to access additional gathering and team space. You may also indicate on the online reservation form rooming partners, accessibility needs, and so on.

Cragun’s lodging reservations are online only. Reserve Cragun’s lodging here.

Attendees are not required to lodge at Cragun’s and may choose to reserve lodging at nearby Brainerd/Baxter hotels. Preferred rates have not been arranged with nearby hotels.

Due to low demand the Online Learning Package will not be available for the 2021 conference.

Purchase On-Demand Conference.

For one price, districts can purchase digital access to MREA’s 2021 Annual Conference and extend quality professional development to all staff in the district. Digital access provides on-demand viewing of General and select Breakout sessions at a date and time convenient for educators in the district.

Districts can save on on-demand pricing with a Team or Individual registration to the in-person conference Nov. 14-16. The on-demand package also may be purchased without a separate registration for the in-person conference.

Sessions Included

Awards Program: 4 Educator of Excellence and 2 Innovation award recipients

Opening Keynote: Ron Berger, Rural Strong

Breakout Sessions:

  • Benefits of Living in Rural Minnesota

  • Making Student Learning Public

  • Why Schools Must Prioritize Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health Post-COVID

  • Why NOT? Thinking Outside the Box to Offer Students More

Closing Speaker: Dick Beardsley, Staying the Course

On-demand registration closes Octoboer 8. On-demand access will be provided in early December.

Monday, November 15
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Cragun’s Event Centre, Brainerd

Increase your reach with professional educators while creating a strong network of associates at the conference Gallery Walk Vendor Showcase. When you need to talk with school superintendents, administrators, school board members, or teachers, Gallery Walk is your place to successfully connect. It’s held concurrently with a light dinner on Monday, allowing vendors more interaction time with conference attendees. Non-members may register only as a Vendor.

Register Soon

  • Registration closes October 15 or earlier if all spaces fill.
  • A vendor booth is FREE with a conference (Individual or Team) registration for MREA members. Check the Event Session “Gallery Walk” during registration.
  • Vendor Booth-only registration fees vary based on membership.
  • Register using the “In-Person Conference” button above and select “Conference” (Individual or Team) or “Vendor Booth Only” registration.

Plan Your Booth

  • One 8 ft. long by 30” wide covered table and two chairs are provided. Skirting, dividers, and drapery are not provided.
  •  Set-up is from 3:00-5:00 pm Monday in the Event Centre. Booth displays must be set up by 5:00 pm Monday.
  • Vendors are provided a light dinner during Gallery Walk.
  • Electricity and Wi-Fi are available at every table. Vendors should supply power strips if they have multiple electrical items.
  • Table-top banners and displays work best. Floor-standing banners and exhibits may be accommodated behind tables or replace tables.
  • Booth take-down is from 8:00-9:00 pm Monday. No booths may remain after this time.
  • Booth giveaways must be limited to $5 or less per individual to comply with Minnesota’s gift law for public officials.
  • Food and beverage may not be brought into the event without prior permission from and arrangements with Cragun’s.
  • Bring a small stamp or sticker to validate participants’ Gallery Walk Passports after they visit your booth. Completed passports qualify schools to win complimentary conference registration.

Early Bird discounted registration runs through August 15. Get $50 off per person on full conference registrations by entering the coupon code/s below. Discounts will be reflected at Registration Summary:

  • Conference, Team Member (3+ people)

          Use Coupon Code: TEM21

  • Conference, Individual (1-2 people)

          Use Coupon Code: IND21

Registrations after August 15 will be charged standard Admission rates.

Early Bird registrations are not refundable. Discounts do not apply to Vendor registration.

Thanks to these Presenting Members:


Empowering Members:

JLG Architects     |     Kraus-Anderson