Student Voice


June 12, 2024


Inaugural UWRF TEDx event was a home run

April 16, 2015

The inaugural UW-River Falls TEDx event was held throughout the entire day on Saturday, April 11, in the University Center Riverview Ballroom, with Student Life independently planning the event, a branch of the non-profit organization TED, standing for Technology, Education and Design.

The name has become a platform for inspiring speaking segments around 18 minutes in length. “Ideas Worth Spreading” is the slogan, and 10 live speakers, much of them local, including one UWRF student, one UWRF professor, and other locals like reporter Blake Huppert, a UWRF alumnus, and musical guest Cloud Cult, who reigns from Duluth, Minnesota.

TEDx is meant to highlight its hosting region, but the UWRF event also featured a speaker from across the globe, China, which was a bonus because of the current Year of China. In 2009, TED allowed its brand to be used for independently organized events, including college campuses like UWRF.

The sequence of Mark Allister’s environmentally conscious encouragement, which included the use of local food growing and gathering, made sense, especially before the sustainable music recording band Cloud Cult, and not just because Allister wrote a book on the band. Ending with this particular topic was a good move because our university continues to improve sustainability and farming as an integral part of university ideology.

Planning the speaking lineup was slow in the months preceding, but Student Life came up huge, pulling it together for a completely smooth and entertaining event with a good mix of live speaking, music, and food to keep the crowd nourished yet hungry for more inspiration.

Support from the UWRF Foundation compensated the musical acts, but the speakers were unpaid, which is a huge part of the non-profit TED organization. The planning came together and the execution was very smooth, starting with the volunteers setting up the appealing stages in both the Riverview Ballroom and the Falcon’s Nest. Director of Student Life Paul Shepherd moderated the entire event, keeping everything moving swiftly and on time with unphased pleasantness.

At least one alumni was also involved with the filming, which has become an important part of the TED platform. The TED YouTube channel has videos uploaded five times a week and garners millions of views. After editing, the videos will be available online.

The speakers are generally required to stick around to watch the other speakers, so many people got the chance to chat further with them during intermission. The event cultivated a great vibe, and hopefully Saturday’s TEDx event was the first of many annual TED talks here at UWRF.