Students from North Little Rock East and West campuses, Sylvan Hills High School, Jacksonville High and Middle schools, and Jacksonville and North Pulaski high schools will be among the more than 2,000 EAST students from around the country are gearing up for the 15th annual EAST Conference "Your Future is Trending Now" at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The conference is planned from March 19 – 21.

According to Communications Coordinator Blake Welch, the national conference will showcase and celebrate a year’s worth of student work and community projects, and feature keynote speakers Walt Coleman, Little Rock businessman and NFL referee, and Shanoa Miller, EAST alumni.

Coleman is a fifth-generation businessman in the dairy industry and currently serves as controller for Hiland Dairy. Coleman has also officiated NFL games for 25 years and will be part of the awards banquet festivities, encouraging students and guests with stories from the corporate world to the football field.

Miller was an EAST student in Maui, Hawaii, an EAST Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is currently a research assistant for the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), Miller will help kick off the conference Wednesday evening as the opening plenary keynote speaker.

EAST students excel in skills developed through projects built on cutting-edge technology, teamwork, problem solving, service and innovation. In addition to the countless other projects, the EAST Initiative determines a national service emphasis for student exploration and participation. This year, EAST partnered with ACHI to focus on "Health and Wellness" projects, allowing EAST students to learn more about resources available to them and how they could develop projects to help create healthier and more physically active communities.

"Last year we started working with EAST on a new program called Students for Healthy Communities," said Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas Surgeon General and ACHI Director. "We asked students to put their talents to work on projects that help make their communities healthier places to live, learn and play."

Along with highlighting their projects in the exhibit hall, EAST students will network with other students, attend informative breakout sessions and mingle with business professionals from several industries.

"The excitement for the 2014 EAST Conference has been building for months now," said Jessica Dunham, EAST Initiative Event Coordinator. "We believe this will be the best conference yet and cannot wait to see all of the students’ hard work and dedication on display."

The public is invited to visit conference exhibits and learn more about the EAST Initiative Thursday, March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, March 21 from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Several conference events will be broadcast in real time on the EAST You Tube channel at, including the Open Plenary March 19, the Awards Banquet March 20, and the Tech Support Olympiad and Closing Session March 21.

For more information on the 2014 EAST Conference, visit or contact Dunham at or 371-5025.

EAST is a project-based, service-learning oriented program that provides students with high-end technology available in the most progressive fields in the world. At its heart, EAST is a coordinated effort to provide today’s students with an educational atmosphere that allows them to gain insight into their own abilities to acquire and use information, solve problems and gain valuable experience. Since its inception in 1996, the EAST model has expanded to over 200 schools in five states — Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. For more information about the EAST Initiative, visit