2022 Southern Plains Conference

“Regional Education and Teaching Region in the 21 st Century”

8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. April 29, 2022

In an age of globalism, we still live in places and regions, and those places and regions matter. In this environment, educators face significant challenges. We must educate our students in a manner that prepares them for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. But in so doing, we under-value local settings and knowledge. This especially impacts rural or regionally marginalized places, sending students the signal that they must go elsewhere to seek their futures. This conference will address issues related to education in the Southern Plains in the 21 st century. This can include working as an educator in the southern plains, educating southern plains students, and/or teaching regional subjects and issues, from art to zoology. Hear from outstanding educators (from various levels and disciplines) from around the southern plains (defined as eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles).

Conference Schedule




Panel: Historical Perspectives on Southern Plains Education, Chair Brian M. Ingrassia

-   Brian M. Ingrassia, “Building Minds for a Region: A Brief History of Education in the Texas Panhandle”

-   Daniel Klaehn, “Holt School: From Educational Foundation to Community Preservation”

-   Frank Bellizzi, “Lockney and Hereford: A Tale of Two Christian Colleges on the High Plains of Texas”


Roundtable: Route 66 Project, Chair Shanna Peeples

-   Ramona Emerson

-   Melodie Graves

-   Ruth DeAnda


Keynote: Shanna Peeples: “Learning to Stay: The Importance of Place-Based Learning to Build Student Agency, Equity, and Belonging in Regional Schools”


Panel: Perspectives from the Schools, Chair AJ McCormick

-   Maria Duarte, “Challenges and Rewards in Teaching Non-Western History Courses at Eastern New Mexico University”

-   Kassi Gregory, Beyond ABC123: Public Schools’ Role in Addressing Student Mental Health”

-   David Wheeler, “Technology and The Modern Panhandle Student Body:  How infrastructure, resources, culture, and pedagogy meet in the classroom”


Panel: Innovations, Chair Katelyn Denney

-   Mary Emeny (Amarillo, TX) “Think Globally, Act Locally, Plan Regionally”

-   Alex Hunt and AJ McCormick, Ashley Callaham (CSAW): “CSAW, the TPCI Education Project, and Internships”


Keynote: Darryl Birkenfeld, Ogallala Commons: “Learning By Doing: A Community-Based Internship Program”


Roundtable by Ogallala Commons, “Learning to Love the Land We Live In,” Chair Darryl Birkenfeld

-   Jim Steiert

-   Justin Trammell

-   Laura Wilbanks

Closing Remarks


Questions can be sent to





2020 Southern Plains Conference

UPDATE: View the proceedings from the 2020 Conference here.

You can also request a free physical copy of the proceedings (although  donations are appreciated to help us continue offering such resources). Email requests and your mailing address to 

2020 Southern Plains Conference Banner

2020 Southern Plains Conference 

“Representing, Modeling, and Imagining Water on the Southern Plains” 

Brought to you by West Texas A&M University’s (WTAMU) Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM). 

Feb. 20-22, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX  

The Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) presented its second biennial Southern Plains Conference, “Representing, Modeling, and Imagining Water on the Southern Plains,” February 20-22, at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. The conference theme, which changes every two years, brings attention to how experts, including scientists, measure and understand the Ogallala Aquifer, and then how they help the general public see and understand it in turn.

Confirmed speakers included Merri Lisa Trigilio, geoscientist and filmmaker of Written on Water; Julene Bair, author of The Ogallala Road; and Kenna Lang Archer, environmental historian and co-author of Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land. West Texas A&M University faculty presenting at the conference included environmental engineer Nathan Howell, agricultural scientist Lal Almas, and environmental historian Byron Pearson. The program also included professionals and practitioners from the region.

Sponsors for the conference include WTAMU’s School of Engineering and Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the Texas Panhandle Audubon Society, and the Dixon Water Foundation.

View the press release here


SPC Proceedings Cover

2018 Southern Plains Conference

February 22-23, 2018--Shaping a Sense of Place

In February, CSAW partnered with nonprofit and leadership organization Ogallala Commons to bring back the Southern Plains Conference. The two-day conference, held at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, invited speakers who considered the theme of "Shaping a Sense of Place on the Southern Plains" from various disciplinary and professional perspectives. 
CSAW would like to thank the Tecovas Foundation for their generous support of this event.