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TEDxFargo rolls on: Second day focuses on youths

Carter Ridl, 15, from left, Shannon Doyle, 14, Peyton Ekman, 14, Lydia Hanna, 17, and Luke Gulbranson, 15, try to knock down a box tower in an activity styled after Angry Birds during a TEDxYouth@Fargo on Friday, July 25, 2014, in Island Park. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO – Attendance was lower for the second day of Fargo’s TEDx event, but the enthusiasm was still there.

A few hundred people headed to the Fargo Theatre on Friday for TedxYouth@Fargo to soak up ideas from 10 speakers. Most of the audience ranged from middle school students to college graduates, and they weren’t afraid to make noise.

The youth conference, now in its second year, is an offshoot of TEDx, a series of talks organized independently from the main TED group.

TEDxYouth@Fargo drew about 100 people last year, and it’s clear word has spread since then. Organizers told the crowd about 350 people had showed up Friday.

Speakers worked off of this year’s theme: “Living on Purpose.”

For special education teacher Brooke Kupcho, that meant stressing the importance of collaboration.

Kupcho and her husband, Noah, started the magazine Wolftree in Fargo with the help of family, friends and strangers who contributed to a Kickstarter fundraising campaign online.

“The one thing about Fargo is it is a team,” Kupcho told the audience. “And that team wants you to succeed.”

Kupcho said she first struggled with delegating responsibility, but letting go and hiring more magazine staff let the Wolftree vision grow.

Now, Kupcho said people ask her when she’s going to leave Fargo for greener pastures.

“But for Noah and I, that was the complete opposite,” she said. “The atmosphere of Fargo is the reason that Wolftree had such a successful start.”

The conference included out-of-town speakers, too. Cam Adair runs a website dedicated to helping readers improve their social relationships and told the crowd to accept rejection.

“Rejection is a compass,” he said. “It teaches you what you don’t want so you can learn what you do.”

Adair drove the message home with personal stories of rejection – when a girl didn’t want to be his Valentine in the sixth grade and when his high school hockey team treated him like a pariah.

Angelana Quanbeck, a homeschooled 14-year-old from Fargo, said the speakers gave her new ways to look at life and the creative process.

Friday’s conference came after a morning of “adventures” the participants could choose to take part in, from rooftop yoga to a life-size version of the game “Angry Birds.”

Davies High School student Lexi Belk chose yoga. She said she thought the overall conference was a good spin on an old formula.

“Everyone’s gone to motivational speeches before, and they all seem the same,” she said. “And these were all different ones.”