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Where has the SAB Bean? Chicago!

by Colleen Conrad, Scholarships Manager

The Elks Scholar Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of Elks scholars—current and alumni—who advise the ENF on its scholar relation efforts.

When I presented the idea of getting together in Chicago for our first in-person Scholar Advisory Board meeting in two years, I was prepared for some trepidation. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in traveling and gathering for everyone, and finding time during the busy fall semester for our scholars is always difficult. However, the response I received from our SAB was an overwhelming, enthusiastic “yes!” 

That enthusiasm never dissipated throughout our whirlwind SAB weekend together at the start of November. Eight of the 10 2021-22 SAB members visited the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters, participated in some fun bonding activities, explored Chicago, and of course, put in some real work during the day-long board meeting.

“While I’ve never been to an in-person SAB meeting before, it was inspiring to see how quickly everyone connected and bonded with each other,” says the brilliant Elks Scholar Fellow and my meeting leader, Grace Roebuck. “From the first moment programming started, the SAB seemed like old friends, even with many new faces. I am very optimistic that this year’s SAB will feel even more like an Elks family.”

Friday started with a tour of the Elks HQ, service projects, and an opportunity to be interviewed on camera about their SAB experience. The team made blankets for the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center with the help of the Hoop Shoot’s fearless leader, Makenna Cannon. Once everyone had landed in the city, we finished the day with a board dinner and bowling.

Saturday was meeting day. With a focus on teambuilding and goal setting, the SAB met in an elegant board room at the Hilton on South Michigan for most of the day. Did we break into groups and hone our teambuilding skills to construct a shelter for Elroy the Elk? Did we talk about how best to communicate our engagement opportunities so even more of our Elks family participates? Did we set goals for the board and focus on planning events to bring together our diverse group of service-minded scholars? Again, the answer to all of these questions is an overwhelming, enthusiastic “yes!”

The SAB took a midday break to enjoy the unusually mild November weather. They visited the iconic Bean and ate at one of downtown’s numerous food halls. Saturday night was a chance for the SAB to take in an improv show at one of Chicago’s greatest institutions—The Second City. And of course, a quintessential Chicago experience would not be complete without pizza.

Two days in Chicago with the SAB flew by, and I consider myself very lucky to have a front-row seat to what makes the Elks family so special. There is nothing quite like the magic of getting a group of Elks scholars together.

In 2021-22, the Elks National Foundation will award $4.6 million in college scholarships, ensuring a bright future for our nation’s youth. As important members of the Elks family, Elks scholars have many social and service opportunities to connect with the Elks and one another. For more information about our scholarship programs, and for ways Lodges can get involved with Elks scholars, visit elks.org/scholars.


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