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First Value of Play Conference at IU Bloomington Successful

US Play Coalition logo

The Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands held its first Value of Play Conference at IU Bloomington April 16 to 18, 2024. Over 225 people attended the 3-day learning event as part of a community of play professionals. Over 50 sessions were scheduled with 100 plus learning presentations from experts around the world including Canada, England, and Finland. The Value of Play Conference was moved from Clemson University to Indiana University this past year after 14 years of success with the Clemson Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management. The Eppley Center was awarded the US Play Coalition and Conference last Spring holding Play Date workshops in July, August, October, and November 2023 around the nation, and this, the 15th conference at IU Bloomington.

The 2024 Value of Play Conference Team: L to R, Eppley Center Director Steve Wolter, IU Senior Conference Manager Riley Reese, Conference Co-Manager Dr. Kristy Anderson (Eppley Center), Conference Co-Manager and Clemson University US Play Coalition Executive Director Stephanie Garst, US Play Coalition Steering Committe Co-Chair Meghan Talarowski, Conference Logisitics Manager Layne Elliott (Eppley Center).

During this annual conference, park, recreation, library, childcare, and play professionals gather to learn practical, leading edge, research, and advocacy information from world leaders in the value of play. Awards are part of the conference and this year, a new award for distinguished service was created. Given to Stephanie P. Garst, the Executive Director of the US Play Coalition for the past ten years, the award was named after her in this inaugural year. Without her guidance, work, and expertise this year, and over the past 10 years, the US Play Coalition and Conference would not be a successful and highly regarded contributor to play and its value to society. Hats off to Stephanie!

More information, including conference presentations, can be found at and by contacting Eppley play coalition management staff at or calling 812.855.3095.

Conference attendees participate in the Libraries, Learning, and Play Forum at the 15th Annual Value of Play Conference at Indiana University Bloomington

Thanks to all the sponsors and collaborators who made the 2024 Value of Play Conference successful including Clemson University’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management who lent Stephanie Garst to IUB (Indiana University Bloomington) for the past year. Additional sponsors included Landscape Structures, Burke, Musco Lighting, First Book, PlayCore, Goosechase, Playground Grass, Vortex, Berliner, Spec, Laundry Cares Foundation, and the Clemson Youth Development Program.

IU contributors and collaborators included an IU Research and Creative Activity Conference Grant from the IU Vice President for Research, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, and IU School of Education.