From the beginning of the Authors and Ideas Festival there has been a serious commitment to celebrate those who work tirelessly to educate the youth of Monterey County. More than 2000 weekend scholarship passes have been provided over the years, and countless testimonials show how lessons learned during the Festival make their way back to classrooms throughout our area during each school year.


Beginning with the very first Authors and Ideas Festival nine years ago, students from Monterey County schools have played an integral role. Students are chosen to research, meet and introduce all of the speakers for the Festival. Students also serve as introducers for all presenters during the Student Ideas Festival held at Santa Catalina School and attended by 2200 Monterey County middle and high school students each September.

For the first time last year we were proud to have the participation of students representing more than 150 migrant students who participated in Migrant Education Region XVI’s annual Speech and Debate Tournament. This group comes from public schools throughout Monterey County, from San Lucas to Castroville. We are very pleased to have members of this group with us again this year to introduce many of our Saturday speakers.


Now in its third year, participation in this contest is available to all middle and high school students in the county. Students are invited to submit a one-minute video explaining an original great idea. They may work individually or as teams.

Last year’s winners, Ian Russell and Nathaniel Avila from Washington Middle School in Salinas, submitted their idea to cross breed the fast growing eastern white pine with the balsam fir. The resulting hybrid tree would grow faster and be able to produce more paper; hence, leaving more trees to curb global warming. WOW, and this from middle school students!


Over the last two days more than 2000 Monterey County students from twenty five schools attended sessions on the campus of Santa Catalina School, where they participated in a special performance of Romeo and Juliet and were inspired by a Mars explorer, a young farm worker who became a doctor, the co-founder of the largest organic grower in our country and a water expert, to name a few.

Past speakers have included a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a famous
astronomer, Juilliard performers, a well-known restaurateur, U.S. Ambassadors, and many more. This year they were even taught how to sprout wings! Since its inception in 2008, more than 20,000 young people have participated.


Since it is impossible to bring every Monterey County student to the Student Festival, this program was created to take Festival presenters to schools throughout the academic year. Presentations are given to large assemblies of students, and when a speaker is an author, books are donated to the school.

Last March Festival 2 Schools took Litterati Founder, Jeff Kirschner, to Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City where he spoke to three groups of 250 students each. As a direct result, King City has recently embarked upon a project to clean up the City. The project focuses on creating a litter free world, and schools are challenged to be part of the project.