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About IdeaFestival Bowling Green

In 2011, The Center for Gifted Studies, The Gatton Academy, and the WKU Honors College were awarded a $500,000 challenge grant by the James Graham Brown Foundation – the first of its kind ever given to a public university. We met the challenge grant by raising a matching $500,000 from individuals, businesses, government offices, and foundations. 

Through this funding we created the i4 Initiative, later named Innovate Kentucky, to promote a culture of innovation through a series of outreach and programming opportunities that instilled a sense of importance of STEM education. Innovate Kentucky focused on encouraging children, young people, and adults to combine their innovative ideas with an entrepreneurial spirit. One of the initiative’s top priorities was to establish an annual speaker series at Western Kentucky University.  

Thankfully, a perfect model for a speaker series already existed in Kentucky: IdeaFestival®. Founded in 2000 and held annually in Louisville since 2006, IdeaFestival brings in world-renowned speakers and has attracted thousands of participants. IdeaFestival branched out in 2013 with IF Lexington, which focused on creative disruption. Following that event, Innovate Kentucky was offered the opportunity to host an IF event in Bowling Green.

The tagline for IFBG is “Just imagine.” Now entering its fifth year, this one-day event has always featured thinkers and innovators from a variety of fields who were eager to share their innovative ventures and creative solutions. In 2016, with the introduction of hands-on, minds-on activities and a new focus on middle and high school student, IFBG positioned itself to continue to work towards  Innovate Kentucky's overall goal: spark innovation – one idea at a time.

Thanks to the members of the IFBG planning committee for their tireless work and dedication to make this event a reality.


2018 IdeaFestival Bowling Green Planning Committee

Dr. Dawn Bolton — WKU Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Tyler Clark — World Council for Gifted and Talented Children/The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Kelsi Cline — Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce

Troy Coleman — AT&T 

Mary Evans — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Jeff Hook — WKU Center for Research and Development/Kentucky Innovation Network 

Dr. Tracy Inman — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Cheryl Kirby-Stokes — The Gatton Academy

Jesse Knifley — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Lynn Minton — Kentucky Innovation Network

Josh Raymer — NextHome Realty Experts/Book in a Box

Dr. Julia Roberts — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Andee Rudloff — independent consultant/artist

Erika Solberg — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU 


Past Committee Members

Dr. Gordon Baylis — WKU Research Foundation 

Ron Bunch  — Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce 

Emily Buttrum — WKU Center for Research and Development

Dr. Craig Cobane — WKU Honors College

Sydnee Dorris — Hitcents 

Dr. Julie Ellis — WKU Department of Engineering 

Tracy Harkins — World Council for Gifted and Talented Children/The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Brian Mefford — CNX Inc

Sam Oldenburg — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Kim Phelps — Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce

Zack Ryle — The Gatton Academy

Joe Tudor — Hitcents


IdeaFestival Bowling Green Just Imagine logo

February 13, 2019

Van Meter Hall & Downing Student Union
Western Kentucky University


Minds-on, Hands-on, Activities


Past Festivals



Student Engagement Materials (to come)





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 Last Modified 11/30/18