I think it's bullshit that two of my younger classmates are trying to crowdfund going to a conference that's already difficult enough to get into. To me, it's the equivalent of buying PAX passes and trying to get people to pay for it. They're "reward" for getting money is that they will interview one conference attendee for every hundred dollars they raise.
Also, one of the girls really rubs me the wrong way because she doesn't try to be social with anyone. I don't give a fuck if you're shy, but if I talk to you, I expect more than one word answers and an attempt to engage in dialog.
Also, nothing newsworthy goes on at a conference. It's sole existence is there to sharpen your craft as a science writer and maybe network. I think that should be entirely your own investment. If you want to work extra hours, fine. But don't make it a charity case when virtually no one else will benefit from it.