I was recently asked the following question, “Keith, why should I attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference?”
Here is why:
- It’s a great way to see other parts of the U.S. that otherwise, you might not ever consider visiting.
- You can take your family along with you; there are programs for your spouse along with programs for our sons and daughters.
- Why not turn the conference into a vacation either before or after? My family has gone with me many times over the years. One of the most memorable family trips we ever took was when my wife, son, and I drove to the conference in Salt Lake City, UT. The stops we made along the way both out and back will forever hold a special place near and dear to my heart. I remember my wife and son both saying, “Is there not a state you don’t know someone in, because you have talked with another county agent in every state along the way.” My son proceeded to name the states we had traveled through during this conference, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Mississippi and finished with, “dad, that’s a lot of talking!” While in Colorado in Estes Park way up high on some highway around 12,000 plus feet, my son got out of the car and carved his name into a snowbank near the road edge. That was cool…
- Folks, we work a lot of hours away from our families often neglecting them as we help someone else. Take your family with you, I can promise you will not regret it, or at least I never have.
- Meet agents from around the country, you might just make a new lifelong friend(s). I have made several over the years, and some are responsible for where I am today.
- Might pick up on a new program idea or two or learn a new skill that could assist a producer/client back home.
- Do you plan on going up for promotion? Opportunities exist for you to showcase your work on a national level during the conference? Professional presentations, poster session, and numerous award programs are available. You could possibly be a national award winner and go home with a few extra dollars in your pocket or not if you spend it at the scholarship auction.
- Oh yeah, the scholarship program, I almost forgot. Needed funding to attend a training, apply for a NACAA Scholarship once you meet the qualifications. See the December 2021 County Agent Magazine, page 14 for details.
- Most importantly, this is a time to fellowship and to have fun with fellow agents from Georgia as well. One event I look forward during the conference is States Night Out. That’s when each state delegation goes out to dinner together, after which we head back to the scholarship auction to possibly run up the bid on an unsuspecting person or find an item we want and hope to hold out long enough to be the highest bidder.
- What I cherish the most about attending the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference are the friendships and memories made, stories told, lots of laughter, and sometimes even a few tears of joy or sadness along the way.
I can promise you this, give the conference a chance by attending more than once or twice, develop a friendship(s) with a fellow agent from another state, apply for an award, give a presentation, present a poster, spend a few dollars at the scholarship auction, but most importantly have fun; you will not regret the decision, you might even be hooked.