This was the second national conference I have attended and what a different feeling for me from the first. I found that this conference for me was like a school reunion of sorts. I felt right at home as I chatted with many of our past speakers including J. Mark Lowe, Diahan Southard, Ann Staley, Donna Moughty and Dick Eastman. I made some new contacts as well and hope to bring them to The Villages to speak at future meetings.
When I am at conferences I usually wear three hats. First, as Program Chair, I am always on the lookout for topics and speakers. Second, as co-chair of the British SIG, I will usually attend at least one session whose focus is researching The British Isles. Third, I look for topics that can assist me in my research with either a brick wall or just additional general research. I will tell you about some of them in a future post.
However, the most fun for me is the exhibit hall. Just ask my roommates. I am like a kid in a candy shop. In fact, many of the vendors had candy at their booths and I happily volunteered to help them out by eating some. I sign up for drawings, because you can’t win if you don’t enter. I am so glad I had two and a half hours each day to spend there. Grab a little lunch and then wander around and talk to the vendors. That is another great thing about the exhibit hall. Vendors like Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage, Find My Past and Genealogy Gems offer 30 minute mini sessions throughout the luncheon period which can be very informative and may even help you to break down one of those brick walls. The exhibit hall is often as enlightening as the sessions. I always learn something new when talking with vendors.
I hope you all were able to see our group photos with both the NGS president, Jordan Jones, and FGS president, Josh Taylor. Nice photo ops and good publicity for us. By the way, two of our attendees won door prizes at the NGS banquet. Pat Rand won an Ancestry DNA kit and Joanne Read won a year subscription to Research Ties. Congratulations to both of you.
I want to thank the VGS for the scholarship and I hope all of you will get an opportunity sometime to attend a state or national conference. It’s a great way to exhaust, yet re-energize yourself!