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2015 Conference Preview

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Conference favorites return

The most highly rated programs from McAllen, Texas, will be back in Knoxville, Tennessee.

  • Newsmakers
    These panels offer-up experts on current outdoor-related issues giving you insight, context and sources so you can head home ready to file a story. Look for panels on topics like public lands and water issues in Knoxville.
  • Weed Walk
    This morning walk with local naturalists has gotten rave reviews at the past two conferences. We are working with Rich Patterson to bring this back for Knoxville.
  • Honorary Awards Banquet
    After revamping this event from previous years, this final night tradition was truly a time to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our members and the changes received positive feedback all around.

You asked, we listened

Evaluation suggestions from the 2014 conference in McAllen, Texas, and their impact on the 2015 conference in Knoxville, Tennessee:

  • “Instead of so many sessions consider having fewer but better quality sessions.”
    We will be running only two session concurrently in Knoxville and as much possible, make them non-competing sessions, so you don’t miss a thing.
  • “Find more accessible locations.”
    Knoxville is located within a day’s drive of nearly half of the nation’s population and nearby McGhee Tyson Airport is serviced by six different airliners.
  • “Would like to see expanded outdoor demo day with water access.”
    Immediately out the back door of the hotel and convention center is World’s Fair Park with shallow water access for fishing demos and small boat demos and the Tennessee River is only a short walk down the road. We will be on the river for the Welcome Dinner on Friday night and hope to incorporate paddle boarding and boating demos.
  • “More supporting member sessions to improve attendance once members are on-site.”
    With only two other sessions running at a time, we could easily incorporate programming for our Supporting Group representatives – if you have programming or speaker suggestions, email Jessica Seitz at jseitz@owaa.org.
  • “Definitely need to move the photo group meeting to the beginning of the conference. It is scheduled too soon before the banquet and there is not enough time to go back and get ready for the banquet.”
    Per the photo section feedback, the photo section meeting will be held the first day of conference and will be expanded into an hour and half long PechaKucha event. Look for an email from your photo chair for more details.

Pre- and post-conference trips/spouse, partner and family activities

As some of the lower-rated portions of conference this past year, this will be an area of focus for next year. With our hotel in downtown Knoxville and a free downtown trolley, there is a wide range of activities available in walking or riding distance from conference headquarters. In addition, read this month’s article from Visit Knoxville for a primer on some pre- and post-conference activities in the region.
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