By Kim Nix, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
I always feel recharged after each year’s ACI Conference, and this year was no exception. I had never been to Indiana, and was pleased to check it off my list of unvisited states. The Indiana team, led by Phil Bloom, designed an impressive agenda with speakers that focused on several key components of storytelling: writing, video/photography and website improvement. I brought back several ideas that I want to implement in my state, and I’m sure other attendees did as well. It was especially nice to see so many new faces at this year’s conference.
ACI operates on a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year. During the conference, the board of directors held its July meeting and ACI’s annual business meeting. The main sources of income for ACI are membership dues and award entry fees. According to Treasurer Judy Stokes Weber, our budget remains in good shape, with 45 agency memberships. Thanks to a new online awards entry process facilitated by Julie Hammonds, we had a record 412 entries this year.
New board members were also elected at the business meeting. I want to thank outgoing board members Michael Gray (Ky.), Jane Gustafson (Nebr.) and Aaron Meier (Nev.) for their service to ACI, and welcome new board members Andrea Jones (Mont.), Alix Pedraza (S.C.) and Sara DiRienzo (Wyo.). The board also appointed Aaron Meier as Awards Chair, Jenifer Wisniewski as Auction Chair and Joanie Straub as Scholarship Chair for the upcoming year.
The awards presentation is always the highlight of the conference, and this year was no exception. Texas won the most awards, but 19 different states took home plaques. It’s never too early to be thinking about what work you’d like to enter for next year’s awards program. Let’s try to break our record of 412!
Springfield, Mo. is the host city for next year’s conference. Mark your calendars for July 29 – Aug. 2, 2018.