In response to feedback received during our strategic planning sessions: Regional conferences every other year in lieu of a statewide conference
from Alycia Crall, VMN Program Coordinator, March 17, 2014
The Virginia Master Naturalist program Steering Committee is soliciting proposals from chapters to host one of four regional conferences in 2015. These regional conferences will differ from the statewide conferences we’ve had in the past, and they will replace the statewide conference in alternating years. As a result, we will have regional conferences in 2015, a statewide conference in 2016, regional conferences in 2017, etc. These regional conferences will be over the course of one day instead of three days, and chapters can host the conference at any time of the year during 2015 (spring, summer, fall). We would like these regional conferences to be mostly field oriented, but the host can determine if they wish to accommodate indoor training activities as well. We recommend providing training opportunities for skills relevant to specific, local projects, and your chapter may want to target projects being implemented at the conference location. The assignment of chapters by region can be found below. We are looking for one chapter to host within each region, for a total of four regional conferences.
Northern Region Chapters: Arlington Regional, Banshee Reeks, Fairfax, Merrimac Farm, Old Rag, Shenandoah, Central Rappahannock
Southwestern Region Chapters: Holston Rivers, Beagle Ridge, New River Valley, Roanoke Valley, Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes, Southwestern Piedmont, Alleghany Highlands
Central Region Chapters: Central Virginia, Central Blue Ridge, Headwaters, Rivanna, Central Piedmont, James River, Rockbridge
Southeastern Region Chapters: Tidewater, Historic Rivers, Peninsula, Historic Southside, Northern Neck, Riverine, Pocahontas, Eastern Shore
Responsibilities of a Host Chapter
A host chapter should have 3-5 volunteers who can assist with conference planning, but the VMN state program coordinator and program assistant will be available to help with all planning and logistics. Responsibilities of the host chapter include:
- Identify a potential venue for the conference.
- Work with the state program coordinator to develop the schedule for the conference and secure instructors.
- Work with the state program assistant to plan conference logistics.
- Be on hand during the conference to assist with logistics such as registrations, transportation, moderating sessions, providing assistance on field trips, and answering participant questions.
If your chapter is interested in hosting one of these conferences, please send Alycia Crall a short proposal that includes venue location, at least 2 potential sets of dates, a few suggestions for sessions/speakers, and a rough cost estimate for the venue, assuming that we will use the venue for a full day on either a Saturday or Sunday. Please email this information to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 1, 2014. All proposals will be presented to the Steering Committee, and that committee will make the decisions about where the 2015 regional conferences will be. We hope to announce the locations at our 2014 statewide conference at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News on September 26-28, 2014.
Venues are typically booked up to a year in advance. For a conference venue, you may want to plan for approximately 75 people in one room for any general sessions and a location that has plentiful opportunities for diverse field activities. Affordability is important. Some venues offer discounts to state agencies. We will work with Virginia Tech to make venue reservations, book caterers, conduct registrations, etc. Please do not book anything or initiate any contracts. However, any up front information you can provide about good venues and their availability will help us greatly. You all know your communities much better than we do!