16 Years and Still Evolving...
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Date: October 04, 2009
Author: Ellen Sam
October 3, 2009 - Sixteen years! It seems so short but yet a long time. I missed the first conference in Orlando but have been at everyone since. Chicago was the second conference…three days full of fun, great networking and more importantly, a change in training philosophy. Conference speakers were requested to speak by a very small group headed by Dr. Ian Dunbar. Long-time members will recall that well-behaved dogs were welcome.
It wasn’t too long before the annual training offered evolved into two days of pre-conference seminars/hands-on workshops with a few presenters followed by the three days of conference with more speakers joining the pre-conference presenters. Attendance continued to grow which required more changes. The pre-conference/conference format was dropped in favor of a five day conference. More breakout sessions added. More attendees also made it harder to find venues with enough hotel rooms for people and rooms large enough to hold sessions. The hard decision to change the dog policy to service dogs only.
Other changes over the years: all short sessions to long sessions in the morning and short sessions in the afternoon; the addition of a science track; “general “ sessions to ensuring that there were sessions for developing the new trainer to piquing the curiosity of the most advanced and experienced professional; Saturday banquet night to Saturday entertainment and dancing; videotaping the conferences to CD/MP3 recordings; volunteer Border Collies to a full time conference staff with Border Collie support to run the conference; Premier sponsoring opening day keynote speaker; a three person conference planning group to a full complement conference committee.
A change in my job responsibilities meant that I had to stop being deeply involved with the conference but I know that those left will continue the evolution to meet the needs of the APDT membership.