2019 First Timer Annual Session Scholarship Recipient Reflections

Erin Jewell, Maryland 
In Extension, we all know that budgeting for professional development can be challenging. Receiving the NEAFCS First Timer Scholarship provided the reassurance and affirmation I needed when making the decision to attend the NEAFCS Annual Session. This scholarship provided me an opportunity to network with my peers from across the nation, discover programs applicable to my communities, speak with vendors showcasing the latest nutrition information or gadgets, and learn from the experiences of experts and novices. For all those first timers considering attending next year’s Annual Session, do not miss out on this opportunity! 
Latonya Ramsey, Mississippi
I really appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the 2019 NEAFCS conference and the marking of its 85th Anniversary. I connected with many members, their knowledge, and programming with the communities they serve. The conference program and wide range of sessions really made it hard to attend a first choice without feeling a little heart broke that I could not attend the second choice. However, with the contacts from the conference program book and app, I plan to reach out to FCS educators whose sessions I was not able to attend to become part of their listserv to learn more about their programming on my own. I learned about a network of free resources that are available to NEAFCS members to help strengthen FCS programming.  I was able to learn so much from educators across the U.S. and meet a longtime former extension agent whose now a hall of fame member from a neighboring county where I reside. The passion, energy, and connectedness of an NEAFCS annual conference first is nothing I have ever experienced before and seems to be a one of a kind in my book. There is nothing like getting training, asking questions, and having access to many NEAFCS family members in a firsthand experience. This conference experience continues to help me value my role in community education of FCS programming. The venue, sessions, and networking opportunities is incomparable to any I have had thus far. Two final word that describes the conference: EXCEPTIONAL & ENLIGHTENING! 

 Maren Wright Voss, Utah
As a new faculty member in Extension, I wasn’t quite sure if I should attend a national conference.  I’m not on any state committee’s and I’m too new to NEAFCS to have submitted a project to the conference.  But I decided to go to the conference so I could learn more about FCS and meet people with similar job roles.  My experience at NEAFCS was amazing.  The first-timer orientation was great—really useful in letting me know what the conference had to offer.  The state-night out was a great opportunity to network with other FCS agents across my state whom I don’t usually get to see.  For some reason, being at a national conference was a great way to form useful connections within my state.  New to FCS, I didn’t know there was a journal devoted to the subject.  At the exhibitions, the Journal of NEAFCS had a booth. I ended up joining the journal committee, and now have a place on a national committee.  Being a first-timer at NEAFCS while new in my FCS career has given me inside knowledge that will really help me develop the programs and opportunities needed in my community.  I would recommend it to anyone.

Gina Lucas, Missouri

The NEAFCS Annual Session exceeded my every expectation.  My goals were to learn about new programs that may help me in my programming, to meet professionals from other states and to get a broad view of how family and consumer science programming is moving the needle and changing lives.  I achieved all of those goals and more.  In one short week, I have built relationships that I value both professionally and personally.  I have found encouragement from others’ struggles and their solutions.  I was able to provide information to my state on a curriculum that we are considering adding to our existing programs.  I now have a clearer understanding of how NEAFCS is structured and how it relates to our region and state.  I was able to join a national committee and look forward to working collaboratively on a multi-state initiative that will benefit new professions throughout the organization.  I also had a wonderful time, relaxing, laughing and renewing.  As Roxie Price, our incoming NEAFCS president, pointed out, taking care of me is key to my being able to take care of others.  Attending each NEAFCS Annual Session will become a big part of my self-care moving forward.

Rhegan Derfus, Arizona
Attending the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences Annual Session was an experience I will carry with me throughout the rest of my professional career and personal life. When I originally submitted for the first-timers scholarship, I intended to build deeper relationships with my own State team and better understand the Association. I did not expect to be pleasantly overwhelmed with the kindness of strangers, to be offered opportunity to learn and engage at every corner and find myself truly belonging to a national group of people. Every person I interacted with was willing to answer questions about processes or history of their work with NEAFCS, with warmth, patience and kindness that I knew in existed in Arizona but was not expected to be consistent across NEAFCS in general. Being in such a comfortable and fun environment made learning more possible, as there were rich discussion and question/answer sessions in most workshops. The opportunities to learn about a variety of different topics were many vast. I wanted to duplicate myself and attend more workshops, or sit in on more workgroups because they were all interesting and valuable. I left the NEAFCS Annual Session with a renewed sense of vigor for the work, an appreciation of likeminded professionals, a reminder of how far authentic kindness can reach, and a commitment to supporting and participating in NEAFCS.