Thursday, August 2, 2012

How a Genealogy Conference Happens

Last weekend the Genealogical Council of Oregon held their bi-annual conference in Eugene, Oregon. The two key coordinators for the conference were Connie Lenzen, Conference Chair and Beverly Rice, Program Coordinator. Connie made the arrangements with the facility and kept track of progress in all areas of conference preparations. The conference was held for the third time at Lane Community College, Center for Meeting and Learning. It is a lovely venue and they included a nice lunch as part of the package. They provided site maps and a layout map for the vendor area.


Beverly made the arrangements for the speakers. Our key speaker was John Philip Colleta, who provided four great lectures. I attended his first afternoon lecture on "Using Artifacts in Genealogical Writing." He certainly captures his audience as he shares personal stories of genealogy discoveries. Michael J. Hall the Deputy Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch was another featured speaker. We had the privilege of hosting him on Friday night and attended his presentation "The Family History Journey of a Kansas Farm Boy," with a local Family History Center group. On Saturday I attended his first session, "Bones, Flesh and Soul: Going Beyond the Basics." It was a pleasure to have him participate and share his excitement for upcoming changes at FamilySearch. Another out of state presenter was Thomas MacEntee who did live Internet presentations focused on support for local societies. Other presenters were Hannah Allen, Melinda Henningfield, Jim Johnson, Leslie Lawson, Susan LeBlanc, Connie Lenzen, Beverly Rice and Eric Stroschein. With five classes to choose from in four sessions it was hard to decide which classes to attend.

Marcia Rice put together the Syllabus, which was printed by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. She compiled all of the presenter's handout material into a 122-page syllabus in two parts. An online version was available prior to the conference with full color pictures. This I quickly downloaded to my computer for future reference.

Mary Jean Crawford the GCO treasurer processed all registrations and spent most of the day at the registration desk. This is the fourth GCO Conference that I attended and the third one for which I worked as the coordinator of Vendors and Door Prizes/Promotional Materials. Kristen Bartell took care of the set up of the door prizes and made the area look very festive. Gerry Lenzen pitched in and helped with the sale of raffle tickets, drawing and handing out the prizes. There were several others who also helped out as needed. One crew helped fill the bags for the attendees the night before with all of the promotional materials.

Working with the vendors and other contributors began in February, once the venue was secured. For the vendors I determined the amount of tables available and began with the book vendor to ensure they had plenty of space. Next I contacted those who participated in the past and current GCO member societies. The tables were held on a first come basis after payment was received. The contacts for donations were sent out in April. All communications began with emails, but there were usually telephone contacts in the process of identifying how many attendees were expected and how best they could assist with the conference.

Our vendors for the conference were:
Association of Professional Genealogists, Oregon Chapter
Book Vendor, Heritage Quest Research Library, Sumner, WA - Jim Johnson
Benton County Genealogical Society - Margaret Fox
FamilyTree DNA - Emily Aulicino
Genealogical Forum of Oregon - Lyleth Winther
Glenada Odd Fellows Historic Cemetery Association - Suzanne Smith
National Institute for Genealogical Studies - Beverly Rice
Oregon Genealogy Society - Linda Aubrey
Rogue Valley Genealogical Society - Charles Eccleston
Stoney Way LLC - Janice Healey

Door Prize and Promotional Materials were donated by:
AncestorStuff.com - Larry Bohannan
Ancestry.com - Laura Power
FamilyChartMasters.com - Janet Havorka
FamilyChronicle.com - Rick
FamilySearch.org - Mike Hall
FamilyTreeDNA - Alexander Yi
Fold3.com - Gordon Atkinson
Genealogical.com - Erica L. Collins
GenealogyBank.com - Anna Blanc
LegacyFamilyTree.com - Geoff Rasmussen
Misbach Enterprises, Misbach.org - Matt Misbach
Rootsmagic.com - Bruce Buzbee
WorldVitalRecords.com - Mark Olsen
Leslie Lawson
Gerry and Connie Lenzen
Beverly Rice

The door prizes and promotional materials were valued at about $2600 and there were about sixty auction items. We are truly grateful for these generous donations.

As you can see from this post a genealogy conference happens with the work of many volunteers. Every conference is a little different, but the basic components are a coordinator, program coordinator, vendor organizer, door prize and promotional materials solicitor and receiver, set up crew, registration, table volunteers, clean up crew, etc. Have you considered becoming a part of the group of volunteers who make genealogy conferences happen? It is a great learning experience, you become better acquainted with all involved and you can help to ensure that the conferences will continue as a great learning experience for genealogists. Please take part in these wonderful opportunities.


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