From the Steering Committee:
Well, it’s fall. And it’s raining. And it’s getting colder as this day unfolds itself into the great gray wet mass that it’s determined to become. And that’s why I’m inside my favorite coffee shop fighting off the latte itters – oops, jitters, apparently the “j” key on my laptop has decided to go wonky – and thinking about this next iteration of the Plant Camp News Blog.
So…first things first. Huge hugs and thanks to Mr. Tom Oder, former Cullowhee Native Plant Conference Steering Committee member and business writer sans pareil. Creating and writing the blog last year was all Tom and we are grateful for his efforts. Onwards and upwards. I hope to fill at least part of one shoe as we proceed.
So we, your humble and faithful Steering Committee members, got together last month on the campus of Western Carolina University and began the process of generating next year’s Conference. It was a chunky 48 hours. I made the drive from 4 hours east, feeling my spirit lift as I ascended the asphalt ramp into mountain land. The drive up to Cullowhee always takes too long, an artefact of anticipation, one might suppose. Conversely the drive back is too quick, mountains into hills into the relatively flat center of this lovely state. But I digress.
The committee packs a fair bit of work into a day and a half. We met that Monday under a clouded, interesting sky, gathering around a conference table in the Camp Lab building on campus, and all gave a quick and silent thanks that there were enough outlets for our devices. It was just past lunch, the grilled cheese and fries from Cosmic Carry-out settling nicely in my tummy, a full tumbler of City Lights coffee at the ready, sleeves up. There are a dozen of us on the committee who, along with Bobby Hensley, Associate Director of Continuing Education at WCU and Julia Duvall, Public Communication Specialist, get together after the July Conference to groupthink next July. We met for 12 hours over two days and the agenda was ambitious.
We started off with a game of Twister out in the parking lot. Peter Loos won. Just kidding. We actually started off with a discussion of the Conference budget, marketing efforts and attendance. We continue to explore ways to get the word out about our excellent Conference. Fun fact: fully a third of last summer’s attendees were first timers! A goodly amount of time was spent going through the surveys. And yes, we all read every single comment. It is such a valuable tool and we on the committee genuinely appreciate the time those of you who responded to the survey took to help us better understand how we can help make the Conference better. Fun fact: it’s cold in Ramsey Center.
We continued our dissection of last summer and assembly of a framework for next. Field trips, field workshops and walks…very excited to share the return of the Campus Tree ID walk! It was a favorite of mine back when Dr. Pitillo took us around. Big thanks to Adam and Peter for agreeing to lead. We began the process of gathering names for our plenary and concurrent sessions. Thank you all who provided suggestions through the survey and social media. This is a long and sometimes slow climb as we all continue to try and recruit interesting and interested folks for these sessions. It is why we all keep coming back, all that sharing. My brain hurts just thinking about it. It’s a good hurt.
Our time together was brief, but well worth it. We launched ourselves into the second day with a discussion of our Scholarship program, poster sessions, Lunch ‘n’ Learn, performances, talent show, food and beverages…Fun fact: caffeine withdrawal is a real thing. Vendors, accommodations, Plants of Promise, Projects of Promise, the Tom Dodd Award…And just like that it was well past lunch. My tummy was rumbly and there was a beautiful hill to descend.
Rest assured there will be a 38th CNPC and it will be a blast. You should go ahead and put the dates in/on your calendar: July 22-25, 2020. Stay tuned for names of speakers for next year as we confirm folks on our end. Hope to let y’all know some details in the next blog entry. It is an honor being a part of this tribe. Thanks for your kind attention. Please spread the good word when you can. We’ll check in with you next month.