Well, first of all they couldn’t have picked a better venue! We are being housed at the historic Seelbach hotel, known for being a famous hangout spot during prohibition for the likes of Al Capone as well as garnering a mention in The Great Gatsby and being used for filming in the movie The Hustler with Paul Newman. So atmosphere alone makes the place cooler than cool.
When I got here, the wonderful staff of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife were quick to share their Unbridled Spirit by welcoming everyone to town with a night out on the town via 4th Street Live, beginning at Howl on the Moon for music and food and ending at Sports and Social for some late night bowling. Honestly I am surprised that so many of us made it to bed before the witching hour (or that we made it to the early morning session!)
Day 1 consisted mostly of Environmental Education (presented by John Tyson) and why we need to make sure to get our children outside, before they become corrupted by those magic boxes that tell them that it’s ok that 17% of kids are now obese. There are 37 Project Wild offices around the country and many of these are now expanding to include the Growing Up Wild program aimed at children 3-7 years of age. I think it’s a great program and can’t wait to share it with our education leaders in Georgia.
Second session was all about generational diversity, and I am not just talking about the old versus the young. Col. Milligan from Kentucky LE broke down the generational gaps for us: Matures, , Gen-X and Millenials- which I know is confusing for so many these days. What was really interesting is that no matter what generation you come from, the sad thing we all have in common that we can all relate to is war. Col. Robert Milligan gave us all some great pointers and left us with so many things to think about that by the end my head was spinning from all the notes I’d taken.
Next Dr. Roger Cleveland from Millennium Learning Concepts LLC taught us what diversity truly means. We learned that this highly over-used term can refer to anything from educational achievement to religious preference, to height, age, weight, sexual orientation, political affiliation to communication style. As communicators, it is our job not only to understand how to reach out to new and different audiences for recruitment, but also to make sure our workforce stays relevant and diverse as well.
The face of our country is changing – referred to as “the browning of America” and I think that as wildlife agencies and communicators we have to embrace that, but without alienating our current constituencies. There was a lot of discussion about this, in context especially considering all the anti-immigration sentiment going on right now. It really came down to money though. so far in 2010 the combined buying power of people of color (black, hispanic, other) totals $2 trillion!!! That outpaces white spending by 80%.
By the end of the afternoon we were all ready for a little fun, which again the Kentucky staff came through for us, loading us into vans and ferrying us to the beautiful Churchill Downs. Having never been to an actual Derby, I was awed by the massive size and the tangible history. You could feel this spirit all around you. Very cool. I of course was anxious to see find the engraved name of Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown winner, amongst all the others and clapped like a little girl when I did find it. After our tour, which included the grounds and millionaire row, we saw the museum and then sat down to a lovely dinner and live auction, Derby style. Too bad I didn’t wear my derby hat, but I still had a great time helping the ACI board out with minnow races, a fishing game and a dice game for raffle prizes. I swear those Arkansas boys fixed the minnow races however since my minnow refused to move every time I was challenged by anyone! By the end of the night, everyone was almost too sleepy to climb back on the busses to head back to the hotel, but again this morning we all arrived bright and early for this morning’s sessions on social media.
Well it is time for my contribution to the session so I will sign off for now. Be sure to follow our tweets at #ACILIVE or just @kristinasummer if you’re curious for updated before my next post from the world of conservation information!!