By Leo Nieter, AMS First-Time Attendee Stipend Recipient
I am grateful to have received a stipend to help attend the 2018 Ag Media Summit in Phoenix as a first-time attendee. My experiences throughout the week were inspiring, encouraging, educational, and rewarding in ways I hadn’t anticipated. The attendees from across the country were all warm, welcoming, and eager. I felt included from the first moment by both old AAEA friends and colleagues, as well as new friends and contacts, and felt that my thoughts and questions were valued, even as an AMS newcomer.
The conference presenters were knowledgeable and dynamic, and in a few cases it was actually tough to choose between offerings. The sessions not only piqued my interest, but held my attention and enabled me to think more deeply about the nature of my own design, photography, writing, and a well-balanced range of other topics. In three connecting sessions, I was inspired by John McWade’s exploration of recent design challenges that included his own helpful resolutions and suggestions. Having read several of McWade’s books and subscribing to his own Before & After magazine, his presentations were a real bonus.
The organizational dynamics were also thoughtfully planned. From the facilities, to scheduling, to recognition and awards, to exhibitors, to opportunities for social connections (including meeting IFAJ, ACE and ACT members), the entire event flowed smoothly. It was very easy to forget about the minutia of traveling and simply focus on learning, growing, and becoming more involved in this great organization.
I also attended my first association business meeting, where I learned about the issues pertaining to the group’s membership category constitutional changes. I observed what proved to be an intelligent, thoughtful discourse, and took pride in casting my first vote as a member. I was impressed by the professionalism and passion that AAEA members showed for their work, and feel honored to be part of a group that cares so deeply about their mission.
In all, my first AMS experience was invigorating. I look forward to sharing my energy for this event with other attendees, new and returning, in future years. Thank you for this amazing opportunity and experience!