These are map geeks.
These are computer geeks.
These are my people.
As part of this organization's mission, they host an annual conference every year at a different location around the state of Wisconsin. This year was at Chula Vista Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. These conferences are the usual fare of educational workshops, user presentations, special interest groups, networking and social activities.
The past year I have been part of the Board of Directors for WLIA which is charged with a number of duties including putting together this conference. While I have been a member of the group for 20 years, I've learned more in the past year about all that goes into a conference. Here is a little of what we see and do at the conference.
|Frosted brownie map of WI land cover|
Every good GIS conference has a map gallery and WLIA is no different. Our conference actually hosts a map and poster contest where they have several categories of maps, small format, black and white, aerial and more. This year one entry was even an edible map - a frosted brownie with a map of land cover on it!
|A beatuifully done historic atlas|
Over 300 people attend this conference every year, and while I claim to be an introvert, nothing brings out the closet extrovert in me like getting together with old friends to talk shop, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. My boss' wife came to one of these conferences one year and, when she was done with a late evening of socializing with the GIS crowd, she said to him, "Do you
Because we deal with technology and trying to make flat maps fit in a round world, we get to play
|Stereo Pair Viewer|
Every year we hold a silent auction to benefit students pursuing degrees in GIS. This requires a fair amount of grovelling and pandering to get donations - much of which is my task as coordinator. This year we raised over $3500 on the auction and between that and the raffles we hold, we raised enough for four $1000.00 scholarships. Having two kids in college (soon enough) I know the importance of every dollar in scholarships.
|AllWriters Basket O' Books for Silent Auction|
On top of all of this, there were lots of people behind the scenes who, although they look calm on the exterior, are barely holding it together. They are the ones running between session rooms, their vehicles and the registration desk making sure their tasks are done. Without them, there is no conference. With them, the attendees have a better experience.
Furthermore there is one woman who makes sure that everything runs smoothly and while she doesn't do it all, she is the go-to for so much of it. I have nothing but admiration for her calm demeanor and her authoritarian approach to things. When she gets on the phone to the hotel staff, SHIT HAPPENS. (Pardon my profanity.) I think every conference has one, but we have the best.
So as I spend the next couple of days recovering from "social overload," I want to remember how much I do enjoy and learn at these events. It's all good stuff, even for a closet extrovert.