And That's a Wrap ............
What a rewarding and unique experience this year's NGAUS Conference was.
The general business meetings and trade show were held in the McCormick Place in Chicago. With 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space and 600,000 square feet of meeting room pace, the McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America. All conference events were huge. The Governor’s Reception in the famed Field Museum was a delight with awe inspiring exhibits of dinosaurs, elephants and big cats and displays of life on earth millions of years ago. Another big event, and one that has proved to be one of the most popular since its inception several years ago, was the Southeast Conference (SEC) hospitality party held at Chicago’s House of Blues. Hundreds of conference attendees were treated to food, drink, and a live disco band whose music brought out the dancing fever in everyone.
Arkansas was honored with eight NGAUS awards during the conference, the most received by any of the states. The 100 Percent NGAUS Membership Plaque was presented to Major General Bill Wofford and NGAA President Erica Ingram (the ninth consecutive year our association earned that award). Individual awards were presented to four Arkansas National Guard members: Lieutenant Colonel Damon Cluck received the Distinguished Service Medal and Major Bridgette Scott, Captain Seana Warner, and Captain Rex Thomen received the Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award. Senator John Boozman was recipient of the Montgomery Medal, the second highest award presented by NGAUS. The 189th Airlift Wing received the Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque, and the 189th Mission Support Group was awarded the Mission Support Trophy.
The conference boasted exceptional leaders and speakers. NGAA President Erica Ingram has written an excellent article that appears in the September issue of the NGAA newsletter giving more information about the conference and the value of being a member of our state and national associations (the newsletter is posted on this website). And, the NGAUS Conference photo gallery (also on this website) captures many of the events.
Chicago is home to three million people, and the congestion of people and traffic resulted in transportation issues for attendees getting to and from the hotel and convention center and other event locations and was something everyone had to work through each day. Nonetheless, it was a most enjoyable time for all.
What about next year? The 137th NGAUS General Conference and Exhibition will be held at the Gaylord Hotel, September 10th through 13th, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. Many of this year’s attendees as well as others are already making plans to attend. If you think the McCormick Place was large, wait till you see the Gaylord. All the attendees from the fifty-four states, territories and district will be able to stay in this magnificent facility. The convention center is co-located with the Gaylord, and rumor has it that Charlie Daniels will be the opening act at the first business session! So, mark your calendar and let’s bring the biggest delegation ever!
Finally, planning for the 2015 NGAA General Conference and Exhibition is already underway. The conference is scheduled April 17th through 19th, 2015, at the Holiday Inn and Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale. More information will be forthcoming soon. Meanwhile, we hope you will put it on your schedule to join us for that time of fun and fellowship and conduct of the association's business.
NGAA Executive Director