Changeover Event: A time for reflection on the past year and visualizing the year to come

 

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PDG Ingrid Neitsch pins DG Tracey Vavrek during Changeover Event on June 27

For outgoing District Governor Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West), the District Changeover held on June 27 was an opportunity to reflect on the previous 12 months and highlight the many achievements of 2018-2019.

For incoming District Governor Tracey Vavrek (RC of Grande Prairie After Five), it was a chance to set the agenda for the next Rotary year.

Before passing the title of District Governor to Tracey, Ingrid described her “fabulous adventure” to approximately 200 Rotarians from across the District who were in attendance at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre in Edmonton.

“It has been my honour and privilege to lead and represent this District,” she said. “Our theme was ‘Be the Inspiration!’ I set out to inspire our members, and our members inspired me! The commitment and passion that I witnessed first-hand is unforgettable.”

Of her visits to the 57 clubs in our District, she said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the many community tours and community events, some of which were unique.”

Ingrid recalled that a year earlier, at the June 2018 changeover event, she had presented her vision and plan for 2018-2019. “I explained our District planning process and the integrated Strategic Plan. I announced a new direction and initiative and outlined important goals I wanted our District to accomplish.”

Becoming a Peacebuilder District

IMG_7170The major goal for this past year was to be recognized as a Peacebuilder District by Rotary International, for which a donation of US$25,000 to support RI’s Peace Centres was a key criteria. The support for this initiative exceeded Ingrid’s expectations.

“I am absolutely thrilled by the support from our clubs, individuals and District. YES! We achieved Peacebuilder status — for TWO years!”

“Peace Centres provide an opportunity for individuals who have been sponsored and strenuously vetted by a Rotary District, to be chosen to attend a three-month peace certificate or a two-year master’s program in peace and conflict resolution, all paid for by Rotary.”

Menasha Nikhanj from Edmonton is currently enrolled in the three-month professional certificate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Ingrid promises that achieving a Peacebuider District is just the beginning. “We will continue to develop peace building activities and sessions during this next year,” she says.

“As a result of our new collaborative work with our educational institutions, the University of Alberta and Concordia University hosted an open-to-the public peace building session which was well received. Another project is planned for next year.”

RI will also maintain its focus on peace building. “At the Peace Symposium in Hamburg (held in connection with 2019 RI Convention), senior Rotary leaders announced that steps are being taken to have Rotary become a world leader in peace building,” Ingrid said.

Goals set, goals achieved

Other 2018-2019 goals related to membership, creating awareness of The Rotary Foundation (TRF), enhancing Rotary’s public image, and celebrating our youth programs.

The year saw the establishment of several new clubs, including a new Interact Club at W.P. Wagner High School (sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona); the Rotaract Club of Concordia University (sponsored by Edmonton Northeast); a satellite club of the Rotary Club of Dawson Creek) in Chetwynd, B.C.; and the YEG Passport Club (sponsored by Edmonton Whyte Avenue).

In addition, two existing clubs in Whitehorse, YT became part of our District on July 1. 

Ingrid congratulated the TRF team, led by chair Wayne Kauffman (RC of Edmonton Riverview), for its efforts to create awareness of the foundation’s good work.

“All the funds donated support projects by our clubs around the world, in the form of grants.”

Related to public image, Ingrid noted that the District “created a communications plan to develop and improve our public image in our District and the community.”

In part, this was achieved through Ingrid’s posts to the District Facebook page, increased social media engagement, articles on the District blog, Rotary International District 5370 News and a District newsletter.

Inspire, our District newsletter, went to each District member, not just the presidents, so everyone received the same information at the same time,” she said.

“We made a concentrated effort to expand community awareness of Rotary.  Presentations were made to several community groups and we began a collaborative project with the University of Alberta, which will expand next Rotary year.

“We had significant coverage of Rotary stories in the capital region newspapers in print and online, and in community papers around the District.”

Shifting to youth programs, Ingrid said, “We have outstanding opportunities for our youth to participate in many activities, such as the RYLA, RYLE, RYPEN programs.

“We did a lot of work to ensure that our youth exchange program is directly aligned and compliant with Rotary International guidelines, with everyone involved with our youth programs having a mandatory security check.”

DG Tracey lays out her plans for 2019-2020

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Following Ingrid’s summary of 2018-2019, it was Tracey’s turn to reveal her vision for 2019-2020.

“It is an honour to stand before you as your governor for 2019-20. I am humbled to step into the shoes of Ingrid and others, and also appreciate the support of each of you through this Rotary journey,” she said.

Throughout her presentation, Tracey emphasized that the world needs Rotary and Rotarians.

“People identify Rotary for our service, our dedication to make change for others, and for our commitment to eradicate polio,” she said. 

“You have stepped up to make your communities a better place. You tackle problems and find solutions for tough issues. You explore ideas and share a vision to make life better for others. Your passion, drive and desire to make a difference inspires me,” she said.

“When people of all ages, cultures and demographics invest time and money into something, it is with organizations that do good in the world. People commit to a cause, not an organization.”

Rotary: 114 years-old and still strong

Tracey believes that there are reasons why Rotary continues to be relevant.

“Rotary is 114 years old and has stood the test of time due to its values, objectives and service, both locally and globally, plus for our dedication to eradicating polio.”

T1920EN_PMS-CShe noted that RI has adapted to changing times, which is in contrast to other organizations that have failed to do so. She cited Kodak as a company which resisted change and as result has lost the leadership position it once occupied.

“For Rotary to stay relevant, we at the club and District level must focus on our culture and adapting to the needs of our members,” Tracey said.

“Culture is how people feel when they are part of something that is important to them. Culture is created and is the base of moving from good to great. Culture is an environment of welcoming, inclusiveness, diversity; where people feel a sense of belonging, feel valued. And (it) is a place built on trust. We serve together in many ways with the common goal—to make a difference for others—and when we do this, we build relationships and connect with people of like interest.”

Tracey said that the 2019-2020 theme, “Rotary Connects the World,” means  that, “We share values and follow the four-way test, we collectively take action for a better world and we are doing this together,” she said.  

“Rotary provides us with the means and opportunities to connect with the world and each other. Rotary connects us to people who need our help, and through Rotary we are connected globally through countless projects and programs.”

People of Action together creating positive change

Tracey asked the Rotarians in the audience to image a world without Rotary: “Imagine what would happen to polio if we stopped now. Imagine the people who would go hungry in our own communities or around the world. Imagine the children who would not have the extra support to reach their dreams.  The children of today and of tomorrow need Rotary.

“RI has given us the tools to be successful and has provided flexibility to do things differently with meeting structure and attendance, and (it) encourages us to invite our families to be part of our journey.

“When you see the difference we have made for children, families and communities around the world by our commitment, we know we have changed lives. We have given others opportunities and most of all, we have given people hope. 

“And that’s Rotary. People of action who come together to make positive change in themselves and around the world.”  

Tracey concluded her presentation by encouraging Rotarians to register for the District 5370 People of Action Conference in Grande Prairie October 3-5, 2019.  

“This is your conference and a place to connect, grow and to be inspired.” 

Spring 2019 Leadership Assembly prepared incoming club leaders for the next Rotary year

This spring’s Leadership Assembly (March 8 and 9) was an opportunity to celebrate the successes of 2018-2019 and set the table for the next Rotary year, which begins on July 1.

Approximately 175 Rotarians attended this event, including District leaders and club presidents-elect and members of their leadership teams, including for the first time, the presidents-elect of Rotary Clubs of Whitehorse and Whitehorse Rendezvous. 

Effective July 1, these two Yukon clubs will become part of District 5370.

District Governor-Elect Tracey Vavrek used the assembly to introduce the 2019-2020 theme set by incoming Rotary International President Mark Maloney (RC of Decatur, Alabama): Rotary Connects the World.

Watch as Mark announces the theme to DGEs at the International Assembly in San Diego in January and read about the course he has mapped out for Rotary’s future in an interview in the March 2019 issue of The Rotarian.

“When you reflect on the theme, what comes to mind?” Tracey asked.

T1920EN_PMS-C“For me, it is that we share values and follow the Four-Way Test, we collectively take action for a better world, and we are doing this together,” she said.

“We connect with friends we would never otherwise have met. Rotary connects us to people who need our help and through Rotary we are connected globally through countless projects and programs.”

“The world needs Rotary. As you reflect on the unrest and challenges around the world, it is concerning. We know the work we do and our service do create peace within families, communities and around the world. By bringing fresh water to a community, we bring peace and economic wellbeing to the individuals living there.”

Tracey referred to being part of the Project Amigo work week in mid-February with past and future District Governors as “an example of how we connect with others. It’s life-changing—we are helping people reach their dreams.”

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DGE Tracey Vavrek introduced the 2019-2020 theme during Spring Leadership Assembly

She also asked participants in the assembly to imagine a world without Rotary. “Imagine what would happen with polio if we stopped now. Imagine the people who would go hungry in our own communities and around the world. Imagine the children who would not have extra support to reach their dreams. The children of today and of tomorrow need Rotary.”

Continue to grow Rotary

Tracey asked participants to think about how to grow Rotary.

“Membership is a critical topic,” she said, noting the importance of attracting younger people to Rotary. “Only five per cent of Rotary members are under the age of 40.”

“Few organizations span generations and professions and build personal connections the way Rotary does. We blend tradition with innovation and use trust and respect to close the generation gap.”

“Many of us have been able to get younger generations to visit a meeting or participate in a project but getting them to join our clubs has been more difficult,” Tracey said.

She stated that Rotary can offer younger people what they want. “They crave connections—a network of more experienced professionals, mentors with insight, with clout. They also crave experiences. They want to do good.” 

PDG and Zone Membership Coordinator Jim Adamson from Washington State (District 5060) followed up Tracey’s presentation by reminding participants of the importance of inviting the right people to join Rotary.

“None of us would have joined Rotary if someone hadn’t asked us. We need to ask them,” he said.

“We aren’t just looking for bodies. We are looking for quality people.”

DG Ingrid highlights 2018-2019 successes

Current DG Ingrid used her time on the stage to “share some highlights of our Rotary year to-date and emphasize the need to follow through on current plans.

“My District Governor journey has been amazing, engaging and rewarding—confirming the true value of Rotary and why we are doing this service work. I am immensely proud to be a Rotarian and the District Governor of this District.”

Ingrid’s favourite experiences so far this year?

“Absolutely, it has been visiting our clubs, engaging in our community projects, and connecting with our members.”

She has visited all 57 clubs, making repeat visits to some.

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DG Ingrid Neitsch highlighted successes during 2018-2019 during Spring Leadership Assembly

“Each area of our District is unique and the range of projects is astounding. Some clubs shine with their welcoming atmosphere and signature projects. Some clubs are passionate about international projects and concentrate on fundraising. Some clubs focus mainly on keeping current members engaged in fellowship and attracting new members. Some clubs have chosen to focus on aligning Rotary projects with peace-building activities. Some clubs collaborate, support other clubs’ projects and focus on hands-on projects.”

She emphasized that the culture and value base established in the club is what keeps members engaged.

Highlights Ingrid identified were:

“The District Conference 2018 was fabulous! Some clubs are still following-up with some of our amazing speakers. Thanks to all who participated as volunteers, conference committee members or attendees.”

She reminded her audience of the 2019 District Conference that will be held in Grande Prairie October 3-5.

A second highlight was the relocation of the District office to the Orange Hub in west Edmonton. “It’s a bright, cheerful space accessible to all, with security and maintenance in place.”

Ingrid also referred to the goals in the District strategic plan. “Many goals are completed, some are in progress and some are ongoing.”

She encouraged clubs to create their own plans. “To be change-makers, your club needs a plan of action.”

“One of the main goals this year is to reverse the declining membership trends these past several years. I mentioned that in every single one of my club visits. Every club was asked to retain the current membership and attract three new members,” she said.

“I want to regain the minus 110 members lost last year, plus make a net gain of 50 members by the end of June.”

She urged club leaders to “treat your membership list like a gift. Just because you haven’t seen someone for a while, do not take them off your list. Reach out. Find out what is happening in their world. They are Rotarians and at one time were passionate about Rotary.”

The District membership plan includes establishing new clubs, including the Passport club which is being formed in Edmonton. “We are launching a new Passport club for new and former Rotarians and plan to charter it before June 1.”

5370 reached goal to become a Peacebuilder District

IMG_8851A key District initiative for 2018-2019 was for the District to become a Peacebuilder District, which Ingrid announced during the District changeover event on June 11, 2018, and to sponsor a peace scholar.

“We achieved the peace scholar, as was announced at the District Conference. Out of 1,100 applicants from around the world, only 50 master’s and 30 certificate applicants were chosen, including our applicant, Menasha Nikhanji.

The goal of becoming a Peacebuilder District was also reached.

“We needed to donate $US 25,000 to the Rotary Peace Centres to receive Peacebuilder status within Rotary International. “We have had tremendous support. Clubs and individuals donated close to $24,000, which along with $20,000 in District Designated Funds brings us close to $50,000,” Ingrid says.

“We have reached the goal for this year and are very close to two years of support for the Peace Centres.”

Ingrid closed with words of encouragement for the rest of 2018-2019:  “Let’s finish strong! Keep the positive momentum going, finish blazing our trail and we will continue to flourish as we inspire each other as ‘Rotary Connects the World!’ ”

Recruiting new members and creating new clubs are key to meeting our 
2018-2019 membership goal

group  people  shape  graphWhen asked about District 5370 membership numbers, the District membership committee chair responds with just two words: “Extremely volatile!”

“These numbers have gone up and down, from up 20 to down 20, in a period of six weeks,” says Jeff Reynolds (RC of Edmonton Glenora).

“In terms of the long-term trend we are declining, but we have some opportunities to grow,” he says.

District Governor Ingrid Neitsch has set a membership target of 2,080 by the end of her term on June 30—an increase of 60 members from where we were on July 1, 2018.

As of March 20, there were 2,016 Rotarians in the District.

Achieving this membership target can happen in three ways—by retaining current Rotarians, by attracting new members to existing clubs, and by establishing new clubs where none exist or that are structured differently than existing ones.

To assist clubs in their efforts to grow their membership, Jeff recently recorded a webinar for membership chairs, presidents and other Rotarians who understand the importance of maintaining and increasing our numbers.

Edmonton Strathcona is one of the clubs to have increased its membership in 2018-2019

During the webinar, Jeff highlights what membership chair Dr. Ellen Weber has done to attract new Rotarians to her club, Edmonton Strathcona. As of the end of January, it  had increased by six members. 

 “What (members of the Edmonton Strathcona Club) have been doing is focusing on truly authentic engagement with their members,” Jeff says. “It’s been done one-on-one, by asking:

  • What things do you really value?
  • What do you enjoy about the Rotary club?
  • What things do you want to get praise for?
  • What do you wonder about?

“There has to be a value proposition in Rotary. It has to be worth their while. There has to be an opportunity for them to contribute in a meaningful way—for them to be heard, felt and appreciated.”

Ellen regularly blogs about what’s working in Edmonton Strathcona.

Other clubs that have led the way in growing members so far in 2018-2019 are the Rotary Clubs of Dawson Creek (+9), Dawson Creek Sunrise (+4) and Edmonton West (+7).

“We are going to look closely at what these clubs are doing,” Jeff says. “What is their secret sauce?”

In addition to efforts to retain current members and grow existing clubs, initiatives are in place to charter new clubs.

Passport club will offer opportunity to serve without weekly meetings

Furthest along toward being chartered is a “passport” club in Edmonton, which is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Edmonton Whyte Avenue.

In the February issue of INSPIRE, the District’s newsletter, DG Ingrid described a passport club as “a club offering members opportunities to make a difference locally and globally in a way that fits within their time, talents, finances and lifestyle, with fewer meetings but multiple service opportunities, social gatherings, affordable dues and access to Rotary activities and resources.”

Members of passport clubs are full Rotary members, paying membership dues to Rotary International and the District, but without weekly meeting costs, and enjoying the same privileges and rights as Rotarians in traditional clubs.

Area Governor Marilyn Mucha (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue), who is leading this initiative, says that nearly 35 people have expressed interest in this club structure.

“The flexible and affordable format is appealing to former Rotarians,” Marilyn says. “Almost 60 per cent (of the prospective members) are past Rotarians from clubs in the Edmonton area and another 30 per cent are non-Rotarians.” There are also a few current Rotarians who have expressed interest in the passport model.

The provisional club has had two meetings, so far. 

“We heard many positive comments from those in attendance like, ‘this is definitely easier for me to afford,” and ‘I can make this work with my busy schedule,’ as well as ‘I missed the friendships that I made in Rotary,’” Marilyn says.

“Many shared stories of their past service projects,” she says. “The buzz is spreading and we are getting past Rotarians reaching out to family and work colleagues (asking them) to consider joining them.”

It is anticipated the club will have monthly meetings, of which only four will be business meetings. Remaining meetings will be social events or for working on service projects. There will minimum expectations in terms of volunteer hours each year.

“Members will have a ‘passport’ to work on service projects and fundraisers with any club in our District, or the globe,” Marilyn says.

Once 20 or more people commit to join the new club, it will be ready to be chartered. 

“We anticipate that the club will reach charter strength before the end of this Rotary year,” Marilyn says. “A charter committee will be struck to start the process of leveraging available bylaws from other passport clubs in North America.”

They also hope to learn from the experiences of other passport clubs.

“We reached out to a number of the existing and newly chartered passport clubs in the U.S. and Canada to arrange a gathering while we are attending the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg, this June,” Marilyn says. “Both Markus Muhs and I will be there to learn how these clubs are succeeding and what challenges they overcame.”

She encourages Rotarians to spread the word about the passport clubs. “If you know of members of your club that have left for a variety of reasons, let them know about what the passport club is all about. Perhaps this club model will appeal to them and we will see them inspired to become ‘People of Action’ again.”

Information about the next passport club meeting will be posted on the District’s Facebook page.

Other potential new clubs include a passport club for the Municipal District of Greenview in northwest Alberta, which includes the communities of Valleyview, Fox Creek and Grande Cache, and more traditional clubs in St. Paul and Bonneyville, in northeast Alberta.

Meet Rotarians from other clubs this fall, in Montreal or Edmonton

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If you missed the Rotary International Convention in Toronto in June but are looking to experience Rotary beyond the club level, here is some good news for you.

There will be two opportunities this fall to join gatherings of Rotarians from other clubs.

First, there is the Zones 24 and 32 Conference in Montreal, September 20 – 22. A month later, the District 5370 Conference will be held in Edmonton.

The zone conference is a first-time event. In the past, participation in zone institutes was pretty much limited to those in leadership roles at the district and zone level, but this year in Montreal will be different.

“This year’s committee decided they wanted to open it up to more people than just future, current and past District Governors and other district leaders,” says Laura Morie (RC of Westlock), who was District Governor in 2016-17.

There will still be a training component for District Governor nominees, District Governors-elect and current District Governors, which was an important reason for zone institutes in the past, but there will also be sessions that will appeal to all Rotarians.

“The conference will provide attendees with a macro view of Rotary, where they can see the global reach and positive potential of collaborating outside your own sphere,” Laura says.

“There will be breakout sessions related to membership, The Rotary Foundation and public image, and this year we have a focus on developing our youth and the programs we offer.”

Laura and District 5370 Youth Services Chair Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) have been invited to play a key role in the youth component of the conference.

“We are going to do the Rotaract portion. Our District has been fully involved in the youth programs for the last 10 years, since youth services became an avenue of service. We have had tremendous success. We actually have more Interact and Rotaract clubs in the District than we do Rotary clubs,” Laura says.

Scholarships available for youth participation in the Zone Conference

To encourage youth participant, District 5370 is offering 10 scholarships to support the attendance of young Rotary leaders, aged 18 to 25, to attend Rotary NOW. 

The scholarships include registration, accommodation and airfare.

Two additional scholarships are available for Rotarians aged 26 to 40 to attend the convention.

Ask your club president or youth services chair for additional information, which Tamara has sent to both. You can also contact Tamara directly (Larson.tamarac@gmail.com or 587-783-8880).

During two days of interactive sessions, youth participants will share thoughts on education and literacy, human rights, the environment, employment and social justice, through innovative working groups, inspirational speakers and service project opportunities.

On Friday, September 21, which is International Peace Day, the young Rotary leaders will have the opportunity to work with a Rotary Peace Fellow and to learn about Peace Fellowships, and Rotary Peace Centres.

The scholarship application process requires interested young people to write an essay, in which they describe their Rotary career path, including past and present roles and responsibilities along with future goals, and how attending the zone conference will support them in achieving their Rotary goals and objectives.

Applications for scholarships should be emailed to Tamara at youthawards5370@gmail.com by August 15.

In addition to encouraging young people to apply for District scholarships, Laura has another suggestion for clubs. “We would like different clubs to decide that, over and above the District initiative to get kids there, perhaps the club could see its way to sponsoring a dynamic young person who they feel has a Rotary career ahead of them,” she says. 

“The registration fee is $275. There are hostels, so accommodation is $120 and whatever the airfare is. Ballpark $1,000 per person. This might be a Rotaractor or a Rotarian in early career, who will be able to bring ideas back and take action.”

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District 5370 Conference October 18 – 21

The second opportunity to attend a multi-club event will be the District 5370 Conference, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, October 18 – 21.

“Planning for the conference is actually coming along really well,” says conference chair Spencer Mueller (RC of Edmonton West). 

“Our committee has been working on putting the conference together for well over a year and a half. Now, we are at the stage of putting the final touches on things,” he says.

“We have an excellent venue in the Shaw Conference Centre. Our conference will be occurring at a wonderful time in the river valley and our speaker lineup is incredibly strong, featuring fantastic topics and speakers from all over the world.

The conference kicks off Thursday evening with a Peace Building dinner, which reflects the priority District Governor Ingrid Neitsch has placed on District 5370 becoming a Rotary Peacebuilding District. Additional details will be released shortly about the dinner, which is being held in conjunction with the annual Paul Harris Society dinner. There’s a separate registration fee for this event.

Both Friday and Saturday will include a full schedule of keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

“Now, the big focus is on getting people to continue to register,” says Spencer. “We realize that for many people things slow down and Rotary takes a bit of a lower priority during the summer months. We’re hoping for a strong response when people get back into routine after the September long weekend.”

The committee is offering a special reduced registration rate for those who have never attended a District conference. “We’re really trying to encourage both Rotarians and non-Rotarians to attend the conference. In our lineup there’s something for everybody. Our lineup of speakers is very strong, even in comparison to the Rotary International convention in Toronto,” Spencer says.

The registration fee includes access to the House of Friendship, breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, and the Governor’s Ball on Saturday evening.

“The Governor’s Ball will have a 1920s theme. We have a wonderful live, large band, the Trocadero Orchestra, playing for the event. It’s going to be a great way to wrap up this Rotary Conference.”

Spencer encourages Rotarians to visit the conference website. “All the details and registration information are on that website and people can register right from there. 

RI president’s rep and others praise District Conference as “inspirational” and a “wonderful experience”

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MC Brent Collingwood (RC of Edmonton Riverview) opened the 2017 District Conference held September 29 and 30 in Fort McMurray by asking the 250 Rotarians in attendance: “Why do we come to a District Conference?”

By the beginning of the second day, each of his four reasons had been achieved.

  1. We come to reconnect with fellow Rotarians we may not have seen for a while and to bond with new Rotarians, because Rotary is about forming friendships and professional connections.
  2. We come to learn from others, whether in the House of Friendship or from some of the Rotary projects you’ll hear about from the stage.
  3. We come to hear amazing speakers telling their personal stories of courage—because no challenge is too big for us.
  4. We come wanting to learn, and we leave wanting to do, because Rotary is about taking action to create lasting change.

Other attendees concurred with Brent’s assessment that the conference fulfilled its promise of an opportunity to reconnect, learn and listen to amazing speakers.

Mary Drader (RC of Drayton Valley) said she “enjoyed this conference immensely. I found the speakers to be very inspirational.”

Fran Milberg (RC of Thomasville, GA) also gave the conference and District high marks. “There’s nothing I haven’t liked, except maybe there was a little too much food. Otherwise, it has been a wonderful experience. I met friendly, wonderful people and I have been very comfortable with them.”

Fran, who is a past District Governor for District 6900, which includes about one-third of the state of Georgia, including the city of Atlanta, attended as a representative of Rotary International President Ian Riseley.

“I’m very impressed with the District and what they do—their service projects and their Foundation giving,” she said. “I’m just so impressed with this community and District for how they’ve come together after the crisis that occurred in this town.”

Fran was also impressed by the lineup of speakers, which included David Dotson, who spoke about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Chris and Kathryn Linford, who work with veterans suffering from PTSD and their families, former Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen, and 2010 Olympian and Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery.

Fran was one of those who took Montgomery up on his invitation to hold the gold medal he won in skeleton. “I just loved touching that gold medal today and wearing it around my neck. I never realized that the gold medal was so heavy. I really enjoyed that and his presentation.”

Erwin Winwarkentin, a non-Rotarian from Vermilion, attending with his wife, felt that the order in which the speakers were scheduled was a factor in the success of the conference. “The idea of having the speakers in the sequence they were in was critical to the goal of communicating what they wanted to communicate. Having Jon at the end was critical to the whole thing. Having him in the beginning wouldn’t have made sense.”

Did you attend the Fort McMurray District Conference? What did you think? Add your impressions in the comment section below.

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2018 District Conference: Save the date . . . and save money by registering early

With the Fort McMurray District Conference a success, Rotarians can begin to look forward to next year’s conference. District Governor Elect Ingrid Neitsch (RC of Edmonton West) and her team have already set the day, booked the venue and lined up several speakers.

The conference will be held at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, October 18 – 20, 2018.

To learn more about what’s in store next fall for you, visit the conference website, which went live as the Fort McMurray conference ended. Register by November 4 to save $75.