A view of the 2014 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention - the largest regional poultry show in the U.S.
I'm writing this on the way home from the International Poultry and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, a huge international poultry show with exhibits, education and networking. I haven't attended this particular event in years (probably at least 15!) so it was really beneficial for me to check it out.
Part of my job at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association is to coordinate a large, regional trade show and conference for the poultry industry every year - the Midwest Poultry Federation (MPF) Convention - so often I was looking at IPPE through the eyes of a meeting planner. Details are king to me when creating and managing an event this size - from signage to rooms sets to how registration flows and how the accompanying mobile app works; it's all important to make sure the attendee experience is positive.
I also enjoyed running into many people in the poultry industry that I know - some I see more often than others but no matter what, we always catch up on the latest news and happenings.
For many in agriculture, attending events like these serve multiple purposes:
Education - The poultry farmers I work with look forward to all the education opportunities we provide them at the MPF Convention. We have multiple workshops for the different species - chickens, turkeys and egg layer hens - as well as segments for production, processing, breeding and more. I know that farmers are busy with their own businesses throughout the year, so to be able to take a day or two and get up to speed on the latest production methods, technology and more is important.
Exhibits - It's also key for farmers to spend some time in our exhibit hall, visiting with companies and checking out new and existing products. I would venture to say that farmers can - and often do - learn just as much in the exhibit hall as they do in education sessions.
Networking - The general public probably doesn't think too much about the need for farmers to "network" with other farmers, but it's absolutely true. We all, in our own careers, find great value in meeting people, talking about what we do, and learning from each other. When we survey attendees at the MPF Convention about what they like best about our show, hands down it is the person-to-person contact and friendships with others in the industry that have the greatest impact.
2014 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention
Winter is THE busy meetings season for agriculture organizations, whether it's your local Farm Bureau, a national event like IPPE or one of the other commodity organizations, or specialized groups like Common Ground, which brings together farm blogger women. And, of course, there are so many other conferences, trade show and events!
I have spent 20 years organizing our regional convention and have seen our event grow by leaps and bounds. I have also seen what a positive impact an event like ours has on farmers, as they get together, learn, explore, and talk about the challenges and rewards of raising poultry. I highly recommend you take advantage of one or more of these types of in-person opportunities - whether it is local, regional or national.
Are you attending a conference this winter? If so, what do you like best about these agriculture-focused events?