My chapters have always been unique in how they operate, yet each successful in their own way. This winter’s education conferences brought this to light. Oregon and Western Washington normally host their annual conference during the early part of December. With COVID, this has caused each of them to go virtual. However, the delivery of the education could not be more different.
Oregon decided to go with a live conference spread over six days and two weeks. All for just one price point of $100. If one attends all six events, they will receive 12 Oregon or Washington pesticide CEUs. If they attend only a select number of events, then they will only receive points for those events attended.
Alexis Wenker, Oregon’s executive director, did a great job preparing the speakers. She purchased the GoTo Webinar platform and made sure that she was well versed in the program. She was able to schedule multiple practice days with the presenters which gave them confidence and helped the seminar run smoothly. I was able to help her behind the scenes by monitoring questions from the attendees.
When all was said and done, the Oregon GCSA came out ahead on revenue over the in-person event held in 2019. The conference committee will be meeting soon to decide on the direction of next year’s conference. It should be interesting to see which format they decide on given that COVID restrictions should be relaxed by then.
Western Washington has taken a different approach. They wanted to mirror what their normal schedule of events looked like when it was a live event. They went with more of an a-la-cart approach. Attendees could choose from nine different education packages. Each offering its own unique curriculum based on what the attendee was looking for. They were able to pull this off by making the education 100% on-demand. The trick was to be able to capture attendance during the event so the State of Washington could verify attendance for pesticide credits. They also needed to provide closed captioning for a hearing-impaired member.
Bill Ackerley, the Western Washington executive director, found a company called BrainCert to deliver the education. It also gave him the ability to administer tests for pesticide certification. He had his speakers record their education on a different program called Screencast-O-Matic, then he uploaded it to BrainCert. The best part of Screencast-O-Matic is it also creates captioning automatically. He says it takes a little extra time to edit, but it’s pretty effective.
I think the WWGCSA has put together a very creative option for virtual e-learning. Overall, the expense to utilize these two programs was very affordable, but the best part, it also satisfied closed captioning as well as state requirements for CEUs. Like Oregon, the WWGCSA came out in the black. There were 123 separate packages purchased and they made 98% of the 2019 revenue.
With all that we have had to endure in 2020, these two chapters have taken an uncertain situation and certainly made the best of it.