NAWEOA Members and Spouses,
Last year I had to send out the announcement about the "unprecedented" situation with the COVID pandemic and the need to postpone the 2020 conference in Nashville to 2021. I was very optimistic we would be clear of this by July 2021. All of us would be chomping at the bit to hit Nashville and make new friendships and strengthen old ones, all while getting valuable training and making valuable contacts... Unfortunately, I sit here "socially distanced", still required to wear a mask if I leave my office, attending countless "virtual" meetings and just feeling exhausted from the COVID restrictions and mitigations I'm expected to implement.
Your NAWEOA Board just held about 6 hours of virtual meetings to accomplish what we could in a virtual platform, with discussions of the 2021 Conference being the highlight. As you might expect, we have decided to postpone the 2021 Conference in Nashville to 2022. Our Tennessee hosts and the Millenium Maxwell House Hotel have been working hard to ensure that our contract with the host hotel and costs will remain the same into 2022. The conference is now planned for July 10-16, 2022.
Our Utah members have graciously shifted their efforts into planning for the 2023 conference as well.
I know there are folks out there who feel we should still have a conference: even if we don't get a big turnout, we would still be getting together. While I would love to move forward with that plan, the Association simply cannot handle the financial risk. We sign a contract with the host hotel specifying minimum numbers of hotel rooms, meals, support services, etc.; and if we do not meet those minimums, we are still on the hook for those costs. The Association does not have a fat savings account to bankroll that possibility. Additionally, many businesses who typically donate and otherwise support our events are experiencing added difficulties with the pandemic and we do not feel this is a good time to seek their assistance either. Additionally, Tennessee, and most of our home jurisdictions, have tight health orders regarding large events and travel, and we do not know when those may be eased to favorable levels. Yes, many of us in the US are getting vaccinated and, as law enforcement officers, are even getting priority status. Our brothers and sisters in Canada are not seeing the same availability of vaccines, nor are they seeing any preference in getting the shots administered. Travel across the border is possible, but not without significant restrictions and we do not know when that will relax. We do not want the Tennessee Wildlife Officers Association's efforts to put on this conference to be met with anything less than a spectacular turnout.
Hotel reservations should be cancelled and then re-booked once reservations open. Registrations can be refunded through Kaleb Stratton (email@example.com), although the group intends to continue to honor the early registrations and extra event tickets.
That is a long explanation and justification. I beg that you all stick with NAWEOA through this. We are whole-heartedly expecting NASHVILLE 2022 to be the biggest and best conference we've experienced. In the meantime, we are also researching some opportunities to provide high-quality training and social events online. Please watch for further details and we hope you and your families will join in as we navigate these unique times.
If you have further questions, comments, or concerns; feel free to post them on here as our hosts and I will be monitoring this page to respond. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Langley, NAWEOA President