New Technology, Family Fun Highlighted Florida Convention

Florida is known as a place for family fun; so it was no surprise that the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association managed to combine entertainment with education at its convention last month.  The event included not only those activities that are the staples of a typical convention but also activities geared to engage participants’ families.
About 370 people attended the 2010 F.O.W.A. Convention & Trade Show at the Ocean Center in beautiful Daytona Beach, where sixty companies and others in the industry provided exhibits. The numbers were similar to last year’s attendance, despite the down economy, a fact that pleased convention organizers, according to Sherrill Parr, Director of Financial and Business Management for the association.
“We attribute much of this success to the great value we offer our members for the CEU (continuing education unit) hours each year at the convention, plus their ability to earn CEU’s for interacting with our exhibitors,” Parr said.
As with all conventions, the gathering allowed folks to share ideas, reconnect with long-time business friends and establish new connections. “The members networked with their peers from all over the state and learned from the experts in onsite technology.” Parr continued, “There was a question-and-answer period at the end of each education presentation in addition to the time they spend with the vendors, who demonstrated firsthand the latest industry innovations.” The education program on the Saturday of the convention spotlighted new technologies.
In addition, Parr noted, many who attended said they especially liked the hands-on experience of the soils texturing and the field, trip which were part of the Florida Soils Forum held at the beginning of the convention. During this part of the convention, participants worked with soil samples in a classroom to determine soil types using soil-texturing techniques. More than 100 people then traveled to Cypress Park near the Ocean Center to get their hands dirty in the field – using various techniques to determine types of soils in the park. By correctly identifying the soils, the students were able to determine which onsite technology would best fit the application for the site, Parr explained.
As for the more conventional “fun” part of the weekend, F.O.W.A. provided numerous activities that appealed to families. “It is important to F.O.W.A., amid these challenging times, to provide an opportunity for families to participate in convention activities together. Our message this year to the attendees was about bringing the entire family. We provided an inflatable obstacle course and basketball game in the exhibit hall and affordable activities for the evenings,” Parr said.
“Thursday morning started bright and early with our annual golf tournament at the beautiful LPGA facility. Friday night included kickball games at the Dayton Cubs ballpark, door prizes for both kids and adults and an all-you-can-eat-and-drink barbeque.”
Emily Anderson, the daughter of member Winston Anderson, was awarded the group’s annual education scholarship for college. Another special guest who was also honored was Senior Sen. Lee Constantine, who was given an award for helping F.O.W.A. accomplish its legislative goals.
Rainy weather moved Saturday night’s “Band at the Beach” into the ballroom, but the event was well attended by families, who had a meal together and enjoyed the music after the exhibit hall closed and classes adjourned.
Parr said F.O.W.A. will return to the Ocean Center for two more years. Next year’s convention is set for August 4 through 6.

Story by Marie Elium

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