Volunteering as an APDT Conference Border Collie

Volunteering as an APDT Conference Border Collie

No, not the dog. The Border Collies I’m talking about are people who volunteer to help at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show. They are integral to the smooth and successful running of these Conferences.

2015 APDT Conference Border Collie Volunteers

They assist in rounding up and herding folks to the right sessions, assisting during demos, checking names tags at the door, answering questions, showing people to their seats, and helping during breaks.

BC Start

The start of the BC Orientation Meeting with Carlos Betancourt, a co-host, on the far left standing, standing reading his notes

Being a member of the Border Collie Brigade provides you with the opportunity to meet new and interesting people, form new friendships, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Bill Hatherley, the Border Collie Lead on the APDT Task Force says – “We like to say it is our privilege to help the attendees have a great conference experience. While it may not be noticeable, a lot of oversight and management was done in the months leading up to the Conference. Irma Bice, Neil Smith and I had been planning for and working on this conference since March of last year. We met every two weeks via conference call and coordinated our efforts.”

This year, there were 42 volunteers, with 19 of them being veterans who have been Border Collies for 10 years – now THAT is dedication! We even had some BCs take on 6 assignments. Wow!!!

BC Duties

Bill Hatherley, BC Lead, giving the Duties of the BCs

The rest were at their first conference and wanted the opportunity to help and to network. We worked hard at providing them opportunities to meet new folks and everyone I talked to was very happy with this.”

Bill is very much like a cheerleader, he and Carlos Betancourt hosted the Training Meeting of the Border Collie Brigade. Between the two of them, they got the BCs excited and enthusiastic about their role. This great attitude carried on throughout the conference, helping all attendees to enjoy it even more.

I so wanted to be a BC, but my duties of reporting and blogging for The Modern dog Trainer took precedence. I chatted with some Border Collies – Jolynn Payne, Theresa Hyatt Cahill and Ryan Lockard and asked them some questions about their experiences.

1. Was this your first time being a BC?

  • Jolynn – “It was my first year.
  • Theresa – “First time.”
  • Ryan – “This was my first time as a BC.”

2. Why did you volunteer as a BC?

  • Jolynn – “I was at the conference a day early so I wanted to help and get involved.”
  • Theresa – “Thought I’d get a better understanding and learning from other trainers. I did.”
  • Ryan – “I volunteered because I like being involved and helping.”

3. Will you volunteer to be a BC again?

  • Jolynn – “Absolutely!”
  • Theresa – “YES I would volunteer again.”
  • Ryan – “I would volunteer again.”

4. What was your best experience of the Conference?

  • Jolynn – “Meeting new friends!”
  • Theresa – “Best I found was that there was a lot of help getting started. A lot of helpful info and useful info building my business”
  • Ryan – “The best thing was the positive comments that I received from the conference staff and the people I got to meet.”BC Overview - "Smile - Be Friendly"

5. What was the worst experience you had being a BC?

  • Jolynn – “Having to BC in a session where the speaker kept repeating “ok” after every sentence. Stopped counting after 35 in the first 30 minutes.”
  • Theresa – “There wasn’t enough communication. I met a few trainers but other than that I was on my own to find info – who and how to contact someone if you were available for other things, where to go if I had a comment or complaint. The ones that have been there before welcomed me but I had so much free time and I didn’t know where to turn to offer any help if someone needed it. But everything worked out because now I know who to look for and where (for the most part) to go if I don’t.”
  • Ryan – “The worst thing was the bag stuffing; it seemed to be very unorganized.”

6. What the duties did you volunteer to do?

  • Jolynn – “I worked the check-in shirt table and 2 different sessions checking badges and watching doors.”
  • Theresa – “I greeted and directed attendees”
  • Ryan – “My duties were to verify attendees had paid for the day, that they were eligible to attend the workshop and to do the necessary head counts.”

Bill Hatherley, the BC Lead welcomes constructive comments and got lots of feedback from the volunteers, all to make things better and more efficient in the following years.

The BCs got special buttons, a BC ribbon on their lanyard, and a free APDT Conference shirt if they volunteered for 3 or more sessions. They also were invited to a yummy breakfast especially for them.

The next APDT Conference will be in 2016 Conference in Las Vegas. Consider sharing a few hours of your trip to help out as a volunteer Border Collie! Their contribution is invaluable and greatly appreciated.

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