The thirty-ninth AFA Annual Convention proved to be a great success pulling AFA members from across the United States, as well as venturing in from other countries. While this famous educational conference ran August 7th - 10th, the festivities started much sooner. Convention attendees who arrived early pitched in behind the scenes, assembling the registration
"freebies," and got some extra social time with the Board of Directors and fellow AFA members. The excitement ignites as soon as the AFA Store arrives, and the setting up begins.
The Preparation Begins
The Tuesday before the convention AFA holds the Board of Directors Meeting at the convention site. All AFA members are welcome and encouraged to attend board meetings. This is a great way to get a "behind the scenes" view of the issues and characters that frame the convention and organization. For AFA Delegates, it makes an excellent prelude to the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting held on Wednesday. Tuesday the registration table starts to receive guests.
The Wednesday prior to the convention is chock full from morning to late evening. In the morning, the AFA held the House of Delegates meeting. This vitally important meeting takes place only once annually. As members, our interests are represented to the Board of Directors through the delegates present at this meeting; this is where the future is truly decided for AFA every year, so all voting members are encouraged to attend.
After the HOD meeting adjourns, the AFA conference attendees usually go to a scheduled pre-convention field trip arranged by the AFA convention coordinator, Jamie Whittaker. Please see the article about the Sylvan Heights Bird Park, in this issue of the Watchbird. What a remarkable and unique place it is.
The Convention Ice Breaker Evening of Events
Thursday evening we were all invited to attend the President's Reception. AFA, true to the educationfocused mission, jumped into the President's reception with fun and informative icebreaker events. This year everyone had a ball with 5 different edutainment (educational + entertaining) events, taking place throughout the evening. Patricia Sund held an Iron Chop Competition featuring the dos and don'ts of creating CHOP.
AFA 2013 Convention
(The Chop was donated to The Raleigh Durham Caged Bird Society to share with their members). Jamie Whittaker (1st VP) and Georgia Hayes (RD) designed the Bird and Feather Match Challenge, sending many participants to openly research on-line sources for the correct answers ... yay for reliable internet accessibility via cell phones. Feather collages were later donated to the silent auction. Robin Shewokis,Jamie Whittaker and Concetta Ferragamo directed and cheered a Bling that Cage Challenge, showing attendees how toy/perch/bowl placement matters within a cage enclosure, while discussing how to avoid too much or too little and finding the happy medium. All 4 decked-out cages went home with lucky raffie winners at the end of the convention. The final event was the Is Your Bird a Star video clip contest. This first-run at a video contest suffered technical difficulties but was well received just the same (a plan to expand upon this idea is in "the works"
so watch our facebook page and webpage for more details). As an added feature, Constance Woodman created a Hollywood Style, green screen photo shoot allowing attendees to pose with a mysterious flock of the elusive (read extinct) Carolina Parakeets.
Night owl vendors started setting up immediately following the gala, and a number of energetic AFA members stuck around to help and do a little pre-shopping in the wee hours, picking out treasures to buy first thing in the morning.
And so it all Begins ...
Bright and early on Thursday morning the vendors and attendees poured into the convention area abuzz with excitement. What better way to start off an educational conference than with a standing-room-only crowd for the AFA's President's welcome from Nancy Speed, followed by an amazing walk through avian history with Keynote speaker, Mark Hagen, Research Director at the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI). After a short coffee and bagel break, the speaker schedule took off at break-neck speed, with concurrent presentations in 2 ballrooms and a kid's program in a 3rd. The speaker tracks on day 1 were filled with interesting educational topics and excellent speakers. Shawna Augustine spoke about Lineolated Parakeets Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. AFA Board member, Linda Rubin, talked about New Nomenclature Affecting the Genetic of Cockatiel Color Mutations. Rick Weigel covered A Brief History of Parrots: The First 150 Million Years. AFA Board Member, Alycia Antheunisse, talked about Pet Trade Made Profitable. After lunch, guest speaker Dr. David Waugh from The Loro Parque Foundation shared the Latest on Natural and Assisted Reproduction by the Loro Parque Fundacion. Dustin Foote spoke about the Lesser Flamingos at Sylvan Heights Bird Park. Susan Van Der Broek held a meet-andgreet presentation called The Unusual Among Us featuring her two Blue Headed macaws, two Great Billed parrots, Red Fronted macaw, Thick Billed parrot, Major Mitchells Cockatoo, and Goliath Black Palm Cockatoo. Laurie Baker covered the Top Causes of Death in Companion Parrots. EmilyTrimmel presented Keeping up with the Caiques. Caroline Efstathion shared her extensive research which suggests conservation of endatngered parrots can be improved through the use oflntegrated Pest Management Scheme to Protect Nest Cavities from Invasive African Honey Bees.
AFA doesn't forget about our youth, AFA cares about the generations of parrot lovers to come. This year's Junior Avian Workshop event was hosted by AFA Board Member Concetta Ferragamo and assisted by Brigitte DeBonis from Florida. Thursday's featured junior guest speaker, Naomi Niemann, delivered
an impressive and interactive talk about Cockatiels. The junior attendees included local children as well as a group of members of the Boys and Girls Club. Dr. Reiner Niemann, Hilla Niemann, and Tony Pittman made cameo appearances at the Junior Avian Workshop; and Miel Niemann was a great help handling birds and helping the other children. Susan van der Broek (assisted by Terry Timberlake and Bonnie Posta) brought in her flock of very rare parrots to interact with the children. Special thanks to The Raleigh-Durham Caged Bird Society volunteers who brought several different species of birds, both juveniles and adults, for an interactive show and tell session on Thursday and Friday.
Our Thursday sessions ended with raffies, shopping in the vendor room, and a little time to visit the pool, gym, or nearby restaurants. The evening continued with specialty meetings for the Lory League, Hookbill Bird Show, Quaker Society, American Cockatiel Society, Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors, Specialty Affiliates, Lineolated Parakeet Society, International Conure Association, and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Inc. Curious about how you can learn more about living with parrots? Sitting in with these great groups at the AFA Convention is a great way to learn and get involved.