Yes, excitement is in the air as many of us anticipate the 2015 Animal Expo on March 30-April 2. The Humane Society of the United States hosts the Animal Expo each year, the largest trade and educational conference in the fields of animal care, control, rescue and emergency services. The conference offers a great opportunity to learn new skills and strategies, network with other animal care professionals, and learn about cutting edge programs.

Noting that 2015 is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the conference will be held in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. This is great news for those of us in Florida and many parts of the south, because it’s close enough to drive. The program has many sessions around the topic of disaster preparedness, but other tracks emphasize the latest information and approaches on shelter operations and design, reducing overpopulation, increasing adoptions, managing volunteers, or running a rescue organization. In addition, before the conference actually begins on March 31, Expo offers several 1-day courses on Monday, March 30 where you can earn a certification in creating disaster plans, shelter design or operations, or establishing play groups for shelter dogs, among other things. Our group, Big Bend DART, believes wholeheartedly that everyone benefits from the knowledge and skills that Expo attendees take back to their communities, and every year we offer scholarships to animal professionals and volunteers in our community that help cover travel, hotel, and conference registration. However, it comes with a requirement that when they return from Expo, they give a short presentation in one of our monthly meetings on a topic of their choice from Expo. It’s a great way for our community to reap the benefits of Expo, and we encourage other organization to consider setting aside funds to send some of their members to Expo.

Expo is a great way to hear about new developments in the world of animal welfare, as well as what programs have worked well in other communities (and what didn’t!). But without doubt, the best part about Expo is the networking: exchanging ideas, making professional contacts, and establishing friendships that will help information flow between our various animal welfare organizations and communities. See you in New Orleans!