By Diana Azevedo - 2019 Wanda Chin Scholarship Recipient
Arriving in Boise, Idaho late Thursday night, I was looking forward to the next four days of programming, events, seminars, and workshops at 2019's WMA conference. This was my first WMA conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve attended seven of my state, Utah Museums Association conferences (UMA) and last year, I was able to attend AAM’s Annual Conference.
Attending UMA conferences has been an important part of my professional development and last year I accepted a place on the UMA Board. As a board member I help promote and plan aspects of the annual conference. But most importantly, I always come back from UMA conferences inspired and filled with ideas I want to try, such as new programs, updating our strategic plan, different ways to engage with our visitors, etc. In comparison, the AAM conference was a unique experience, being both slightly overwhelming and feeling like no matter what session I attended, I’d miss something really great! But I was again inspired to take new steps back at my own museum and think of ways in which we can scale down what larger institutions were doing.
With these two conferences under my belt, it was now time to experience a regional museums association conference - The Western Museums Association (WMA). However, being from a small museum, my professional development budget is small. So thank goodness I was able to apply for, and receive the Wanda Chin Scholarship, alleviating the fees that would have kept me from attending.
At WMA conference in Boise, Idaho, I started early Friday morning at the Idaho State Museum for a workshop on museum stores, and ended with the State Museum Association Exchange, held Friday afternoon. Although I’m fairly new to the UMA board, it was great meeting other state museums associations, hearing how they plan for succession and what type of turn-out they get for conferences. Attending the Exchange really helped me place Utah and our association in this Western region, to see what we can reach for and how far we’ve come as an organization.
During my time at WMA, I attended sessions throughout the day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, enjoyed all the late-night socializing at the various museum venues. I also really enjoyed hearing from the final General Session panelists during the Monday panel and the varying insight they provided. And then, in a snap, I was on my way back home! Overall I found that WMA was that perfect blend between AAM and UMA, and I got some great information! I’m excited to start implementing what I learned. I’m looking forward to attending again next year and plan to include WMA in my list of professional development opportunities not to miss.
Diana Azevedo is the Executive Director at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, a small natural history museum in southern Utah. She has an M.S. in Archaeology from Utah State University in Logan, Utah and has been in the museum field since 2006.