One simple notification is apparently all it takes to trigger every small but incredibly impactful memory from the past five years. “Happy 5-Year Anniversary with ACCT.” It seems like so long ago that I packed up my family, and Curtis the cactus, and moved to start my exhilarating adventure with this Association. I distinctly remember being asked how quickly I could get a passport because my training would take me to Canada. At that moment, excitement and curiosity overwhelmed me, and I knew that this was either going to be a crazy ride or the best adventure of my life yet.
To say getting adjusted to a desk as the Business Manager was easy after years of being in a harness outside would be a lie. I am sure I annoyed the Executive Director whom I shared an office with by standing, sitting on the floor, lying on the floor, and constantly moving. He never complained. Actually, he did once, and it was about the sound of ABBA and not Tom Petty coming from my computer.
If you are aware of what was going on at ACCT five years ago, you would understand that I did not get to tip-toe and adjust to the water; I got to dive right in and swim as fast as possible. I honestly would not have had it any other way.
I truly enjoyed the role I held in that it allowed me to talk to members, help answer questions, and make connections with members within the ACCT community. I realized through some of the transitions that were happening that I wanted to do more for this industry. That's when I asked to be moved to the role of Program Manager.
If you know me, you know that I am a fixer, or rather, I see where improvements are necessary, and I roll up my sleeves and get to work. My official start as the Program Manager was at the 2019 Conference in Denver. Little did anyone know, I found out I was pregnant with my third child just days before we were boots on the ground.
That year just seemed to fly before my eyes; by the 2020 Conference in Raleigh, Emmitt was the possibly youngest individual ever to join a PVM Symposium. And then… the world changed.
Like Bruno, we don’t talk about 2020, no, no, no! Everything shifted. The word “pivot!” has never been so ingrained into my brain. But that is what we did. That is what we all did. We were no longer choosing our challenge; it was right there, smacking us all in the mask. We adjusted, we learned how to Zoom, and we connected through virtual round tables, wine nights, and testing events. We motivated each other; we came together in many situations to find solutions for moving forward, and we were, in some ways, more united than ever before. And in the midst of everything, ACCT launched Operation Accreditation!
By 2021 ACCT had officially “pivoted” to a virtual conference. Probably one of the easiest yet hardest decisions. The amount of anxiety that went on behind the scenes was met with nothing but support, patience, and the highest sense of accomplishment. My hat tips to everyone who presented for the first time through a web camera. To all the volunteers that banded together to keep everything moving forward, you are all truly the heart and soul of this association.
In 2022, I was reminded that I still have yet to get a neck tattoo, not that I want one, as well as how much Association growth I have helped contribute to. It is easy to do the work when you have the privilege of working with so many amazingly talented and knowledgeable people. It doesn’t feel like work. Inspector Certification eligibility and the Prep Course have been updated, along with making sure we host more testing opportunities. We also have Spanish-translated exams and are actively working towards more translations. We have 14 Accredited Operations, and I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural National Outdoor Education Conference in Singapore. Vendor Accreditation is on the brink of its new release with a new service area.
Now here we are in 2023, 1,825 days later. The projects I have been a part of I would not have imagined doing when I started 11 years ago in this industry; the friendships and the passion I see daily is the biggest reward of what I do. There have been difficult days, and there have been days that were, for the lack of a better word, perfect. Many individuals in this community have helped me grow and have provided guidance and encouragement every step of the way. I have been forced to move beyond any previously established professional comfort zones and believe in who I am as a person and the skills I have acquired along the way. I can say without hesitation I am in the role I was meant to be in. I am honored to be a member of this staff and a contributor to this community. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this journey with all of you.
Cheers to many more years!