By Helen Dauka
On February 1, KAB CEO Jacqui Ricchiuti, CFO Elaine Murphy and Communications & Volunteer Project Manager Helen Dauka travelled to Orlando for the 3 day Keep America Beautiful National Conference.
Over the course of 3 days, KAB staff was able to hear what Keep America Beautiful has in store for its network of over 600 affiliates in 2016, attend informational sessions, listen to speakers, and network with other agencies. Keep Akron Beautiful has brought back quite the haul of ideas for improving its existing programs in Akron and some new ideas to implement in the future!
Elaine and Helen kicked off their conference by attending the New Executive Training.
This session gave an in-depth background to the history of Keep America Beautiful and transitioned into an explanation of the Keep America Beautiful Behavior Change System. The session included breakout group activity where the affiliates worked together to brainstorm ways to incorporate the Behavior Change System in different programs to help end litter in their communities.
For Elaine, getting to learn the historical background of Keep America Beautiful was extremely valuable. Learning about the Behavior Change System gave her context to what our agency does every day. While some of the people in the room may have started with there affiliates as recently as the day before the conference, for Elaine and Helen it was beneficial to see how the guidelines set by Keep America Beautiful align with what Keep Akron Beautiful already does. Helen described the session as a real, “connect the dots moment” for her.
Jacqui, Elaine and Helen attending a speaker session hosted by Rob Curnow, author of Litterology. As a behavioral psychologist Rob and his co-author Karen Spehr set out to find out why people litter. Some of the biggest takeaways from his presentation were that you can’t assume you know who litters. Another fun fact Curnow discovered: most people will chase a piece of runaway litter about 20 yards before they give up. Talk about some exercise!
Another great session attended by all was the Steel This! session where a handful of affiliates were able to present programs they have implemented that have been successful. KAB staff was able to hear about wildflower trail preservations, water cleanup initiatives, and recycling education for schools.
KAB staff also got to hear presentations on The Cost of Blight, The New Breed of Volunteers and The Art of the Report, all jam-packed with useful information that will be able to be implemented in Akron to make our agency better able to serve the community!
While the value of the information gained during conference sessions can’t be quantified, the same can be said of the connections that were made with other affiliates. Outside of sessions during meals, snack breaks or between sessions, amazing conversations were had with other affiliates from Ohio and neighboring states. Sharing of ideas and proposals of collaborations came about organically, expanding the impact of our community in Akron to create a stronger region!