Q: It seems expensive to attend a symposium—will it be worth coming?
Yes, symposium attendance is an investment, but you already invest an enormous amount of time and energy in your wildlife work. And many rehabilitators invest their own funds too. Coming to the symposium is an investment along the same vein—one for the benefit of the animals and for yourself. Knowing what is best and most effective for the animals not only provides optimum care for them, it also eliminates wasted time, energy, and in some cases heartbreak, and money, on your part. You help wildlife because you care; be among those who care enough to stay abreast of everything new, just as other health care providers do.
Q: Why does the symposium cost what it does? Can’t you make it cheaper?
NWRA works very hard to keep the registration and workshop fees affordable. Many training courses and conferences cost $75 to $125 PER DAY, including other nonprofit organization events. You would be amazed at the costs to produce an NWRA symposium! So the registration fee for four days of presentations and small workshops fees are actually much more reasonable than you may realize. To keep the fees this low, NWRA must:
- Negotiate with each hotel to keep costs down for meeting rooms, AV rental, and the many other conference needs
- Actively seek sponsorships (monetary donations) to help pay expenses—sponsors include corporations, nonprofit organizations, wildlife rehabilitation centers, state wildlife rehabilitation organization, and individuals
- Solicit and obtain donations of workshop supplies whenever possible
- Borrow AV equipment when possible
- Depend heavily on VOLUNTEERS to plan, administer, and execute each event and take care of all the necessary paperwork, accounting, and activities during the symposium
- Start work on each symposium within 60 days of a symposium just completed.
Not everything can be negotiated, donated, or borrowed so there are always expenses that may not be apparent when one is simply attending the symposium.
Q: I haven’t been able to afford to attend. Where can I find money?
- Apply for one of the scholarships through NWRA.
- Apply for a scholarship through your state rehabilitation association if available.
- List the symposium on your Rehabilitation Wish List, your personal Christmas Gift Wish List, or any similar gift request.
- Ask someone who really supports what you do for wildlife to either fund your entire trip, or pledge to match what you raise on your own.
- And, a suggestion that is working for others: Look for sponsors in your area to provide money to help cover expenses of attending. It may take some time, and some will turn you down, but the opportunities are many. First, figure out how much it will cost, including travel, lodging, food, purchasing books and supplies, even paying a critter-sitter. Then, think about everyone who brings or refers animals and calls to you. Ask them one at a time. Start now! Explain to them how much money you need, why you want to attend so badly, and then ask each of them for a donation, such as $10, $20, or $50. Give presentations at your local Audubon group, Sportsmen’s Club, Rotary Club, Garden Club, or whatever groups are in your area, and ask them for a larger amount, maybe $100. It will help if you promise a follow up a report of what you learned (this could be either written or verbal) or perhaps a presentation at their meeting. If you are sincere about your desire to attend and ask in a courteous way, each $10, $20, and $50 will add up! And if you follow through with Thank You notes and reports of how you benefited, you can ask the same people again next year! You should also take a serious look at how you can reduce costs—sharing transportation and lodging, etc.
Q: I have been doing rehabilitation for many years. Will I learn enough to make it worth my attending?
Yes! There is always more to learn—more techniques being developed, more knowledge to share, more research about nutrition, new disease emergence, etc. Be sure you are not among those caught in the grip of complacency and using outdated and less effective methods, products, and approaches. To get the most benefit from the many opportunities available at this amazing event, come with:
- An open mind
- A quest for knowledge
- An eagerness to learn
- A willingness to listen and adapt what will work for your needs
- A desire to meet people, share information, and enjoy yourself in the process.
Q: Why are there so many choices happening at once? I want to attend everything but I can’t!
The program is designed with concurrent sessions, usually four at one time, some lectures and some hands-on labs. This allows people to choose what is most needed. Because not everyone rehabilitates all species, or offers educational programs, or provides medical treatments, presentations are scheduled so at any one time there are choices for everyone.
Q: Can I move between rooms during sessions?
Yes, you can change rooms. Choose to attend those things that benefit you most! Each session consists of several individual presentations. You need not stay for all the presentations in a particular session.
Q: Why do your programs look pretty much the same from year to year? That’s why I don’t come every year.
At a glance, you may think the program is very similar to other years because NWRA may group speakers and sessions under similar headings, such as Mammals or Administration. BUT, the individual speaker topics and presenters within each session vary from year to year, OR a returning speaker is presenting new information or a new approach recently discovered.
Q: I feel I don’t know enough to attend. Will I be lost and confused?
Everyone at every level is welcome to attend and will derive great benefit! There is much going on and you MAY feel confused or overwhelmed—but you don’t have to feel this way. We suggest you try the following to meet others and become part of the community:
- Attend the Meet & Greet on Tuesday to become acquainted with NWRA, the symposium, and to meet others just like you—new to the symposium
- Thoroughly read the program book for happenings, detailed daily schedules, and presentation contents
- Watch for signs and listen for announcements
- Ask for assistance at any time! The Registration Team, NWRA staff, NWRA Board, and Host Committee are there to HELP YOU. These individuals are located at the Sales and Registration tables and have nametags with ribbons identifying them.
Q: I’ve never attended an NWRA Symposium. What can I expect?
You can expect:
- A chance to learn the latest techniques/information from knowledgeable speakers
- A lot of valuable information (over 90 lectures)
- To meet others in your field who understand exactly what you do and why you do it
- To network with fellow wildlife rehabilitators—exchange ideas and contact information
- To earn continuing education credits when you attend
- To interact with various vendors offering everything from books to formulas to capture equipment
- A welcoming environment in which to learn
- To have fun making new friends and contacts
- The five days to go by rather quickly
- To get excited about wildlife rehabilitation.
Q: How can I get ALL the handouts, not just those from presentations I attend?
NWRA has a system for handouts—we ask all speakers to submit handouts prior to the symposium, that then are posted on our website. When you register for the symposium, you receive a password to access the handouts and may download and/or print them. However, not all speakers submit handouts and some wait until after the symposium to provide them. But the benefits of this system are that more speakers are preparing handouts, very few printed handouts are used for presentations, and registrants have access to ALL handouts available via the Internet. For Symposium 2011, more than 70 handouts were available!
Q: I’m just an in-home rehabilitator and feel that most stuff is over my head or that people may look down on me.
First of all, NEVER say you are JUST an in-home rehabilitator! Most rehabilitators in the US describe themselves as “in-home,” “independent,” or “individual” rehabilitators, so you are in the majority! Each of you is very important to the animals you help, to NWRA, and to the nationwide rehabilitation community! DO COME to the Symposium. You will be able to find something in every presentation that will help with your wildlife work. Everyone is different and has different needs for their situation. If you are open to learning, other people are happy to talk with you or steer you to someone you should meet! NWRA members and symposium attendees include a VERY wide range of individuals, but all share the same primary interest in wildlife:
- From independent/in-home rehabilitators to staff rehabilitators, administrators, and volunteers that work at centers and clinics
- From those just beginning or aspiring to become rehabilitators to those who have been doing hands-on rehabilitation for 20 to 30 years
- From those who rehabilitate several animals per year to those who work with several thousand
- From experienced educators to rehabilitators wanting to become more effective at educating the public
- From those with hungry minds and a lot to learn to those with experience who are willing to teach and mentor others
- From veterinarians and veterinary students to rehabilitators who have been trained to provide important first aid measures for new patients
- From those who are paid to those who volunteer or fund rehabilitation from their own pockets.
This means MORE opportunities to find information, techniques, advice, and assistance you are seeking. There ARE others with similar interests, experience levels, needs, and concerns; you can seek them out and make the connections.
Q: What is the Meet & Greet or the New Member Meeting?
A one-hour Meet and Greet meeting is scheduled on Tuesday evening of the Symposium for new NWRA members and first time symposium attendees, but EVERYONE IS WELCOME. After an introduction to NWRA and a brief explanation of how the symposium runs, people gather in small groups to meet others and get acquainted, to meet NWRA board members, and to ask any questions. Attendees have told us that it really helps them get oriented, more comfortable, and make friends.
Q: How do you find speakers for all the symposium talks?
Some individuals fill out the Presentation Application Form, some are recruited by the Program Coordinator, and some are recommended by members. You also are among those who can contribute to the knowledge foundation in our field. Your experience and expertise should be shared, so your current colleagues, as well as those that follow you, will have the benefit of what you have learned and don't experience the same trial and error. Consider giving a presentation in your area of expertise at the symposium.
Q: I wish NWRA would have a symposium near me. How do you choose a location?
Each year the NWRA Symposium Coordinator searches for a suitable place. It must have:
- A hotel with meeting rooms large enough to accommodate the sessions; reasonable rates for clean and comfortable sleeping rooms; enough sleeping rooms to handle the number of attendees; good food choices either on-site or nearby; enough public space in meeting area for gathering into groups and networking; no hidden or outrageous fees for things such as exhibitor boxes shipped into and out of the hotel, or minimum meeting room and catering rates (some hotels require $30,000 or more!); and no hidden contract clauses such as their workers MUST handle all AV needs (this could cost an additional $20,000 to $30,000!)
- A nearby airport that has service by major airlines, without connections and transfers required, and a reasonable shuttle service to get people between the airport and hotel
- A Host Committee that works to assist NWRA with workshop specimen acquisition, transportation, and legal disposal; acquiring donated workshop supplies; and finding volunteers to help in presentation rooms and with AV and workshops
- A reasonable number of rehabilitators within driving distance (this is why sparsely populated locations are seldom used).
It is becoming more difficult each year to hold down expenses (and thus fees) due to the increasing costs of everything in our economy.
Q: Currently I am not rehabilitating and do not intend to go to the Symposium, but I would like to support NWRA and the Symposium. How can I do this?
If you would like to assist with an NWRA Symposium you can:
- Sponsor (cash donation) a session or workshop (greatest need)
- Work with NWRA to locate a business, corporation, foundation, or other potential donor/sponsor
- Donate supplies (specific workshop materials)
- Donate rehabilitation and wildlife items to the Raffle and Silent Auction
- Assist in any other way you think might be helpful to NWRA.
Contact the NWRA Office and they will refer you to the appropriate person in charge.