OIWC Regional Community and Conference Program
In September 2008, OIWC announced exciting changes to its regional programs, making them more accessible to members, including:
- Bringing the conference to you! Regional conferences are planned for 2009, and the national WAVE conference is postponed.
- Moving regional communities online, making it easier for volunteers to lead efforts in a specific region. Now meet others in your area via Regional Communities in the online community and OIWC’s Regional Conferences
Here we answer questions about the new regional program and how it is different than the previous program.
- I was thinking of attending WAVE. Why is it being postponed and when will it be rescheduled?
- So what is the difference between a Regional Community, Regional Conference, and regional chapter?
- How does a Regional Community work?
- What will a Regional Conference look like?
- Will OIWC host a Regional Conference in my area?
- Who would plan a Regional Conference in my area?
- I liked the idea of an OIWC regional chapter in my area. Why is OIWC not supporting chapters anymore?
- But what if I want to get together with other women who work in the outdoor industries and also live in my region?
- I have a few ideas and questions. How can I share them?
I was thinking of attending WAVE. Why is it being postponed and when will it be rescheduled?We heard from many of you that you would love to attend WAVE but given the current economic and political uncertainty, you couldn’t commit to conference fees, plus travel and lodging expenses. So, we are postponing the national conference and bringing it to you in the form of a Regional Conference.
At the end of 2009, the OIWC Board of Directors will survey OIWC’s membership and revisit the WAVE Conference to determine if it’s time to reschedule.
So what is the difference between a Regional Community, Regional Conference, and regional chapter?
- Regional Community: OIWC members who work in the outdoor industries, live in a specific geographic region, and communicate via the OIWC website.
- Regional Conference: An OIWC-hosted professional development event in your region.
- Regional chapter: OIWC’s previous regional program that no longer exists, and has been replaced with Regional Communities and Regional Conferences.
How does a Regional Community work?
Every member of OIWC chooses their ‘primary group’ when they join or register their membership with OIWC. This primary group determines your Regional Community, and gives you access to other members who chose this same primary group.
As a starting point, most Regional Communities are statewide, but as a statewide group fills up, we will break them down into more narrow regions.
From your online Regional Community, you can:
- Click the “Directory” link at the top of the page and see who else is in your Regional Community
- View photos of or send direct emails to others in your Regional Community
- Let others know about your company’s updates or OIWC exclusives you are offering to members in your area
- Let others in your area know about local happenings, women’s activities, special sales, etc.
- Get to know other members in your area by posting questions related to where they work, in what area they live, in what industries they are involved, etc.
To access your Regional Community, simply login to the OIWC website, go to your Profile, and select “My Groups.” Your Regional Community will be listed, along with any other groups you belong to.
What will a Regional Conference look like?
This depends on the OIWC members in your region. OIWC board members, volunteers and staff will work with you and other regional volunteers to determine the best fit for your region, whether it’s a two-hour or full-day event, or something in between. Regardless of the duration, the content will always support OIWC’s mission of helping women in the outdoor industries recognize and reach their professional goals.
Will OIWC host a Regional Conference in my area?
Again, this depends on the members in your region. Conferences will be held where there is the most demand and support. Currently, we are planning on hosting four Regional Conferences in 2009, locations TBD, along with two in 2008: Portland OR, on October 30, 2008, and Seattle WA, on November 7, 2008.
In October 2008, we will survey our membership regarding Regional Conferences and determine where our 2009 events will be held. (Be sure to register your comments and fill out the survey, so we can accurately gauge where there is the greatest interest.)
Who would plan a Regional Conference in my area?
OIWC will lead the planning of a regional event via its Outreach Committee. The Outreach committee consists of one OIWC staff member and two types of volunteers:
- Ongoing volunteers who develop the big-picture strategy and consistency for Regional Conferences
- Project-specific volunteers who help execute specific events within regional communities
I like the idea of an OIWC regional chapter in my area. Why is OIWC not supporting chapters anymore?
Due to legal and insurance requirements, the formation of regional chapters required responsibilities and resources that were a burden to the parent organization, given the size OIWC is today. Plus, the feedback we received from volunteers leading the formation of a chapter was that the requirements were overwhelming.
With the commitment to the new website tool, the virtual social community becomes the focal point and allows OIWC to broaden access for everyone. Of course, there is nothing like sharing ideas in person, so we expect interest to organically help us identify where the regional events should take place. So to put the responsibility back on the national OIWC, it is easier and makes more sense for everybody if OIWC brings the organization to your region, rather than asking you to create an OIWC chapter.
But what if I want to get together with other women who work in the outdoor industries and also live in my region?
There are still quite a few ways to get to know other women in your region.
- Be involved with your online Regional Community. Use it to post your professional questions, share your personal challenges and triumphs, and more. As you get to know others in the Regional Community, we will work with you to narrow down the range to a specific city, part of your state, etc.
- Volunteer to organize a Regional Conference. There is no better way to get to know other women in your region than by working with them to help create a Professional Development event in your area.
- Attend a Regional Conference! When we come to your area, be sure to attend the event and network with the other women in the room. Or, if we aren’t coming directly to your city, plan on attending the one that is closest to you. Even though it’s not exactly where you live, you’ll still make some great contacts and meet people you can continue to network with online.
- Plan your own get-togethers: We strongly encourage OIWC members to meet up! Networking is, almost universally surveyed amongst our membership, the #1 benefit of being a part of OIWC. Network with other women via the Regional Community and organize your own get-togethers. The only limitation is that it cannot be labeled as an OIWC get-together.
I have a few ideas and questions. How can I share them with OIWC?
- any time
- Look for the membership survey in the next month. The results of this survey will play an important part in determining where future Regional Conferences will be held and how they will be structured.
- Volunteer on the Outreach Committee and help us continue to formulate this important regional outreach program, or volunteer to help plan an event in your region.