This Calls for a Celebration: Milestones at Meetings

There’s no better time to celebrate one of your association’s milestones—say its 50th or 100th anniversary—than at a conference. You already have the guests, so why not bring the party?

There’s a lot of celebrating in June for my family and friends. A quick count adds up to six birthdays, two anniversaries, and at least one graduation. And as I get ready to head out of town this weekend to celebrate two of those birthdays (and Father’s Day), I started thinking about how associations mark their own milestones, whether their 10th, 25th, or 100th anniversaries.

To no surprise, I found some pretty creative ways associations have marked various occasions.

To no surprise, I found some pretty creative ways associations have marked various occasions.  (This includes one I happened to mention in this week’s Conference Circuit: an $85 registration fee for the BioCommunications Association’s 85th Annual Meeting.) Here are three other ways associations celebrated at their conferences:

A Night at the Museum

At the International Association for Identification’s upcoming 100th International Educational Conference in California, IAI will celebrate its centennial in a number of ways. One will be its Centennial Museum, which will highlight the association’s history, as well as the disciplines within the field. In addition, the meeting will offer historical educational sessions that will teach attendees about the past and how they can use that knowledge to perform better in the future. Examples include “A History of Footwear Impressions as Forensic Science” and “The Historical Origins of the Crime Laboratory.”

The meeting will wrap up with its Celebration Banquet, which promises to “bring to a close the first 100 years of IAI and start us on the path to the next 100 years with entertainment and surprises.”

Back to the Future

In 1990, the Oregon Library Association asked its conference attendees to write down their predictions and visions for the future of libraries. OLA also gathered a small collection of materials together—those that exemplified librarianship in that historical moment and a compact archive of the tools most vital to their day-to-day work. All of it was put in a time capsule and then “buried” in the State Library archives.

Fast-forward 25 years to April 2015: At the OLA Board Meeting held during its annual conference, the contents of the time capsule were revealed, with some of the librarians from 1990 in the audience.

OLA President Candice Watkins shared the binder of advice from back then with the audience. It included this nugget of wisdom: “Despite the automation of our systems and integration of computers into every aspect of our work, the human element is what makes our work important, unique, and irreplaceable.”  Attendees packed a new time capsule, which will be opened 25 years from now on the occasion of OLA’s 100th anniversary.

Age Is Just a Number

Last year, the American Society on Aging (ASA) celebrated a significant birthday—60. At its 2014 Aging in America Conference, it held a few events to mark the occasion. The first was its 60th-anniversary celebration, which featured a band playing music from the 1950s forward. The party also gave attendees the opportunity to share their memories and for ASA to reveal its plans for the future.

The conference included a general session called “ASA’s 60 Years in the Field of Aging: Looking Back, Leaning Forward.” It brought together a retrospective of the past 60 years with predictions for the future. Panelists reflected “on the promise to care for an aging society” and envisioned where future leaders would find meaningful roles and work. Following that session, ASA past presidents joined the panelists on stage to continue the dialogue on 60 years of accomplishments in the field of aging and the roles ASA members have played—and will continue to play—in advancing community work and advocacy.

How has your association marked a big milestone at a conference? Or how have you seen other organizations celebrate these occasions? Please share in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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