Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the National Wildfire Suppression Association (NWSA) Annual Conference in the Littlest Big City in the World, Reno.
Private contractors (NWSA Member Companies) from across the country took part in three days of workshops, meetings and training from representatives with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Northwest Coordination Center, North Ops CA Coordination Center, Washington Office Acquisition Management, Oregon Department of Forestry and more.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Vendor Show allowed me many opportunities to talk with our customers and some private contractors I met for the first time. Even though Oregon can often be right in the heat of fire season, we rarely get to see our customers who operate outside of our Eugene, Oregon location. Being able to attend conferences like these is a really nice opportunity to touch base face-to-face with the customers who support our business. It was also a great opportunity to get some of our new products in everyone’s hands to see, touch and try on. *If you’re going to be at an upcoming event we are scheduled to attend and there is a products you want to see first-hand, let us know a couple of weeks prior and we can make sure to bring it for you.
The Benefit Auction at the end of the Conference is always a fun, touching event and this year was no different. The night started with an incredibly entertaining performance by Eugene’s own Oregon Magician Hart Keene. Just like the times I’ve seen him perform in Eugene, he did not disappoint. It was hilarious to watch the interaction between Hart and the crowd, to see the unbelievable become real, and to get to be a part of Hart’s act (I still don’t know how he read my mind!).
After the entertainment, the main event began with the Benefit Auction. So many great items were donated by the Contractors and Vendors in the room, including a guide trip, signed guitar, drip torch lamp, wildland packs and much more. The owners of our company donated four 2015 Oregon Duck Football Tickets and a couple of great Duck shirts. The bidding started out quickly but slowed a little, until the sweet and brilliant Stan Kunzman started singing the Oregon Fight Song (sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to get video), which got the crowd going again. Our package sold for $900, an amount we are proud to have helped contribute to the cause!
Every year I attend, I love seeing the extreme generosity in the room. Not only do the attendees open their wallets for raffle and auction items, but they donate won prizes back to the group over and over again to help raise more money. Because of the Benefit Auction, the NWSA is sending a check for $8,012.00 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!
As we find every year, the NWSA Conference is an excellent opportunity for us to meet with our customers, have great conversations and a lot of fun. We appreciate being invited back year after year to display our products. Thank you NWSA!
We can't wait to see you next month at WUI, Reno!
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-Shannan Mills, Division Manager