Saturday, March 10, 2018

We Are Connected, We Are Family, We Are Next Gen

It's hard to believe that RootsTech was just a week away. It feels like it was just yesterday. What an amazing and fast paced week! I found myself feeling very reflective after coming home from the conference.

Here's what I left with:

1. RootsTech is where I connect and reconnect with my genealogy friends. I met up with so many of my Twitter and Facebook friends that I may never have the opportunity to meet. It truly is the genealogy meet up capital. If you're ever on the fence about going to a conference, go to RootsTech. I guarantee you will meet someone that you are friends with online! 

2. Further, I have several genealogy friends that I consider my family. They were the ones that checked in on me when they saw me sobbing after a key note speech or looked very overwhelmed and anxious. It seems that a lot of our friends took Brandon Stanton's remarks to heart to reach out. We need to support each other - we're all in the same community and have the same goal to research our family history and share it with others. I may not have found cousins through the app but I left with a larger family. 

3. NextGen's message is spreading throughout the community. Most of you know that I'm the social media coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. I was so pleased to hear more people knew about NextGen and wanted the ribbons and were even talking to others about who we are! We're a growing non-profit and it warms my heart to see this community really take off. Our NextGen meetup had approximately 30+ people drop by! And we were all connecting with each other, sharing information, and pictures. I have to give a special shout out to Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage. Not only did he take our huge group selfie but he also invited each of the NextGen attendees to their annual after party. Thank you sir for being so gracious! 

4. I need to continue to self-market. I came out in full force this year with my own ribbons and updated business cards and tried to talk to as many people as I can (including CEO's of major companies like FamilySearch and Find My Past). Sometimes I experience social anxiety and am nervous about going up to strangers but it's getting better as this community is very warm. I'm an up and coming lecturer. I'm not with a large company or historical society. I do have a day job right now doing IT work but that won't be forever. I'm going to keep pursuing my goal to move into genealogy full time and submitting proposals to conference. 

I hope you all had a wonderful RootsTech, whether you attended in person or remotely via Facebook and Twitter. I truly enjoyed sharing my experience as an ambassador and hope to continue to do it year and year. 

What was your favorite part about RootsTech? 

See you next year! 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

RootsTech Day 4

Yesterday was the fourth day of RootsTech and sadly the last day.

I attended the first MyHeritage Friends breakfast. I gathered with some of the same people that were at the fabulous MyHeritage After party the night prior. Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage gave a short talk about what's involved in the MyHeritage Friends program. I'm looking forward to partnering with MyHeritage on new features and giving feedback.

Next it twas time for the opening presentation with key note speeches by singer Natalia LaFourcade and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Natalia stunned the audience with her beautiful voice and talked about how her heritage mattered to her. Dr. Gates shared information about his life as well and also talked about how his program The Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings show involves teaching middle school children about science, DNA and genealogy, It's such a beautiful program and I hope more young people are encouraged to start learning about their past. We then had a speech by Cece Moore,  well known genetic genealogist. She talked about her work helping adoptees trace their family tree.

Following keynote speeches, I went to the Media Hub to conduct some group interviews. I had the honor to interview Cece Moore and participate in the group interview with Dr. Henry Gates Jr. You can see the interviews here:

Interview with Cece Moore

Interview with Dr. Gates (part 1 and 2)

Following interviews, I then attended the Ancestry lunch. Jenn Utley gave a talk and talked about some behind the scenes on Long Lost Family as well as the infamous 4th of July commercial that Ancestry put out. The commercial included doing descendancy research on every signer of the Constitution and almost all spots were filled. This was so neat to see, esp. the different outfits different people wore to evoke the image of the famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I then walked around the Exhibit Hall to visit the various vendors. I participated in the scavenger hunt at most booths and then discussed accreditation with a few institutes. My future feels brighter after talking with so many people this week. I may be young but I'm in this for the long haul.

I wrapped up with a lecture on World War I records in U.S. and Canada by my friend David Allen Lambert. It was an informative talk and will be very helpful with my WWI ancestors, particularly those that served in Canada. I think it's important we support our genealogy friends and I always enjoy his talks.

I didn't attend as many lectures as I did last year but I realize that face to face time and bonding with friends is much more valuable in addition to interviewing key people (how many people can say they met and interviewed Scott Hamilton). These are opportunities of a lifetime.  The classes will repeat at other conferences and online It also helps that I have my syllabus (which is the size of a phone book!) handy to review tips from genealogy experts.

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to old and new friends. I particularly loved seeing all of the familiar and new faces at the NextGen meetup. It was wonderful to hang out with so many great people. I do feel like I connect and belong in this community (this year's RootsTech theme).

I know I'll be back again and also at new conferences this year, You can see me lecture in a few weeks at the Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference as well as at Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Guelph, Ontario (6/1 - 6/3).