This year’s international Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) conference – held in a not-so sunny Orlando – was exciting, inspiring, provoking, and highly engaging. With over 900 attendees, over 100 workshops, 10 pre-conference sessions, 3 post-conference sessions, and a full exhibit hall with ACCT professional vendor members, it is difficult to put into words the vast opportunity for growth and development in every moment during this yearly gathering of industry professionals. As a representative of the Organization of Virginia 4-H Centers, I was able to attend workshops that will help promote not only best practices and leadership development programs at NOVA, but at all six 4-H Centers throughout Virginia, an opportunity I take seriously and that excites me very much every time I think about it. This year I feel especially fortunate to have attended the conference as our yearly State Staff Training – a week-long event in which all 4-H Summer Staffers throughout Virginia attend training to hone in on their skills as youth education professionals – will be held at the NOVA 4-H Center this spring.

The Association for Challenge Course Technology promotes and establishes best ethical practices and facilitator training guidelines as well as develops, refines, and publishes standards for challenge course design, inspection, operation, and certification. The organization is known for their depth of professional knowledge, reliability of quality services, and their advocacy for promoting the industry. I am so proud to work for an organization that sends its employees to conferences for them to learn, grow, and exemplify Virginia 4-H nation-wide. Only two other states – Washington and Arkansas – sent members as representatives of their 4-H organizations. Virginia is doing a remarkable job in keeping itself on the leading edge of challenge course/leadership programming the nature of which has the potential to profoundly impact the lives of those we serve. We are truly making a difference in the lives of the youth and adults we work with and we will only continue to grow stronger for those we serve as we collaborate, educate, and develop ourselves. 

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