The conference closed out with the presentation of some well-deserved awards. First up were the Best Speaker Awards, which included Granite City-themed trophies built by Chuck Hubbard of Braun Intertec. Winners included Adam Nies and Greg Thompson of Houston Engineering; and the first place trophy went to Rita Weaver of Minnesota DNR for her presentation "Demystifying FEMA's Non-Regulatory Products". Last but not least, the 2016 Floodplain Manager of the Year Award was presented to Suzanne Jiwani of Minnesota DNR. Suzanne has worked tirelessly as a floodplain professional for many years and continues to be a leader in floodplain management throughout Minnesota. Congratulations Suzanne!
Thursday's conference was filled with informative and interesting plenary sessions and fantastic concurrent session presentations by MnAFPM members and non-members alike. During lunch, Patrick Shea of the St. Cloud Public Utilities Department told the group about some water-related projects going on in the city and even snuck in some "shameless promotion" of the city's many accomplishments. Hey Patrick, if we'd been voted the 2016 Minnesota State Fair People's Choice Winner for Minnesota's Best Tasting Water we'd be shouting it from the rooftops too! Congratulations St. Cloud!
Another successful MnAFPM annual conference is in the books! The conference was held in St. Cloud, Minnesota and the action began on Tuesday night at the 2nd annual Pre-Conference Icebreaker Event. Attendees enjoyed snacks, drinks, lots of conversation, and some rousing games of bingo. Some even walked away with fabulous prizes!
Wednesday evening's Exhibitor Reception included lots of yummy appetizers and drinks along with an opportunity for conference goers to catch up with old friends and meet some new colleagues. Attendees also enjoyed more than a dozen exhibitors from MN/ND engineering firms, construction material companies, and state and national organizations. A highlight of the reception was the poster session, which included St. Cloud State University students presenting their research projects and answering questions from conference attendees. What a great networking opportunity for all those (hopefully) future floodplain managers!
The Wednesday training sessions were well attended and covered a wide variety of topics. For the first time in many years beautiful weather and mild temperatures allowed participants of the ever-popular Wednesday afternoon field tour to ditch their usual parkas and winter hats and enjoy some sunshine! The field tour included a stop at the hydrology lab on the nearby St. Cloud State University campus, where professor Jeff Cheng showed off the lab's stream table and a unique student-built system used to measure how erosion changes topography. The tour wrapped up with a presentation at Beaver Island Brewing Company where the group learned about the ways local water can affect the brewing of beer. Of course, a few participants had to test the brewery's product to see for themselves!
Rita Weaver and Suzanne Jiwani with Their Awards
Thank you to all of our 2016 conference trainers, presenters, and attendees. Your enthusiasm for the protection and management of floodplains and your interest in sharing your knowledge with other floodplain professionals is what makes this conference a success year after year.