Warrenton, VA - ATA's 41st Annual Conference took place last week in Calgary, and we kicked it off as you do in Calgary - with a "White Hat" Ceremony at our Sunday Evening Icebreaker & Welcome Reception. Raymond Tilburg, President-Elect and Conference Program Chair, received the ceremonial "White Hat" - Calgary's "Keys to the City" - on behalf of the ATA board, while attendees enjoyed drinks, appetizers, and some great conversation to kick off the conference!
With a 9:00AM start, Monday launched right into our educational sessions, with the first presentation presented by Kurby Court, Vice President, Spruce Meadows. Kurby walked attendees through the logistics and details of how Spruce Meadows charters its flights and transports its high performance athletes from the air to the show grounds.
Following Kurby, Dr. Sandie Black of the Calgary Zoo regaled attendees with what to do with your animals when your zoo gets hit by a historic flood, in her presentation, "Come Hell or High Water." Next Dr. Jan-Willem de Gooijer, DVM, KLM Airlines, shared his research that connected dots between animals, humans, transport, the transmission of diseases, and the increasing need for bio-security in transport. And to conclude the general sessions, Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, President, AALAS, informed attendees on the importance of taking back the public discourse from extremists and educating the public on all that is being done to ensure the welfare of animals by different constituents in the animal transport industry.
After a myriad of breakout sessions during the afternoon, attendees headed to Spruce Meadows for an Evening Reception, Awards Dinner, and Annual General Meeting (many thanks again to our dinner & reception sponsors, Cathay Pacific and Aviagen!). After visiting with the Spruce Meadows equine athletes (and new foals) during the reception, attendees headed over to Congress Hall for a lovely evening of food & celebration. The ATA Public Service Award was given to the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council Health & Well-Being Committee for their work and leadership in long-haul and short-haul ocean livestock shipping, accepted on their behalf by Dr. Ashley Stokes. Dr. Sharon Cregier was awarded the Robert D. Campbell Memorial Award for her long-lasting, outstanding, and consistent work to improve horse trailer conditions worldwide.
Lastly, Geoffrey Robinson of Sea Air International was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. Over 20 nominations were received across the industry on behalf of Geoffrey. His inherent personality traits of a lifelong commitment to innovation, hard work, self-determination, attention to detail, and creativity are widely recognized amongst his peers in the industry, and it was the pleasure of the ATA Board to recognize and honour this body of work by presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to one of our long-standing - and outstanding - members.
Also during the dinner, the ATA board conducted its Annual General Meeting, where we voted on and welcomed two returning board members - Judy Franco, Pfizer and Faruk Berberovic, GRADLYN - as well as welcoming three new members: Kenneth Serrien, Overseas Horse Services, Filip Vande Cappelle, European Horse Services, and Gabriella Tamasi, IAG Cargo/British Airways. Additionally we announced our 2016 Annual Conference location: Lisbon, Portugal! More information about our new board members and 2016 conference will be coming soon.