Since I just got home not too long ago from the 2nd Annual Animal Welfare Symposium at the wonderful State 4-H Center on Ohio State's campus, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share my reflections on the afternoon in a semi-sequential format.
1) The people and the atmosphere were much less hostile than last year, given the passage of Issue 2 and the HSUS deal struck over the summer to allow for the Livestock Care Standards Board to operate as it was intended. I felt like the questions were much less heated and much more focused on actual learning. It was a nice change, even from the meeting this summer. It was also really nice to work a short standards board update into the afterlunch. Interesting to note is the discussion about how Ohio will probably not make it by the December deadline for a referendum on some current housing systems. However, we were also told that HSUS has been doing a lot of meeting with other involved organizations relative to the summer deal and that there was a good understanding of how much work had been put forth to get where we are currently.
2) The people running the symposium are great. It was well organized, in a great facility, and attended by over 300 people this year. As anticipated, the food was almost the best part of the day and Mike did a great job keeping the technology up and running so the day went off without an obvious hitch. Awesome.
3) The first speaker had some good information about opinions of Ohioans related to Animal Welfare. She just struggled severely with expressing anything clearly or in any consideration of time. She mentioned early that as an Easterner she spoke very fast. Frankly, I thought she might've spoken a bit fast, sure, but she didn't say a whole lot more than if she'd spoken more slowly and deliberately. The Q and A also helped clarify a lot more of her work, but some questions which I thought were fairly important to the research and the presentation were not answered at all and the audience was left questioning the value of the first presentation, of which I am sure there was some but it was difficult to sort through some poor representation of her hard work. It's always tough to elaborate thoughts to the satisfaction of your audience in such a short time period.
4) All the rest of the speakers did a fine job and spoke about relevant information, doing a good job of holding the audience's attention. If my chair hadn't been so uncomfortable, I could've sat there all day. There was little that wasn't worth hearing, even the information that I've already heard a few times. Hearing discussions does a good job of keeping issues current in my mind.
As the week rolls on, I'll be taking study breaks to give short synopsi of different speakers, the topics they discussed and my related opinions. However, in the near future the presentations will be posted. I encourage you to follow the link and watch the powerpoints yourself. It's always better to do your own thinking.