Hayley Johnson, Grants Coordinator/Government Information Librarian
Nicholls State University, Louisiana
Through the generosity of the Grant Professionals Foundation Scholarship, I was able to attend the 2014 Annual National Conference of the Grant Professionals Association in Portland. As a newcomer to the grants arena, I was extremely excited to attend and learn as much as possible. Opportunities to network and learn were endless and every session I attended provided valuable information. Often, my most difficult decision was choosing one session to attend out of the many interesting and applicable options during each time period. Being able to attend the conference was especially important as it gave me access to experienced professionals teaching informative grant techniques that would be immediately applicable to my work.
Over the course of the conference, I attended numerous sessions that were all extremely informative. For example, the Special Interest Group (SIG) Session that I attended was fantastic as I was able to connect with fellow professionals who face the same challenges and hurdles as I do. Discussing issues and learning from experienced fellow professionals who had already conquered challenges similar to mine gave me a boost of confidence that was greatly needed. Having been thrust into the grant world with no local colleagues to confer with, it was especially reassuring to have met other individuals who shared similar experiences and know that I can contact them for advice or guidance.
Because the sessions indicated whether they were beginner, intermediate or advanced, I was able to target those sessions that were most suited to my skill level. Another session that I attended was geared towards beginners and focused on how to manage a team and collaborate in order to complete a grant. As a new grants coordinator at my institution, I was looking for ways to work effectively with those who weren’t as focused on pursuing grant opportunities. I left that session feeling like I had tools that would assist me in engaging and inspiring those around me to actively participate in grant initiatives. The session also gave me ideas on how to best articulate my role and my expectations for team members through the entire grants process.
Because I attended the conference, I was able to learn much more than I ever could through my use of webinars and other self-education tools. Without the assistance of the scholarship, I would not have been able to afford to attend the conference and would have missed an amazing opportunity to further my skills, network with fellow professionals, and bring that knowledge and skill set back to my institution. With the skills I acquired at the conference, I believe that my grant writing has improved and I know that I will better assist my institution in acquiring grants that will make a difference within my community.
Being a scholarship recipient made my goal of conference attendance a reality. Without the aid of the Foundation, I would have been unable to afford to attend the conference and would have missed out on all the opportunities the conference afforded me. I am truly grateful to the Foundation for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and make myself a more well-rounded and better educated grant professional.