Alberta conference goes digital

Alberta conference goes digital
Mar 18, 2020

Organizers had to cancel the annual Livestock Care Conference (LCC) due to COVID-19, but they decided to move the event to a virtual platform

Staff Writer

Events, conferences and even schools are being cancelled across Alberta to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) was one organization that made the decision to cancel its event, the annual Livestock Care Conference (LCC), because of the pandemic.

Originally, the conference was to proceed on March 19 because it was under the province’s limit of a gathering of 250 people.

“We worked with the hotel on increasing cleaning and how we were going to handle handwashing stations and buffets and all of those things. And then, as the day went on, we really weren't feeling like it was the right choice. So the event was cancelled all together. And it would not be put on again this year because that's just not within the budget of a not-for-profit like ours,” said Annemarie Pedersen, executive director of AFAC.

Organizers were disappointed they could not put on the conference in person, but they wanted to try and live this year’s conference theme of “raising the bar” and think of another way they could offer the event.

They decided to go digital with LCC 2.0 on March 16 and are encouraging people to sign up on the AFAC website.

The digital conference will happen on the platform Zoom and starts at 8:30 a.m. MST on March 19, explained Pedersen.

“The intention is not to have everyone sitting at their computer for eight hours. So, we will have an hour session and then about an hour break and then another hour session and so on during the day. That way, people aren't tied to their computers or phones or tablets for the entire day,” she said.

Producers will be able to ask questions during the breaks and AFAC hopes it’s an interactive event, said Pedersen.

So far, conference organizers have three speakers confirmed. Dr. Frank Mitloehner will speak on raising the bar in the livestock sector. Dr. Marina Von Keyserlingk will present on working towards a more socially sustainable dairy industry. And Rebecca Gimenez-Hustead will speak on COVID-19 and emergency preparedness.

She’ll “talk about how you take care of animals and what your plans and emergency plans need to be when we have a pandemic that looks like (COVID-19). What happens when a producer or an animal owner gets sick and who takes care of their livestock? So, she's going to help walk us through some of the things that we should keep in mind right now,” said Pedersen.

The conference will also feature someone from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency who will talk about transport regulations, among other topics. AFAC staff also hope to have a few more speakers confirmed for LCC 2.0, said Pedersen.

Interest in the virtual conference is growing and producers, as well as sponsors, still want to be part of the conference, said Pedersen.

“This is a great opportunity for everybody to reengage and not feel so isolated. With the closed conference blues that are happening right now with everything being cancelled, this is a really great alternative. It'll let people reconnect and have some great experiences, hear some new information and hopefully learn something. And (participants will) be able to get in there and chat with other people in the conference as well as the speakers,” she said.

AFAC staff look forward to how things will go for the first digital LCC. Now that its online, it’s not just for Albertans.

“Anybody in Canada or the U.S. or anywhere who's interested in livestock welfare and wants to join our conference is able to do so. And I think that's an exciting silver lining of this switch that we've had to make,” said Pedersen. “We hope we'll get lots of people signed on to join us for the conference. We have lots of capacity so we're ready for everybody.”

Photo credit: Alberta Farm Animal Care

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