Missouri FBLA-PBL Student Leadership Conference Goes Virtual

Global Meetings Industry Day is a big deal to those who plan face-to-face meetings and others who work in the industry. This year’s event scheduled to take place April 14 has been postponed due to COVID-19, but those in the industry don’t want the day to go unnoticed, so they’ve come up with GMID Virtual, a way to still meet and come together virtually. 

On April 14, those in the industry are invited to be part of a grassroots attempt at the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for Largest Audience For a Virtual Conference. “It will be an uplifting celebration of the positivity, resilience and tenacity of the people who make up this amazing industry,” according to the organization. 

Obviously, meeting and event cancelations have hit hard in Springfield too, but thanks to determination and virtual technology, Missouri Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda isn’t letting stay-at-home orders get in the way of providing solid leadership experience and training to its member students. 

When the organization realized it would have to cancel the 2020 Missouri FBLA-PBL State Leadership Conference that was scheduled to take place April 19-21 in Springfield, organizers immediately began looking for ways to conduct the event virtually.

“For us, it really wasn’t a matter of if,” said Chris Dzurick, state adviser and event planner for Missouri FBLA-PBL. “It was a matter of how.”

It turns out, the “how” was largely already in place thanks to the organization’s leadership training partner, TEAMTRI, which has an online platform for presenting educational programs. With a little tweaking, it was converted into a program that would allow students to continue with the competitions that were planned and for judging to take place without anyone leaving their homes.

Students from more than 400 schools around the state will submit answers to questions and film speeches and demonstrations and upload them over the next several days. Judging begins at 5:30 p.m. April 23 with scoring taking place remotely through April 30. A panel of 28 volunteer judges from the Springfield area will evaluate submissions in a variety of subject areas, including journalism, client service, business ethics, public speaking, sales presentations and many others.

Students also will be able to view presentations and educational sessions through the platform,including a keynote presentation by Stephen Mackey, a character development coach and motivational speaker with TEAMTRI.

Dzurick said it’s not the same as having an in-person event and face-to-face interactions but under the circumstances, it’s a good option.

“Our main goal was to deliver much of the same experience and training we provide onsite in a virtual format,” he said. 

That experience also includes a Virtual March for Babies STEP UP Challenge in which FBLA student members are encouraged to participate by downloading the Charity Miles app and tracking their steps in a virtual walk.  They can also seek pledges and make donations directly to the March of Dimes. Missouri FBLA-PBL contributes $7,000 to $10,000 each year to the March of Dimes, Dzurick said.

Tracy Kimberlin, president/CEO of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he’s impressed event organizers reacted so quickly and came up with a solution that would allow students to participate in the 2020 leadership conference.

He also looks forward to next year when the event will resume in Springfield with in-person activities because face-to-face interaction is an important learning tool and group events help the economy thrive. The FBLA-PBL leadership conference, for example, is attended by about 5,500 people who spend nearly $3.3 million while they’re in the city.

“Global Meetings Industry Day highlights the impact of meetings, conferences, conventions, travel and trade shows on people, businesses and the economy,” Kimberlin said. “The FBLA event is just one example of how much an event can mean to the city’s economy.”

Lisa Perez is a Sales Manager at the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau