The 2016 Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association Conference is ‘in the books.’ The overwhelming review of the conference is that the planning and preparation resulted in yet another terrific conference. We set a new record this year with 439 registrants prior to the conference and on Thursday we had over 450 in attendance. The facilities were top-notch and the amenities fabulous. There were a couple of glitches to plans but the NJJA Board and Planning Committee, together with the Younes Conference Center staff, worked those out with little impact or interruption.
Wednesday morning, Francoise Mathieu began the conference on a high note with her keynote address, “Beyond Kale and Pedicures: What works to manage compassion fatigue and secondary trauma?” Directed towards professionals in our genres, it was a terrific message that kicked off the conference on a high note and set the stage for how spectacular the rest of the conference would be. The variety of breakout sessions Wednesday was also indicative of the quality of topics and presentations in each session.
Thursday of the conference was “Youth Day.” Youth were invited and recognized, not in a ’lip service’ manner, but rather as meaningful members of the partnership dealing with Juvenile Justice related issues. We aren’t aware of any other conference in the country that recognizes young people and even our nationally recognized speakers marveled at how we did it, why we did it, and how effectively it worked. The feedback we have received from those attending support the belief that this is a valuable part of the conference and the youth “voice” was appreciated from several perspectives.
At the luncheon on Thursday, several awards were presented: Anita Haumont, Recreation Manager at YRTC-Geneva, was presented the 2016 Evelyn E. Ladode Service to Youth Award. Brittnie Wedel, who has just graduated from Chadron State College and is pursuing graduate work in Criminal Justice, was given the 2016 NJJA Scholarship Award, and Margene Timm, a Lancaster County Public Defender, was presented with the NJJA Commitment to Excellence in Leadership Award.