I Don’t Teach or Work in Personal Finance–Why Should I Go to the AAFCS Conference & Expo?

SDSU_profileBy Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head, CFCS, CPFFE, Family Resource Management Field Specialist for SDSU Extension

Even if you do not specialize in personal finance, there are many reasons for family and consumer sciences and related professionals to attend the AAFCS 108th Annual Conference & Expo, “Financial Fitne$$: Trends, Innovations & Impacts,” in Dallas this June!

director-cordray-3238x3672.c698283fc796hire.width-170170Capstone Luncheon Speaker Richard Cordray–if you know who he is and what he has done, I don’t need to say more. If you do not know him, think about the topic of consumer rights. In the 60’s when President Kennedy presented a special message to Congress on protecting the consumer interest, he recognized that consumers are the largest economic group in the economy because two-thirds of all spending is done by consumers. The Bill of Consumer Rights was needed because consumers were not being fairly treated by all businesses. Cordray, as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has continued to work to protect consumers. The CFPB works on behalf of consumers by holding companies accountable for illegal practices and returning $11.8 billion in relief to consumers. Additionally, the CFPB has responded to over 1.1 million complaints from consumers. This one agency has worked to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Hmmm, what other organization does that work?

Newcombheadshot.pngBehavioral economics may not seem like a topic for FCS professionals, but integrating this information can really enhance our work to help others reach their full potential. Understanding why we make the decisions that we do regarding our finances is what Opening General Session Keynote Speaker Dr. Sarah Newcomb focuses on in her work. She looks at the human side of money by considering the correlation between values and financial decisions. She works to bridge the gap between psychological barriers and good financial management. Not only will this information be valuable for our work, but it can also be used in our personal lives.

The speakers for the “FITtalks” Lunch and Learn are top of the line (seen below in ordered mentioned)! Susan Sharkey, Director of Youth Programs for the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), is a former business teacher whose mission is to provide opportunities for youth to improve their financial literacy skills. I have heard her speak a number of times. She is very engaging and delivers a great message. Next Gen Personal Finance, developed by Tim Ranzetta, is a non-profit organization that connects educators with free resources, yes FREE. So if you come to the conference, you can learn about these resources and use them in your work or share them with anyone in your community who teaches personal finance. The third Lunch and Learn speaker, Courtney Collins, is a broadcast journalist who currently is the lead reporter for the series “One Crisis Away,” which is about life on the financial edge. As professionals, no matter what our role is, financial crises affect the wellness and stability of the individuals and families in our community. Courtney can provide insight on how to meet the needs of our audiences.


So, have I provided you with enough enticing reasons to attend the 108th AAFCS Annual Conference & Expo, even if you do not teach or work in the area of personal finance? If I have not, read or reread AAFCS staff member Sara Tantillo’s post about places to visit in Dallas–there is a lot to see and do. Remember, Early-Bird registration is only good through April 14th!

Getting Ready for Jax – Part Two

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

Thanks for coming back to read more about our trip to Jacksonville!

andrewTuesday started bright and early, with breakfast at Trellises again—they have a great breakfast buffet, perfect for a hearty start to the day. We then headed over to Jacksonville Landing for the start of our Jacksonville Top to Bottom Tour—part of AdLib Tours!  Owner Gary Sass led the tour—dressed up as Andrew Jackson, the city’s namesake!  While Gary holds this tour regularly, our version will be specifically focused toward FCS. Gary took us all over the city—from the underground tunnels to the city’s highest point!  We learned so much about Jacksonville, and got quite a walk in! The Top to Bottom excursion at conference will pick up and drop off right at the hotel—remember to wear comfortable shoes!

We stopped for lunch at a great and affordable Thai restaurant, Indochine—check it out if you have time. I recommend the green curry, along with the Thai coffee. Daila got the Pad Thai, and recommends that as well!

textilesAfter lunch we headed over to Interiors Trading Company (ITC), a wholesale retailer for Interior Designers and Decorators. Jennifer Bean met with us and gave us a quick tour, with information about their suppliers, how the company works, and more!  We think this will be a great option for anyone who works in the industry, as well as those who are just interested in looking at the wholesale side of textiles and interior design.  ITC expanded from just one location to three in Florida, so we will have the opportunity to learn about that process and how it has increased access to a myriad of textile options.

Sara Tantillo (left) talks with Kim Pomar (right) about Cummer Gardens.

Sara Tantillo (left) talks with Kim Pomar (right) about Cummer Gardens.

After our visit at ITC, we headed over to our final excursion location, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens!  The Cummer is home to art spanning the ages, from 2100 B.C.E. through the 21st century, and its collection is just amazing. Most of the excursion will be focused on its two fantastic gardens, an Italian and an English garden, which were developed by members of the Cummer family. Attendees will also enjoy time for individual exploration of the museum and grounds. And remember—check out the gift shop to head home with some great souvenirs!

mealwithlacWe finished up our trip to Jacksonville by dining with Lina Ingraham and Eleanor Cavanah, co-chairs of the Annual Conference Local Arrangements Committee. It was so nice to chat about plans for the conference, and learn even more about the city!

We are SO looking forward to the 106th Annual Conference—and we hope you are too!  Registration is OPEN—learn more at www.aafcs.org/meetings/15!

Getting Ready for Jax – Part One

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

In mid-November, Daila Boufford and I traveled to Jacksonville (Jax) to check out the site for the 2015 AAFCS Annual Conference.  We were excited to learn more about the hotel, the city, and preview the educational excursions planned for conference.  We had a fantastic time, and we are eager to share what we learned with you!

sculptureDaila and I flew into Jacksonville International Airport on Sunday night—the picture at left shows one of the beautiful sculptures you walk by on the way out of the building. Be sure to take a moment to look at the featured art as you exit.  Taxis are readily available, and we will also have great discount deals on rental cars and shuttles! We arrived at the hotel, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront,  and headed right to bed, since we knew the next few days would be long—but did take a moment to appreciate our great view of the St. Johns River before collapsing into the very comfortable Hyatt beds.

We got up Monday morning bright and early—ready to meet with our hotel and AV representatives, along with a rep from Visit Jacksonville!  We ate at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Trellises—the shrimp and grits is quite a generous portion and we had a great breakfast! Afterwards we embarked on a tour of the facility. The Hyatt Jacksonville is a gorgeous space that is going to be the perfect place for our 2015 Conference.

One of our favorite spaces was the River Terrace, where we’ll be holding the “Sun and Sandals” Welcome Reception on Wednesday night! It opens onto a patio that overlooks the river, and is a beautiful spot to take in the views of Jacksonville.   Be sure to arrive early enough on Wednesday to attend this event, which will showcase some of the tasty recipes the South has to offer.  A ticket to the event is included in full and Thursday-only registrations, but please plan to bring your checkbook, as we will be raising funds to further awareness of Family and Consumer Sciences.

After exploring the hotel, we walked down the riverfront to Jacksonville Landing—a two-minute walk—where we enjoyed some delicious Mexican food al fresco! There are many restaurants to choose from, along with shopping options.  If you’d like to explore restaurants and shopping on the South Bank, you can catch a water taxi nearby.


L to R: Melanie Thomas, Duval County Extension office, and Phyllis Stafford, volunteer

After lunch, we headed over to the Duval County Extension office, to visit the Canning Center. While the Canning Center is associated with the Extension office, it’s run entirely by volunteers, which is a big endeavor! The space holds canning equipment for both jarred items and canned items. Members of the community can schedule an appointment with the volunteers and come in to can their own produce or other items. The Center also holds classes throughout the year, with the gift classes during holidays being the most popular!  This visit was one of our most inspiring excursion visits—we added a canning class with local produce on Wednesday as part of our Food Safety & Processing Tour, which will visit the Beaver Street Fisheries, the Farmers’ Market, and the Canning Center. We will offer a shorter trail mix canning class on Saturday, which will cover the basics of canning. Wednesday excursion attendees will also spend time in the Urban Garden, learning from a Master Gardener.

historyOnce we were done at the Canning Center—and we did not want to leave!—we headed down to historic Amelia Island. We began our time there at the Amelia Island History Museum, meeting with Tour Coordinator Thea Seagraves and learning about the history of the area.  Eight flags have flown over Amelia Island—can you guess which ones? The museum is located in a space that used to be a jail—and they use the space very creatively. It’s fun for all ages! Be sure to visit the gift shop—in my experience, museum gift shops are the best!

Next, we headed into Fernandina Beach, where the walking tour of the town’s historic buildings will be held, and where attendees will have time to explore!  The town, right on the water, is very quaint and offers a variety of small shops and eating options.  Excursion attendees will receive a Visa gift card, which can be spent at any of the many restaurants. Daila and I stopped for a mid-afternoon snack at Amelia Island Coffee and shared an Island cookie.  It was delicious, and the perfect stop on a cold and rainy evening (not weather to expect in June!).

We made it an early evening and headed back to the hotel to get some rest, as we knew Tuesday would be even busier!

Check back next week to read Part Two of my blog post.  Registration will be opening very soon, so stay tuned!

Inside Our St. Louis Excursions! (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

Thanks for coming back to hear about more great sights to see in St. Louis!


Our next stop was the Missouri Botanical Garden, where Tourism Manager Gene Peimann took us on a tram tour of the Garden, which was being set up for their holiday illuminations show. Unfortunately we missed the exhibition by just a few days—but it looked like it was going to be gorgeous! With 79 acres of exhibits, it would take many visits to see all the beautiful attractions, especially since several are ever-changing. We particularly enjoyed the Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden, with many donations straight from China, including a beautiful carved pavilion!

chihlyThe Garden has so much to offer that we encourage you to visit before or after Conference along with joining AAFCS for the Sustainability at the Missouri Botanical Garden excursion on Saturday morning. You’ll learn more about their sustainability efforts in beautiful surroundings. Be sure to take note of the beautiful Chihuly chandelier in the main lobby, leftover from their “Glass in the Garden” exhibit in  2006. Dale Chihuly is one of my favorite artists, so I was so excited to recognize his work! (If you live in the Seattle area, make sure to visit the Chihuly museum near the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s worth it!)

ravioliOur last stop of the day was at the Hill, one of the most famous neighborhoods in St. Louis. Hill native and tour guide for the Tour of the Hill excursion Joe DeGregorio met us at the famous Mama Toscano’s—where their specialty is the city’s signature “toasted ravioli.” We enjoyed a quick taste (be sure to try yours with marinara sauce!), and then Joe took us on an abbreviated tour of the neighborhood—one that will of course last much longer on the excursion. chocolateSince it was almost closing time, we hurried over to local business Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, where we were able to walk through their factory floor, see how the chocolate is made, and enjoy a sample! For chocolate lovers like ourselves, this was very exciting! After our visit, we headed over to take a look at several of the local restaurants, since the group will be lunching at one of the authentic Italian establishments—and chose Favazza’s, for both its fantastic menu and the great atmosphere. If only we’d had the time to eat dinner there! Even though it was getting dark, Joe was able to bring us to a few more places—a great local gift shop, and a wonderful Italian grocery that brought back memories of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, near where I grew up.  I wish I’d had room in my carry-on to bring home some delicious Italian specialties!

archAfter our long day, we headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest! But our visits were not done—the next day, we walked right across the street to the Gateway Arch, part of our Gateway Arch and Architecture tour. While we didn’t have too much time before our flights, we were able to take a quick look at the museum—and we know that the ranger-led tour will be fantastic. Once we had a chance to take a look at all the museum had to offer, we headed over to one of the other parts of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Old Courthouse. While we were there, we watched a short film on the Dred Scott case—which was heard in that very courthouse! This extremely important case had wide-reaching implications and acted as an indirect catalyst for the Civil War. The Old Courthouse is another stop on the Gateway Arch and Architecture tour.

Remember, the Architecture tour does NOT include a tram tour up the arch—but you can make reservations for one at any time of the day! If you’re going on the tour, you may even be able to squeeze in the first trip of the day.

courthouseThe Old Courthouse was our last stop on our whirlwind visit to St. Louis—and it was a great one! Sad to go, we headed back to the airport, which is a convenient 20 minutes away from the hotel.

We had so much fun in St. Louis, and it was very clear how much passion residents have for their city! We’re so excited for you to explore St. Louis and to check out what the city—and the conference—has to offer. We’re working hard here at AAFCS to make sure this is one of our best conferences yet—see you in St. Louis!

Inside Our St. Louis Excursions! (Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

St. Louis’s most iconic landmark is the Gateway Arch—but there’s so much more to this historic and vibrant city!

Last November, Daila Boufford, AAFCS director of professional development and market research, and I traveled to St. Louis to check out all that the city has to offer and report back to you why the 2014 Annual Conference in St. Louis is a can’t miss event!  In just a day and a half, we visited our fabulous hotel, the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, met with the gracious and helpful hotel staff, and visited all of the locations of our fantastic excursions!

In one day, we had seven tours to scout out, some of which had multiple locations—luckily, St. Louis is easy to navigate, and most attractions are within 20 minutes of the hotel.

We started our day bright and early at the Starbucks located conveniently in the hotel lobby. I don’t know about you, but a latte and a breakfast sandwich were a good way to start what was sure to be a long day of walking in the cold air! (luckily, we’ll be in Frappuccino weather by the time conference rolls around). Starbucks, of course, has many food options, from yogurt parfaits and fruit, to oatmeal, to baked goods, snacks, and breakfast sandwiches.

If you’re looking for something more substantial and won’t be joining AAFCS for breakfast, RED Kitchen offers a breakfast buffet all morning, and there’s a delicious room service menu! For lunches and dinners you also have some great options—when we got in on Monday, we hurried over to the Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar for some yummy fish tacos, and Monday night we ate at the largest Ruth’s Chris Steak House in North America, located on the other side of the lobby right next to RED Kitchen! Starbucks also has a refrigerator case of salads and sandwiches—perfect for grabbing between sessions!

HospitalOur first stop of the day was the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Food and Nutrition Department, where Clinical Nutrition Manager Amy Schrader, RD, LD, took us on a tour of the kitchens. The hospital was built in 1913—and some parts of the kitchen are original!  But don’t be fooled—the hospital kitchens are using up-to-date practices and systems to make sure that all patients are fed safely and healthily. In the picture to the left, you can see Daila and Amy discussing how gluten-free diets are handled. We learned all about how the complicated system works—and toured all of the kitchens, speaking with long-term employees and the professionally trained head chef. We also got a look at the brand-new industrial dishwasher—it’s the size of a walk-in closet! At the Saturday Food and Nutrition Hospital excursion, Amy will give a presentation about how the Department works with doctors and nutritionists to plan the best meals for patients, and how everything changes day to day. You’ll also take the tour of the kitchens, and speak with one or more of the chefs about how they chose their career path.

History MuseumNext on our list of places to see was the Missouri History Museum, part of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District of St. Louis. At the museum, we were met by Tourism and Group Sales Manager Tami Goldman, who spoke with us about the two great curator talks that will be a part of our Wednesday and Saturday museum excursions—and then we had a bit of time to check out the museum!  One of the highlights was the exhibit on the 1904 World’s Fair, the first to be held in the United States—the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. If you go on one of the museum excursions, make sure to visit this room, right inside the museum, and check out artifacts from the time along with a map of the 1500 buildings of the Exposition!  We were excited to see the Palace of Manufacturers, dedicated to hardware and textiles. The Palace also housed a display from Singer Sewing Machines. I was so excited to learn more about the very first US World’s Fair since my mother used to tell me stories about the 1964 New York City World’s Fair, at which she sang with her school choir!

Before we left, we also stepped into Bixby’s Restaurant, where the Wednesday excursion attendees will be eating, to admire the view of Forest Park—which will be even more beautiful in the summer!  The park is 1,371 acres, and encompasses almost all of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District of St. Louis, including the History Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum (the only remaining building from the World’s Fair) and the St. Louis Science Center. The last subdistrict of the Museum District is the Missouri Botanical Garden, which I’ll write about a bit later in the next post. If you have extra time and aren’t able to join us for a tour, I strongly suggest that you visit the park! You can hop on public transportation for about $3 and get to the park in 30 minutes, or drive in about 20.

After our quick visit at the museum, we headed over to Benton Park Café to meet with Barbara Gokenbach of Show Me MO Tours, who will be our tour guide for the architecture tour part of the Gateway Arch and Architecture Tour. Barbara gave us a taste of all the exciting places to see in St. Louis—and a few ideas for quick stops! She was great to meet with, and we know she’ll be offering a fantastic tour of the city. It was clear just how much she loves St. Louis, and loves talking about her city. Benton Park Café was also a great little find—and it may be the lunch stop for those attending the Anheuser-Busch Beermaster excursion!

HorseOnce we’d enjoyed a quick coffee pick-me-up with Barbara, we headed over to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. While we didn’t have much time due to our packed schedule, we were able to take the beginning of the free tour, which is included in the Beermaster Tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Daila was excited to see the famous Clydesdale horses,  as she grew up working with (much smaller) horses. You don’t realize quite how large they are until you’re standing right next to them!  The brewery was very interesting, and even spending time in the lobby you can learn quite a bit about it. They also have a new restaurant, the Biergarten, just off the lobby—this is the other option for the Beermaster lunch, pending the release of their full menu.

After the Brewery, we stopped for lunch at Rooster, where the architectural tour will be eating lunch.  Absolutely delicious—I really enjoyed the marinated chicken sandwich, and Daila loved the veggie burger! Rooster is very close to the hotel, so if you’re looking for a meal while out and about, we definitely recommend it.

Please come back to our blog next week to learn about the other wonderful St. Louis excursions!

Conference Inspiration

Hi, everyone,


Jessica Monfils (left) poses with Alyssa Bytnar (middle) and Cheryl Brueggen (right) at the AAFCS photo booth.

I just want tell you what a wonderful conference experience I had in Houston at the Annual Conference. I attended some great sessions, met incredible people, and left the conference inspired to do great things to help individuals and families in our world. I want to thank the staff for all their hard work and dedication to the conference. Being in the office, I have realized what goes on behind the scenes to put on a conference like this, and I can say that all the staff were very dedicated and worked diligently to deliver an awesome conference. I also want to share with you my favorite quotes and wisdom that I took away from this year’s conference.

“The mark of a truly educated man is to be moved deeply by statistics.” ~ George Bernard Shaw                  

“Whether we’re talking about sock or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” ~ Warren Buffet

“It it’s free…it’s for me.”

“Prevention makes common ‘cents.'” ~ Andrew Crocker

“Don’t just do something…stand there.” ~ Saul Alinsky

“Make and Eat Whole Fresh Foods!” ~ Ruth Dohner, CFCS

“Moving forward there are three things to remember:

          – Consider

          – Communicate

          – Collaborate”

                             ~ Peggy Wild, CFCS

These phrases reference the changes that are taking place in our country, schools, and communities. Some of the changes facing family and consumer sciences include changing demographics, rise of childhood obesity, technological advances, and economic and financial stability. Family and consumer sciences professionals can be the driving force to overcome these challenges by working to create a healthier future. All we need to remember is to consider, communicate, and collaborate!

– Jessica Monfils

New FCS Adventures Ahead!

Hi, everyone!

Lori Curles with Student of the Year Award

L to R: Melissa Wilmarth; Lori Curles, Student of the Year; and Connie Rash at the AAFCS Recognition and Celebration event during the 104th Annual Conference & Expo.

Wow! This summer has flown by! It is hard to believe that I have actually accomplished my dream of living in Washington, D.C. and working for AAFCS. I have made it through working the Annual Conference, creating the conference App, and completing so many other amazing tasks I have been given.  I have truly enjoyed working at AAFCS.  In saying that, my internship will be cut short because I just got a full-time  job teaching family and consumer sciences in a middle school in Brunswick, Georgia! I am so excited for this next step in my life and grateful for all the amazing opportunities that I have had here at AAFCS.  I might be moving far away from the national office, but AAFCS will always be a big part of my life and I will remain actively involved.

– Lori Curles