This year marked the Academy’s 100th annual Food & Nutrition Expo & Conference (FNCE), hosted here in our city of Chicago. I feel lucky that I was able to experience FNCE for the first time at home and am thankful that I now have enough bars and snacks to last me until next year. Even though I may be exhausted after 5 days of activities, I am so energized to have been surrounded by my peers and I’m already planning what I would do differently next year to gain even more. I left FNCE feeling inspired to be a part of the RD community and I’m looking forward to a year of growth. Here are a few tips for future FNCE newbies:
- Footwear and fluids: It may seem like a no-brainer, but comfortable shoes are a must. Speed walking to educational sessions on opposite ends of the conference and perusing the aisles of the expo hall led me to tired, sore feet, so make sure to choose something that can be worn for a full day. I also found myself drinking less water than normal and with all that walking, I was constantly thirsty, even with the filling stations scattered throughout the conference center.
- Key learning: Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and even an extra pair of shoes, especially if a quick swap after the day’s sessions won’t be possible before attending a DPG or other sponsored event in the evening.
- Devise a plan, but go with the flow: Weeks before FNCE, I scoured the schedule and planned out each and every educational session I wanted to attend. However, I didn’t take into account that attending sessions all day wasn’t realistic – that’s a lot of lecture to sit through! I also ended up running into old classmates and colleagues and spent time catching up, so I didn’t make it to every session I had planned on.
- Key learning: Did you know that all session recordings are included in the registration fee and available online to access on CDR’s website? And RDs can claim up to 30 CPEs of these recorded pre-approved CPE (Activity Type 175) in each 5-year recertification cycle. So both the sessions attended in person and the ones watch online can be counted towards those 75 CPEs.
- Network, network, network: Yes, earning CPEs are a necessary part of keeping the RD credential up-to-date, but FNCE is about so much more than collecting free samples and earning CPEs. This year, with over 13,000 nutrition professionals in one place, it was the perfect place to meet peers and build new relationships. Business cards are super easy (and cheap!) to make online and show initiative, especially if you are looking to land a job!
- Key takeaway: It was hard to chat on the expo floor or in between sessions, so join DPGs and take advantage of events hosted both during the day and in the evenings to connect with other RDs who have similar interests.
See you next year in Washington, D.C.!