I was so blessed to be able to attend the RootsTech 2015 conference this year as an ambassador! I had never been before and have to say that I was a bit intimidated by the sheer size of it. There were so many classes, keynote speakers, vendors in the Expo hall, and genealogical enthusiasts, that I thought for sure I wouldn’t fit in. But guess what? I totally did! That is probably one of the most amazing things about the RootsTech conference, is how there is something for everyone. No matter your experience level or technological expertise, there were classes and speakers to fit every person who had a desire to be involved.
Once you get past the intimidation you may feel about the size of the conference, the awesomeness of the speakers and the vast collection of great classes you can take, you start to find your footing and pretty much dive head first. Due to some conflicts of appointments, I couldn’t attend everything that I wanted to. Such is life! But luckily Jenn, Lisa, Gena, and Angela will be able to fill you in on all the awesomeness that I missed. Trust me, by the time we are done, you will feel like you were there yourself!
The opening night celebrations were so much fun! We were treated to the One Voice Children’s Choir featuring Lexi Walker, and the amazing Alex Boye! The talent of the One Voice Children’s Choir was awe inspiring. I was seriously so impressed with how beautifully they sang and how much fun they seemed to have while performing. I also loved how Alex Boye shared some stories with us while he performed. Hearing about his history, trials and triumphs was so great. I loved his Lemonade song, but didn’t know the story behind it. Hearing him share that part of his life brought tears to my eyes and made me admire the man that he is even more than I already had.
I had been looking forward to Saturday morning’s keynote speakers since I found out about the conference. First up was A.J. Jacobs. I have to tell you, the dedication this man has to his work is probably one of the most impressive things I have ever witnessed. A.J. uses himself as a guinea pig instead of just studying habits of others. He actually undertook living by Bible commandments and rules for an entire year. I think the majority of us try our very best to be good people and follow the things that we believe to the best of our ability. But he actually read several versions of the Bible to make sure he didn’t miss anything. While I’m sure that living biblically was not an easy undertaking, he did it and related his experiences with intelligence and humor. He even has a book about it, which I can’t wait to read! His current project is a Global Family Reunion. He has thrown himself completely into genealogy and family history. A.J. has challenged himself to find all his “cousins” and once again, his dedication and humor keeps you enthralled in his project and has you wanted to learn more about your own family history. He’s even gotten many celebrities in on his “I am a cousin” movement and it’s just awesome. What I love most about his idea is that he’s hoping that by recognizing we are all probably related in one way or another, somewhere down the line, that it might help create a kinder world. A place where we are truly a global family, looking out for each other’s best interests instead of perpetually seeing the worst in those around us. What a bold move and positive step in a world where lately we see so much negativity. A.J. certainly inspired me to be kinder and reach out more to those around me. He is holding the first ever Global Family Reunion on June 6th, 2015! Be sure that you keep yourself in the loop for all the awesomeness that is sure to come from this!
Next to come was pretty much a dream come true for me. Growing up, I was raised on The Osmonds and loved them. That love was cultivated mostly by my mom who of course taught us in the ways of The Osmonds. We were so very lucky to get to hear Donny Osmond share his thoughts with us on family history and genealogy. He is such genuine person and the love he has for his family and his ancestors is very apparent. I loved how he truly lit up when he spoke of his ancestors…people he’s never met but felt so inspired by. He shared with us how knowing the history of his family had given his a great sense of belonging and also an idea of where many of his personal characteristics and attitudes came from. It was really amazing to listen to him speak. One of my favorite things that Donny said was “What lasts the longest are family ties.” This truly spoke to my heart. He shared such amazing stories about his own family and different things they had gone through. I come from a close knit family and have always loved how much fun my family has when we get together. We have created so many lasting memories, and I’m so grateful for every single one of them. Now that I have a family of my own, I’m going to do my best to instill in my children the same ideals. Family is where you turn when you feel like you have no where to go. Family is forever.
During the conference I met a few new friends. One of them was Pat from DearMYRTLE. She was so kind and helpful! She’s basically a genius in the ways of genealogy and family history…even if she won’t admit it! 🙂 I was so excited with all the information she shared with me and all the help she was willing to give me since I am just starting out on this whole family history journey! Pat has such a love and passion for it, that you can’t help but get excited to start after talking to her! She even interviewed us as newbies at RootsTech! I’m sure if you hop over to her blog you’ll be able to watch it!
The last person I was able to meet with at RootsTech 2015 was the super awesome and sweet Noelle Pikus Pace! For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, she’s an Olympic Silver medalist, business owner of SnowFire Hats, author, mother, wife and all around amazing person! In our short interview I got to learn so much about her and her love for her family. She shared a super cute story about a journal she found of one of her uncles. It told about his journey as he traveled all around for work, doing different things. She told us about how he wasn’t a great writer, but he wrote with honesty and humor, that he is one of her favorite ancestors! It was also so great to hear her love of the gospel and how involved she is in being an inspiration and role model to the youth of today. It was truly an honor to get to speak with her!
I am really so blessed to have gotten to be a part of RootsTech 2015. It has truly opened my eyes to the world of family history and imprinted on me once again how important it is to gather and share the stories of our families, past and present, so our future families can know all about us. I hope you are excited to hear from the other housewives about their experiences, because I know they are excited to share! And make sure you mark your calendars for next years RootsTech Conference, February 3-6th, 2016!