Jessica Stugelmayer joined AFJ as a member in June 2016. She won a 2017 James Beard Foundation Media "Best Television Segment" Award for her work on "Harvesting Alaska", which includes stories on yak farming and more. We asked Jessica to share the top three reasons she is investing her time and money to attend the 2017 AFJ annual conference in Philadelphia.  

When I am deciding whether or not to attend a conference, I have to justify the hefty price tag of traveling from Alaska. Here’s why I’m going to the AFJ conference in Philadelphia.

Priceless connections - The people you meet at this conference will be the ones you reach out to when visiting a new city or writing about a type of regional cuisine. During a recent trip to San Francisco, a journalist I sat next to at an awards dinner met me for a drink in a great little dive bar and we discussed ways to find funding as independent producers.

Inspiration - Get out of the daily grind and dream up new projects while surrounded by some of the brightest minds in our industry. Anne Lamott wrote that writers spend their days listening, observing, and storing things away. Then we take it home and turn it into gold. (Or at least we try.)

Future collaborations - After you’ve met these amazing people and come up with innovative ideas, you’ll go your separate ways. But weeks, months, maybe even years after the conference, those connections could lead to something more – maybe you start the next big thing like Canal House or invent the successor of the Tasty-style videos.