I have been to Texas countless times. I always enjoy my time there, especially when visiting my sister and her family down in Harlingen. My most recent trip was to the REALTORS® Land Institute’s 2016 National Land Conference in Dallas. I have visited enough to where I playfully laugh off some of the “Texas-isms” I am so used to hearing, namely “Everything is bigger in Texas.” That one came up a lot during the advertising and early stages of this conference. It wasn’t just a cute saying however; this time they were serious. Barring an emergency or the birth of a child (the reason for my 2015 absence) I don’t miss the National Land Conference. I love my one year old but thank goodness he isn’t a big brother because the Dallas conference was a can’t miss event.
There are many reasons professionals across the country leave home for a few days in March to attend; I go for two mains reasons. First of all, the educational value is exceptional. It is easy to get lost in your own neighborhood sometimes. Traveling to hear world class speakers, national experts and legislative representatives is an invaluable experience. Just take a look at my Saturday schedule to capture a small sample: I started the day hearing from renowned economist Dr. Mark Dotzour and Senior Credit Risk Officer of SunTrust Bank, KC Conway. After participating in a 45 minute Q&A session with both distinguished speakers, the agenda then provided a wide variety of 45 minute breakout sessions throughout the day. I was able to get first-hand information on potential tax reform and how that could affect agriculture. I learned about “Delaware Statutory Trusts” becoming a more commonly used method of a 1031 exchange. I was able to spend some time focusing on our business and heard from a Public Relations professional and listened to a presentation on better utilizing technology to brand ourselves and serve our clientele. I also participated in breakout sessions centered on networking and collaboration with other firms. This was just one day! The conference was three days long. I haven’t even talked about the breakfast round tables, legislative updates straight from Washington or the presentations on new technology.
Where else can I glean that much knowledge in three days from that caliber of sources? I leave the National Land Conference every year a better land consultant, broker and farm manager. The quality and depth of the education keeps me coming back year after year.
The other main reason I attend is the people. The opportunity to gather with accomplished and trusted colleagues is an amazing experience. The chance to bounce ideas off one another, share stories and ideas is a monumental learning experience in itself. The REALTORS® Land Institute is like many organizations in that you get out what you put in. I have been fortunate to become involved with the Illinois chapter. I was honored to accept the “National Chapter of the Year” award on behalf of Illinois (shameless plug for my Illinois friends). The genuine friendships made and professional networking is immense within the REALTORS® Land Institute organization. It also is a valuable resource for my clients. I have a network of trusted and accredited professionals across the nation who would be happy to help and assist our clients should their scope expand beyond west central Illinois. Even if they don’t, I am more equipped than ever to handle tax reform, 1031 exchanges, legal issues, communication and collaborative marketing efforts on their behalf.
It was a memorable and valuable trip. Barring an unexpected third Worrell baby (my wife, and proofreader, panicked a little when she read that!), next year’s conference in Charlotte is on my schedule. I simply can’t afford to miss it…And neither can you.
Luke Worrell, ALC, is a Broker and Accredited Farm Manager at Worrell Land Services in Jacksonville, IL. He specializes in agricultural real estate and land management in west central IL. Luke enjoys all things sports and traveling. He resides in Springfield, IL, with his wife Allison and sons Kale and Benson.