This past week I’ve been in Montana, and presented a workshop on how to use social media in tobacco dependence education, at the 2013 National Smokeless and Spit Tobacco Summit.

What’s #NSSTS13?
Many things are discussed in this forum: addiction, different forms of smokeless and spit tobacco, how hard it is for users to quit, chemicals and harmful things in smokeless and spit tobacco, negative health effects, prevention, cessation, treatment modalities, the tobacco industries marketing tactics, youth advocacy, and tobacco-free campuses. You name it, they covered it! I’ve probably missed a topic or two – when there are 4 – 5 break-out sessions, you have to prioritize, but inevitable miss things. To make the most of a conference, I always follow the conference hashtag.

Twitter Catches Me Up On All Sessions
I love following and using conference hashtags, because I get gems from the other concurrent speakers. I really appreciate when somebody else tweets pearls of wisdom from the speakers I couldn’t hear. You can chat back and forth with another attendee about either subject in your room or from different rooms. It’s interesting. That’s one of the best things about Twitter, the ability to utilize hashtags in this way during a conference or class. OK, there’s other great things. I also love taking questions at the podium from Twitter. It allows those who may be shy to ‘speak up’, because I’ll pause at some point, read a question out loud and address it with the entire class.

But, it’s not just a conference…
I really enjoy #NSSTS13, because they are very friendly and also organize entertaining activities. They offered a baseball game the first night and a BBQ with live bluegrass music another night. There were organized morning hikes, in fabulously gorgeous mountains! I really enjoyed the scenery of the Montana mountains during my morning hikes. The last day, a group was going floating down the river. Yes, I joined the group. Turns out, they did allot more than float! We went river rafting! It was my first time & tons of fun. You can check out the #WallOfWater and other pictures on Pinterest

After three days of being with such caring people, who are genuinely concerned for others health and addictions, this statue named, “Charging Forward” seems to sum up the Summit nicely. They will leave their separate ways and charge forward with new information to bring back to their respective disciplines.

This particular piece sits proudly in front of the University of Montana’s Recreation Center and football stadium parking lot. It also happens to have been created from discarded pieces of metal, that were discarded and found by the artist.

May we all have the opportunity to find something that somebody else decided was worthless and make it into something beautiful.

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