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AWRA 2018 Annual Water Resources Conference 
Nov. 4 - 8
Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD


General Information:
Many travel budgets and training budgets have been slashed, and some organizations are experiencing severe financial problems. This means that regardless of the merits of the conference, you’ll probably need to justify the expense. So here are some ideas you might want to consider:

  • Focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as return for the investment.
  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues to share what you learned. That way others in your unit will get the benefits of your attendance, too. 
  • Share the final program and abstract links with your colleagues. As an attendee, you have unlimited access to materials posted by speakers.
  • If you are working to obtain or maintain your professional designation (PE, PH, PG, etc.), remind your supervisor that this is a great way to earn up to1.5 CEU’s at a nominal additional cost.
  • Be ready with a plan that shows who will cover for you while you are attending the conference.
  • Be sure to check out the registration page where all the various rates are listed to see if you qualify for any of the lower rates or discounts.

Unsuccessful with the boss?  There’s one more idea you may not have thought of.  Keep track of your conference expenses and write them off on your personal income tax:

  • If you are an employee and can itemize your deductions, you may be able to claim a deduction for the expenses you pay for your work-related education.  Your deduction will be the amount by which your qualifying work-related education expenses plus other job and certain miscellaneous expenses is greater than 2% of your adjusted gross income.  An itemized deduction reduces the amount of your income subject to tax.

See IRS Publication 970, Chapter 12 and consult your tax advisor for complete details. http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch12.html#en_US_2011_publink1000178645

Sample Letter to Supervisor/Manager:

Below, you'll find a "justification letter" template ~ a letter to your supervisor explaining all of the benefits you'll get from attending the AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference, how they will make you a better employee, and help advance your organization.  You can use the "Justification to Calculate ROI for Attendance" to figure out the conference costs for your letter to your Supervisor of Manager.

This general template will get you started while allowing you to customize it to you and your organization's particular needs. <Bracketed> items need to be replaced with your information or removed.

Dear <Supervisor's name>,

I would like to attend the 2018 AWRA <insert name of conference> Conference, <insert date>, in <insert location>.  The conference will enable me to attend a number of education sessions that are directly applicable to my work and will allow me to network with a variety of water resources experts and colleagues from around the world. Many of the presentations are tailored to the <Insert your primary function here i.e. hydrologist, geologist, water engineer, etc.> and provide information on <insert benefits/lessons here, for example: lessons learned, insights and tools relevant to issues, problems and opportunities in our region.>. I am asking our organization to pay for or reimburse me for the registration fee, travel expenses to the conference, and living expenses during the conference. A detailed cost breakdown is included below.

After reviewing the conference website/program, I have identified a number of program sessions which will allow me to increase my knowledge and understanding and how to improve my job performance. The presentations are given by our peers who have faced similar challenges and cover a wide range of water resources topics from a variety of perspectives. I chose several of these presentations because they directly related to an issue we are currently dealing with. Getting the information in a presentation format will greatly reduce the research time and costs that <your organization’s name> would normally incur in researching the topics. Incidentally, I have only listed some of the sessions that I will attend. Including them all would make this memo much too long.

<You will need to insert the session and/or presentation descriptions which most apply to your area of focus.>

<The numbers in brackets below is adjusted to reflect the current pricing. The travel costs vary as well and should be changed to reflect your costs.>

The full price conference fee is <refer to registration information page for applicable rates>, but will be reduced $200 by registering before the super saver deadline of September 4th.  

Here is the breakdown of conference costs: 
Roundtrip Airfare: <$xxxx>
Transportation: <$xxxx>
Hotel: <$xxxx>
Meals: <$xxxx>
Conference Fee: <$xxxx>

The total costs associated with attending this conference are: <$xxxx>.