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The Nebraska Correctional Association: Opening Many Doors of Opportunity.

Editor's Note: The Nebraska Correctional Association (NCA) was in the process of changing presidents while this article was being written. Mike Kenney was president at that time. Larry Wayne became president Oct. 22.

When Nabraska Correctional Association (NCA) members attend conferences, they most likely will see many familiar faces. Conferences and meetings are important gathering places for this 60-member association because members can exchange ideas and form relationships with others in the corrections field.

"NCA is unique in that many of our members know one another and their career backgrounds quite well," says Mike Kenney, NCA's past president, who has been in corrections for 23 years. "NCA is smaller than other correctional associations because of our state's size and the amount of correctional facilities we have. Being smaller creates a comfortable environment for our members to exchange ideas, concerns and grievances and form close, comfortable relationships," he adds. "This is essential for all in the corrections field."

According to Kenney, networking is an important aspect of corrections. "Through networking, corrections professionals can share their knowledge and experiences with one another," he says. "NCA is a gathering place for folks in a field that is not always appreciated. We want our members to feel a sense of unity with others in the correctional industry and encourage them to be the best they can be."

One of the best ways NCA encourages networking is through its conferences, which give members the opportunity to establish relationships with a variety of corrections professionals (both members and nonmembers) and gain valuable resources. This year's fall conference was Oct. 22, in York, Neb. Speakers included Charles Wolff and Mary Kay Mueller. Wolff, former warden of the Nebraska State Penitentiary, spoke about the changes he has seen in the corrections field and speculated on its future.

Mueller, a prominent national speaker and expert on self-esteem and self-improvement, spoke about the value of a positive work culture and the pressures of a stressful job. She offered insight on how to lower stress and maintain self-esteem in an often thankless job.

"We needed to take a holistic approach for this conference so we could truly assist our members in their professional growth and development," Kenney says. "Wolff provided a thought-provoking and scholarly perspective of correctional law and inmate management, while Mueller's workshop enabled members to focus on their own personal feelings, thoughts and needs."

NCA is in the process of changing its conference schedule. Normally, NCA has two, one-day conferences per year. However, NCA feels members will benefit more from an annual two- or three-day conference. "We think we will get greater participation and results if we put all of our resources into one annual conference," says Kenney. "The lengthened time will give members more opportunities to establish relationships with others in their profession. Informal networking is a very important aspect of the corrections community and we want to improve this network of information-sharing," he adds.

NCA will have its spring 2000 conference next year and, if all goes according to plan, its first annual conference in fall 2000.

Another change NCA is making also involves networking, but this networking includes those who are not yet in the corrections field. NCA is developing a "recruitment program" for criminal justice students. In the past, NCA always has welcomed both faculty and students to its conferences. However, this year, NCA specifically contacted 17 universities and colleges in Nebraska to ask criminal justice professors to inform their students about the conference and offered a student discount. According to Kenney, having college and university students attend conferences is vital to corrections. "We see great potential in criminal justice majors and would like to help them enter the field." Kenney says. "Our conferences act as a springboard, informing them about the variety of correctional opportunities and putting them in contact with others in this field."

NCA also supports future correctional employees by contributing to a scholarship fund for criminal justice students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The scholarship is awarded once a year to a deserving criminal justice student. Kenney thinks this is another important part of the recruitment process that will further encourage future corrections professionals.

"There has been an extremely high level of enthusiasm at NCA and we are definitely on the upswing," says Kenney, who uses his knowledge and experience to continue NCA's success. Although he is sad his term as president is up, he is sure NCA's success will continue. "I am very pleased with all we have done and I know our new president, Larry Wayne, will continue NCA's success."

Elizabeth Klug is assistant editor of Corrections Today.

Vital Statistics

* Founded: 1979.

* Objectives: NCA seeks to provide correctional excellence through information-sharing and the exchange of ideas and thought-provoking innovations. NCA also seeks to maintain a standard of excellence, commitment and professionalism in an industry that is vital to public safety.

* Leadership: Comprised of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, three district representatives (based on population) and three county liaisons from local correctional systems.

* Membership: Approximately 60 members.

* Conferences: NCA currently has a spring and fall conference each year.
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Correctional Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Klug, Elizabeth
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 1999
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