RootsTech 2020 – Sessions, Meetups and a Surprise!

RootsTech 2020 speaker

Rootstech is going to be here before you know it! I’m excited about speaking and all of the surrounding activities. There’s so much going on.

I want to share some of my tips about how to plan and manage your schedule plus RootsTech survival tips. If you can’t attend in person, there’s still something for you too.

I’d like to invite you to attend my presentations and other appearances. Many speakers make cameo appearances in places other than their official RootsTech classes – and I’m no exception. I hope that you’ll attend my sessions and other activities where I can meet you. I’ll be bringing my ribbons along too, so be sure to get one to add to your “ribbon chain” collection.

2019 DNAexplain ribbon

My Scheduled Appearances

I’m presenting two official RootsTech sessions that I think you’re going to love, plus an open Q&A, attending a “Meet the DNA ToolMakers” meetup, giving two 15-minute booth sessions and….drum roll…an announcement of a new collaborative science initiative.

RootsTech 2020 summary schedule.png

Here’s my quick schedule summary with details and a map below:

  1. Kicking DNA Up a Notch to UnMask Unknown Ancestors – Wednesday at 11, Emerald Room – Are you just confirming known ancestors – or are you using available tools to unmask previously unknown ancestors? This intermediate to advanced session covers one-of-a-kind tools available from FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry, 23andMe, GedMatch, Genetic Affairs, DNAGedcom and DNAPainter. By the time you leave, you will be able to understand the unique aspects of each tool and how to combine them with genealogical resources such as Geni and WikiTree to obtain clues about breaking down those elusive brick walls.
  2. Native American DNA: Confirming those Stories – Wednesday at 1:30, Room 255D – In this intermediate level class, I’ll introduce you to some lesser-known resources available to researchers searching for Native American ancestors. Understanding history helps researchers understand why we need different approaches for Native research. Verification of Native American heritage can come from a variety of DNA tools provided by different vendors. Ethnicity can provide a hint, or not, but what next? Learn how to utilize Native American segment identification from 23andMe, segment painting from DNAPainter and other tools such as Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA from FamilyTreeDNA to find and confirm your Native ancestor(s).
  3. Ask Me Anything (AMA, about DNA anyway) – Wednesday 5:45, Family Tree DNA booth #1117 – I’ll be in the Family Tree DNA booth after the RootsTech opening session on Wednesday beginning at 5:45. I’ll be available to answer questions related to Y DNA, mitochondrial or autosomal DNA. Of course, we can’t find your ancestors in 45 minutes (don’t I wish), but if you have a DNA related question that you’ve been wondering about, come on over. Besides that, I’d love to meet you! I’ll be there at least until 6:30 or as long as there are people with questions or the hall closes, whichever comes first. Stop in and say “hey.”
  4. Meet the DNA ToolMakers – Thursday at 11 AM, Speaker Meetup area in the Expo Hall – The DNA testing vendors are wonderful, but the independent add-on tools take our results to the next level. Have you ever wanted to meet the DNA toolmakers – the people behind those tools – maybe to take selfies, share ideas or ask a question? Now’s your chance! Along with Rob Warthen of DNAGedcom and Jonny Perl of DNAPainter, I’ll be in the speaker meetup area in the Expo Hall from 11:00-11:30 on Thursday. Come on by and noodle with some of the greatest minds in our business. Everyone is welcome!
  5. Incorporating 52 Ancestors into WikiTree – Friday 3:45, WikiTree booth #1311 – Join me for this 15-minute session where I’ll share research strategies using WikiTree to both write and then leverage my 52 Ancestors article series. Make WikiTree work for you both before and after. Those 52 Ancestor’s stories make the BEST cousin bait.
  6. The Million Mito Project: Tracing the Family Tree of Womankind – Saturday 10:20, Demo Center in the Expo Hall – You’ll definately want to be present for this 15 minute session in the Demo Theater (with couches as seats) to learn about this history-making initiative that will change the matrilineal genetic landscape as we know it. I can’t tell you any more just yet. Yes, it’s a secret – but trust me, you don’t want to miss out. Come be a part of history unfolding. (PS – There’s a drawing at the end and some lucky person is going to win a full mitochondrial sequence test.)
  7. The Million Mito Project: Tracing the Family Tree of Womankind – Saturday 12:10, FamilyTreeDNA booth #1117 – Can’t make the Million Mito Project announcement Saturday morning in the Demo Theater? No problem. I’m presenting again in the FamilyTreeDNA booth.

The Lay of the Land

I’ve marked the locations where I’ll be on the Expo Hall map below with the red star numbers corresponding to the appearances, above.

Rootstech 2020 show floor

click to enlarge

The Emerald Room is located THROUGH the Expo Hall, through the doors at the rear. Room 255D is located on the second-floor mezzanine, in front of the Expo Hall. You can’t see those rooms here, but you will when you’re standing there.

Can’t Attend RootsTech in Person?

Did you know that 21 sessions, including the keynotes, will be livestreamed and available to watch for free? The livestream schedule is here.

In addition, another 30 classes will be recorded and available to watch online 2 or 3 weeks after the close of Rootstech for Virtual Pass holders. Here’s the list of included classes and yes, my session, “Kicking DNA up a Notch to Unmask Unknown Ancestors” is included in that group. All recorded sessions will be available for 12 months and the cost is $129 if you aren’t attending RootsTech.

RootsTech Survival and Planning Strategies

Someone recently asked how to plan for RootsTech since there are so many wonderful sessions to choose from, and many are running concurrently. The first survival hint involves the Virtual Pass.

  • If you are attending RootsTech 2020, but you want to see sessions whose times conflict with each other, you can purchase an add-on virtual pass for $79 which allows you to watch those sessions later. You don’t have to decide now, as you can still purchase after the conference until September 1st, but if you know you’re going to purchase the Virtual Pass, then you may plan your time at the show differently.
  • It’s important to use the downloadable RootsTech conference phone app that includes the ability to search and view classes by day and by speaker. However, the most important part for me is the “My Schedule” portion which allows me to easily click on the class I want and put it on my conference schedule in the app. I can also add personal things to the calendar like appointments.
  • Another aspect of Rootstech to consider is when the show floor, called the Expo Hall, is open, and when it isn’t. On Wednesday during the day, the Expo Hall is not open until after the main session. Then, the Expo Hall with exhibitors is open for the evening and there are no competing sessions.
  • Many of the vendors have demo areas in their booths and do short classes – generally 15 minutes or so – a few longer. That’s free education, especially if you like their product and would like to learn more – or you want to see a demonstration. To be honest with you, the Expo Hall is one of my favorite aspects of the show. It’s wonderful to see “all things genealogy” in one place and to get to meet the vendors in person.
  • When you arrive, you’ll see vendor brochures in your goodie bag. Look through the bag for booth event schedules and add things you want to attend in the conference app on your schedule. (Not all booth events are listed on the pre-printed schedule, so check out the booth of any vendor that interests you.) Many conference speakers make appearances as guest speakers in vendor booths to share the love. I’ll be in the Family Tree DNA booth and the WikiTree booth making presentations, as noted on my schedule above.
  • Look at a map of the facility and figure out where you are going before you need to get there. There’s a facility map in the RootsTech phone app under “RootsTech documents.”
  • The Demo Theater isn’t mentioned much in advance, but it’s an area in the Exhibit Hall where vendors can sign up for 15-minute slots to give mini-sessions about products or live demonstrations. Check out that schedule after arriving.

Rootstech demo theater

Demo Theater sessions are free, seat about 100 people ON COUCHES (your feet and back will thank RootsTech), first come, first serve and generally there’s a drawing for something from that vendor at the end of each session. Often, the vendors make announcements or you’ll hear about their latest and greatest feature. Please note that I’m appearing in the Demo Theater on Saturday morning at 10:20 to tell you all about The Million Mito Project.

  • Speaking of the Expo Hall, Saturday is the busiest day of the show for two reasons. Local people who work during the week attend on Saturday, plus the Family Day Discovery pass for Saturday is free for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can compare the various Rootstech passes here, including the one day passes.
  • Stuff gets heavy – the convention center is HUGE, and anything you’re carrying will become VERY heavy over the course of the day. Minimize. Consider a cross-body small purse that will hold your cell and credit cards and leave everything else in your hotel room. You’ll receive a lightweight conference bag to put treasures in, so utilize that. I bring a laminated nametag made into a luggage tag to put on my conference bag since they all look alike. There is no place, other than the coat check, to leave anything, and you don’t want to leave anything other than your coat there, if that.
  • Plan for food and water. Many food vendors are available in the conference center, but you may want to eat off-hours. At 12 noon, the lines are quite long. Plan accordingly and be prepared to stand and wait. I’ve been known to purchase my meal in the morning, assuming it’s something like a wrap, put it in my bag and have a picnic later someplace.
  • Wear your most comfortable, supportive shoes. Yes, seriously. This is not the time to worry about fashion. Be prepared for snow and cold – it’s winter – although they generally do a great job of snow-removal.
  • I Uber or Lyft using the apps on my phone. I gave up renting cars, navigating and worrying about parking in strange cities years ago. Note that there is construction at the convention center this year. There is also bus service from the airport, but I’ve never used it.
  • Don’t forget that the Family History Library is down the street just a couple blocks. There are few evening activities at RootsTech, but the Expo Hall is open. The FHL often has extended show hours. Plan what you’re going to do before you go by using the FamilySearch search application and focus on the catalog.

Rootstech FamilySearch catalog.png

  • In addition, I constantly use the FamilySearch wiki to figure out what is available from the location I need to research. If you show up at the FHL without a plan, it’s kind of like being in the library of Alexandria without a roadmap. The volunteers at the FHL are very kind and extremely helpful – and don’t worry about unsolicited religious pressure – there is absolutely none. (I’ve been visiting Family History Centers for more than 30 years, do not attend that church, and there has never been any pressure or even discussion unless I asked a question.)
  • RootsTech has published their own survival guide here.

I have so much to do to get ready yet. Hope to see you there!!!



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2 thoughts on “RootsTech 2020 – Sessions, Meetups and a Surprise!

  1. Roberta,
    I just sent you an e mail concerning your session, “Native American DNA, Confirming those stories”.
    Lenny Trujillo

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