Not a lanyard that hangs around the neck of a delegate goes unadorned with pins here at the Conference On National Affairs. Throughout meal hours, in between sessions, and discretely in committees, you will find delegates who have been divided by state lines (who) come together to trade pins in a legendary tradition.
There is, of course, the few coveted pins that one will find delegates on their knees begging for throughout the week such as the 2009 California ‘Rainbow Teardrop’ pin, the Georgia ‘Golden Peanut’ pin, and the Alabama ‘Bob’ pin – to name a few. This engaging process is ongoing throughout the week. Some delegates find themselves with an abundance of pins covering every square inch of their blue and white lanyard.
While most delegations only have one pin designed to share with the rest of the conference, the Texas delegation brought a variety of pins that they had designed for this week. South Carolina’s pins are deserving of an award for practicality because of their pin’s lightweight and symbolization of a tree that represents our nation’s endeavor to achieve a ‘green’ environment. The delegation of Delaware chose to create a pin that reflects their home state, in which the chicken population greatly outnumbers the human population.
A few female members of the California delegation found their pin-filled lanyards to be a perfect makeshift alarm if hung on the inside doorknob of their room in the Lee Hall Building. Arielle Pardes jokes that “while the pins I have collected will serve as simple reminders of my wonderful week at CONA, I am also able to sleep soundly at night knowing that these pins are aiding in my protection and that they could potentially save my life.”
Popularity and protection seem to send delegates on a search for as many pins as possible, but no matter the number of pins that hang around one’s neck, there is something to take back home. Every state brings something different to the table and when it all boils down, each pin is of equal value. It is a symbolic memory of every state that is kept forever.

By Amber Neukum, California and Steph Luczak, Connecticut