Toni has worked over the years to spread the love of basketry and gourds to other adults and youth. In 1997, she started a conference of basket and gourd classes was held at College of the Sequoias called “Baskets and Gourds – Containers of our Culture'” with eight teachers from around the state and Arizona. The keynote speaker as well as a teacher for this event was Ginger Summit. In 1998, Carol Rookstool, President of California Gourd Society was the keynote speaker for the conference.
Since the conference was becoming too much for one person to handle, there was a hiatus until 2010 when a committee was formed to make the conference possible. This conference grew with teachers and students. The Elks Lodge became the home for classes, the teachers’ market place, classes and the key note speaker. The keynote speakers for the resumption of the conference were again, Ginger Summit, noted author, and Sue Coleman, a Washoe basketmaker. Don Weeke, renowned gourd artist from Julien, CA, was keynote speaker and teacher in 2012. Flo Hoppe, a world traveler, basket artist, and author was the keynote speaker and teach in 2014.
There were 18 teachers from all over the country in 2014. Students came from as far away as Hawaii and Wisconsin. One of the missions of the now biennial conference was to offer scholarships to disadvantaged youth. Thirteen scholarships were given – to the delight of the students as well as the teachers.
The next conference in 2016 will host Bonnie Gibson as the keynote speaker and teacher. The goal is to give twenty-five scholarhips to youth. This conference is an important event for the Visalia community as well as the attendees from California and Arizona.
Toni hopes that by helping to chair this event, she is spreading the love of baskets and gourds to other people whether they are local, or visiting from around the country.
Toni has more recently taught her craft at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN, as well as Pocosin School of Fine Craft in Columbia, NC.