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Monday, February 21
 

7:00am MST

Field Learning Experience: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: An Intimate Experience Learning about the Sonoran Desert’s Flora and Fauna
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) is unlike most museums you’ve ever experienced with 85% of its 98 acres being outdoors. Consistently ranked as a Top 10 museum in the nation via Tripadvisor.com, the ASDM provides a unique and memorable experience to learn about the diverse flora and fauna found in the Sonoran Desert. It is a fusion experience: part zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, aquarium and art gallery.

Here you will find 21 interpretive acres with 2 miles of walking paths through different desert habitats with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and mountain ranges. On display to see, enjoy and experience are 4,892 living specimens 242 animal species and plants from 1,200 taxa and 56,000 individual specimens. Between 110 and 120 of the living species at the ASDM are considered to be of conservation concern.

We will depart the Academy at 8 a.m. and travel via bus to the ASDM. This trip can accommodate all who register and is a 45-minute drive, during which folks can get reacquainted and meet new people within the Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism industry from across North America. Vouchers will be provided for a diverse array of locally sourced Southwest cuisine lunch options that can be enjoyed at your leisure inside or outside on terraces with spectacular views. Included in this experience will be a guided 45-minute tour by ASDM educational staff and then plenty of time on your own to wander and enjoy the critters, flora and displays. We will board the buses at 3 p.m. and head back to the Westin La Paloma to get ready for the Monday evening welcome reception.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and, while there are plenty of places to get a drink, it is a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle with you. Since the vast majority of the experience is outdoors, it is recommended to bring clothing layers and a hat to protect you from the Arizona sun, which is strong even in February. The average daily high will be in the high 60s or low 70s with lows in the mid-40s F. Binoculars and a camera can be good choices to have on hand as well.


Monday February 21, 2022 7:00am - 4:00pm MST
Offsite: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

5:30pm MST

Opening Reception
Monday February 21, 2022 5:30pm - 7:00pm MST
TBA
 
Tuesday, February 22
 

8:30am MST

Plenary Session: Enhancing Relevancy and Engaging Support from a Broader Constituency: Insights from a Multistate Wildlife Viewing Survey - Sponsored by Missouri Department of Conservation
Wildlife viewing (intentionally observing, feeding, or photographing wildlife) is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities in the United States, with significant implications for the work of state fish and wildlife agencies, especially given stable or declining rates of participation in hunting and angling. Wildlife viewers support wildlife and habitat conservation financially, politically, and through participation in other conservation activities. However, viewers’ direct support of wildlife agencies is limited compared to their support of other conservation organizations, likely due in part to perceptions about agency roles and priorities. Research has shown that birders and other viewers also tend to have lower levels of trust in state and federal agencies relative to other entities and when compared to hunters and anglers. While important insights have emerged piecemeal from a number of surveys, agencies have lacked generalizable information about viewer behaviors, perceptions, needs, and preferences in relation to state wildlife agencies. This information is essential for agencies to be more inclusive of, and relevant to, wildlife viewers; fulfill their missions; and advance fish and wildlife conservation.

Through a project supported by a 2021 Multistate Conservation Grant, researchers at Virginia Tech collaborated with the AFWA Wildlife Viewing and Nature Tourism Working Group to fill this knowledge gap with a social science study on how wildlife viewers can better support and be supported by wildlife agencies. The project included a review of existing research on wildlife viewers; implementation of a national online survey, with sampling among wildlife viewers in each of the four AFWA regions; and analysis at national and regional scales. This plenary presentation will share survey findings on wildlife viewers’: 1) recreation behaviors, including social support for and barriers to wildlife viewing, use of public lands, and viewing-related expenditures; 2) conservation behaviors, including both past involvement in conservation activities and likelihood to participate in these activities with agencies; and 3) relationships with agencies, including familiarity with, trust in, and perceptions of state agencies; experiences with agency programs and services; and preferred forms of viewing support and communications from agencies. The plenary will also share recommendations for using survey insights to inform engagement with wildlife viewers.

Speakers
avatar for Willa Chaves

Willa Chaves

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Willandia Chaves is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She is also Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center and the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens. Her research includes urbanization... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Ashley Dayer

Dr. Ashley Dayer

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Dr. Ashley Dayer is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center. Her conservation social science research focuses on conservation behavior of wildlife recreationists... Read More →
avatar for Kelsey Jennings

Kelsey Jennings

Master's Student, Virginia Tech
Kelsey Jennings is a master’s student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Their research interests encompass the human dimensions of wildlife viewers and focus on how historically underrepresented groups engage... Read More →
avatar for Shelly Plante

Shelly Plante

Nature Tourism Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Shelly Plante is the Nature Tourism Manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, working in the Marketing Group. She believes community-based conservation, education and partnerships are critical to the future of our natural resources, and works throughout Texas to connect people... Read More →
avatar for Emily Sinkular

Emily Sinkular

Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia Tech
Emily Sinkular joined the Dayer Human Lab in the Spring of 2021 as a Master’s Student in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her research in the Dayer Lab focuses on a multi-state study of wildlife viewers.Emily spent much of her childhood in Germany, where she finished high school... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 8:30am - 10:00am MST
TBA

10:00am MST

Break
Tuesday February 22, 2022 10:00am - 10:30am MST
TBA

10:30am MST

General Session: A Deep Dive into the Multistate Wildlife Viewer Survey
The Tuesday morning plenary presentation will be followed by three half-hour sessions that dive deeper into survey findings on issues that are particularly timely for wildlife agencies. Potential topics based on the final survey questions include:
  1. looking more closely at wildlife viewers’ current financial contributions to agencies and suggested strategies for engaging viewers through various funding mechanisms; 
  2. an analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on viewing behaviors with consideration of the applicability of the R3 (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate) framework to wildlife viewers and prospects for retaining new participants post-pandemic; and 
  3. a focus on diversity and inclusion in wildlife viewing, with attention to differences in support for and barriers to viewing among underrepresented groups. 
Collectively, the plenary and following sessions will offer participants insight into the experiences of wildlife viewers and guidance on using this information to develop approaches for more meaningful and substantive engagement with this constituency across AFWA regions.

Speakers
avatar for Willa Chaves

Willa Chaves

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Willandia Chaves is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She is also Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center and the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens. Her research includes urbanization... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Ashley Dayer

Dr. Ashley Dayer

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Dr. Ashley Dayer is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center. Her conservation social science research focuses on conservation behavior of wildlife recreationists... Read More →
avatar for Kelsey Jennings

Kelsey Jennings

Master's Student, Virginia Tech
Kelsey Jennings is a master’s student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Their research interests encompass the human dimensions of wildlife viewers and focus on how historically underrepresented groups engage... Read More →
avatar for Emily Sinkular

Emily Sinkular

Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia Tech
Emily Sinkular joined the Dayer Human Lab in the Spring of 2021 as a Master’s Student in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Her research in the Dayer Lab focuses on a multi-state study of wildlife viewers.Emily spent much of her childhood in Germany, where she finished high school... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 10:30am - 12:00pm MST
TBA

12:00pm MST

Lunch
Tuesday February 22, 2022 12:00pm - 1:30pm MST
TBA

1:30pm MST

Track 1: Butcherbirds in the Ballfield! Monitoring Urban Loggerhead Shrike Nests Through Community Science
Recent research suggests North America has lost 3 billion birds since 1970, with some of the steepest declines occurring in grassland birds. These include species such as the Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). The Loggerhead Shrike is a predatory songbird that has declined 76% across its range and is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Texas, which hosts 6% of North America’s breeding shrikes and 22% of wintering shrikes. Currently, we understand little about what is driving shrike declines, and a coordinated effort is needed to evaluate nesting and productivity in order to allow comparisons across studies. In Central Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture have partnered to study a population of resident shrikes that breed in Old Settlers Park, which is a public park in Round Rock, TX, that is subject to intensive recreational use year-round. This location is not only ideal for collecting valuable information about productivity, but also presents an opportunity to involve community scientists and develop a monitoring program that can be integrated into larger-scale, coordinated research and monitoring. We will introduce the Urban Loggerhead Shrike Nest Monitoring Project, a community science project that engages local volunteers in protocol-driven nest monitoring via Esri’s Survey123 and Field Maps data collection apps.  We will share lessons learned from the development of this project, its protocol, and survey form and outcomes from the pilot season that may be useful to other coordinated efforts to involve community scientists in data collection for priority species.

Speakers
avatar for Craig Hensley

Craig Hensley

Texas Parks and Wildlife
Craig Hensley is a Texas Nature Trackers Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Through Texas Nature Trackers, he engages naturalists of all interests and ability levels in collecting community science and crowd-sources data on Texas’ unique flora and fauna with... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Tania Homayoun

Dr. Tania Homayoun

Texas Parks and Wildlife
Dr. Tania Homayoun is a Texas Nature Tracker Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Through Texas Nature Trackers, she engages naturalists of all interests and ability levels in collecting community science and crowd-sourced data on Texas’ unique flora and fauna with a particular... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 1:30pm - 2:15pm MST
Room 1

1:30pm MST

Track 2: Collecting Human Dimensions Data to Inform Engagement Approaches: Hope is Not a Strategy
In Minnesota, we have a strong tradition of support for wildlife and nature conservation.  Financial support is evident through voluntary donations on state tax forms, purchase of Critical Habitat License Plates, and individual donations.  Additional support is evident through advocacy, volunteerism, and growing participation in community science.  

While support continues to be strong, we want to grow our program on more than hope and crossed fingers! Therefore, we significantly invested in collection of human dimensions data for active supporters and those who seem like they should be supporting us but are not. With this project, we are learning how to sustain and grow strong financial support for protecting biodiversity and, equally important, how to encourage people to care about our work. Through this research, we are learning how to adapt our approaches to wildlife conservation now and into the future.

In partnership with Virginia Tech, we initiated a three-part human dimensions research project.

Part I of this project is the Wildlife Viewer Survey supported by AFWA and taking place at a national and regional scale. We expanded on objectives in this portion of the study with Part II. Here we take a closer look at Minnesotans who currently support the Nongame Wildlife Program and those who do not. Why aren’t they on-board and what would it take to win them over? Based on these results messaging will be developed and tested with a mixed-methods study. Part III of this research advances our understanding of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Minnesota who are wildlife and/or nature enthusiasts. Our vision is that Minnesota outdoors and wildlife enjoyment is available for all people. Part III objectives are to better understand BIPOC behaviors and interests, current engagement, awareness, attitudes, trust of the agency, and barriers. Primary methods are web-based interviews and/or focus groups.

While results of the three-part study are pending, we have already made adjustments to how we work and how we communicate. Changes are taking place within the agency, with conservation partners, and with the public we serve. Participants in the session will gain insight on the value of investing in human dimensions studies and application of this data by a state fish & wildlife agency.

Speakers
avatar for Kelsey Jennings

Kelsey Jennings

Master's Student, Virginia Tech
Kelsey Jennings is a master’s student in the Dayer Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Their research interests encompass the human dimensions of wildlife viewers and focus on how historically underrepresented groups engage... Read More →
avatar for Cynthia Osmundson

Cynthia Osmundson

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Cynthia Osmundson is leader of the Nongame Wildlife Program at the Minnesota DNR for the past three years, I work with fascinating wildlife and awesome people. And I get to make a difference by helping protect our state’s biological diversity so people can continue to enjoy wildlife... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 1:30pm - 2:15pm MST
Room 2

2:15pm MST

Track 1: Meeting Multifaceted Objectives with Bioblitzes on Public Lands
It is not uncommon for bioblitzes to take place on public lands, but has the power of these events been fully realized? In Nebraska, our state lands are either diamonds or diamonds in the rough with varying levels of staff, resources, and wildlife viewing opportunities. This presentation will take participants through the steps of harnessing the power of bioblitzes on public lands to meet the multifaceted needs of their agency. In Nebraska, bioblitz events are being used to: 1) engage diverse audiences in community science-based wildlife viewing; and 2) collect data that is often under-captured, thus better informing the state agency on both the biodiversity of state lands and what opportunities exist for increased wildlife viewing on these lands. We will also explore the creation of resources that allows for the facilitation of bioblitz events across the state and how these resources can be utilized in other wildlife viewing and education initiatives.

Speakers
avatar for Alie Mayes

Alie Mayes

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Alie Mayes (She/Her/Hers) is the Community Science Education Specialist for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. She holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.A.T in Biological Sciences. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her partner and pets.


Tuesday February 22, 2022 2:15pm - 3:00pm MST
Room 1

2:15pm MST

Track 2: Cultivating New Supporters: How the VA DNR is Engaging Non-traditional Audiences with their Restore the Wild Membership Program
Virginia’s Restore the Wild membership program is an innovative funding mechanism that seeks to broaden support for the Department of Wildlife Resources by targeting, and building relationships with, wildlife viewers and outdoor enthusiasts through its relevant call-to-action, branding, and engagement efforts. Virginia will share the details of their Restore the Wild membership program, its success after nearly three years, and some of the innovative ways they have been working to engage new audiences. Participants in this presentation will learn whether this new funding mechanism could be useful for their agency’s efforts to engage non-consumptive audiences and about some potential new audiences and unique engagement strategies.

Speakers
avatar for Jessica Ruthenberg

Jessica Ruthenberg

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Jessica Ruthenberg  has worked as the Watchable Wildlife Biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for over five years. She also serves on the Board of the Virginia Society of Ornithology and as a Chapter Advisor for her local chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists... Read More →
avatar for Brian Moyer

Brian Moyer

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Brian Moyer currently serves as the Assistant Director of Outreach with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Prior to this position he served as the Recreation Program Manager where he was responsible for managing Virginia’s watchable wildlife program, public access... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 2:15pm - 3:00pm MST
Room 2

3:00pm MST

Break
Tuesday February 22, 2022 3:00pm - 3:30pm MST
TBA

3:30pm MST

3:30pm MST

Track 2: Birds and Manatees Need Privacy Too: Balancing the Needs of Wildlife Viewers with Sensitive Wildlife Species
Coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Deniz Aygen

Deniz Aygen

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Deniz Aygen grew up playing outside in the woods, lakes, and streams in Michigan and attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree. She got bit by the travel bug early in life and after college used her biological training to work around the world and in the US on... Read More →
avatar for Meagan Thomas

Meagan Thomas

Meagan Thomas is a Watchable Wildlife Biologist for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) where she works to develop and implement a wide variety of wildlife viewing opportunities across the state. Some of her favorite elements of her job include coordination of DWR’s... Read More →
avatar for Michelle Pasawicz

Michelle Pasawicz

Michelle Pasawicz is the Manatee Rules Coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Much of her work involves establishing regulatory protections, engaging stakeholders, community outreach, and data analyses primarily focused on the conservation of... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 3:30pm - 4:30pm MST
Room 2

4:30pm MST

Track 1: What Birders Want: Using Wildlife Viewer Survey Data to Breath New Life Into a Birding Trail
The wildlife viewing staff at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, working with Responsive Management, have recently completed two surveys of birders and wildlife viewers to get a better understanding of their attitudes and behavior. We asked participants what they look for in a possible destination and where they get the information they need to make travel decisions. We also asked participants about their knowledge of, and satisfaction with, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Equipped with this new information, we have been able to propose new projects and strategies. We can better prioritize our goals as a wildlife viewing program, tailored to our constituent’s needs. In this presentation, we will describe several case studies of how we have directly applied the data from the surveys to improve the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. We hope that our findings and the ways we have applied them can be extrapolated to other wildlife viewing programs across North America.

Speakers
avatar for Liz Schold

Liz Schold

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail Coordinator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Liz Schold is the coordinator of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail with FWC, where she promotes and facilitates birding and wildlife viewing activities and education across the state. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in evolutionary biology from Harvard University and... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 4:30pm - 5:00pm MST
Room 1

4:30pm MST

Track 2: Get More Done: Using a Self-Managed Volunteer Organization to Leverage Staff
At the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale, Arizona, fewer than 10 full-time professional staff guide and support more than 700 active volunteers (called stewards). The stewards collectively provide more than 65,000 hours of service each year in support of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the largest urban preserve in the country, and other regional open space. Through training and involvement, these volunteers become conservation ambassadors, working to educate and engage others in exploring and protecting nature.

The reason this model works, with so few staff and so many volunteers, is that the steward organization, with staff support, is largely self-managed and has developed its own formal structure, befitting its size and scope. There are function-level and overall organization charts with defined leadership positions, job descriptions, succession processes, formal training, etc. Furthermore, within the overall context of the Conservancy’s mission and strategic plan and the needs of the Preserve, the steward organization largely has defined its own evolution. The organization’s structure and programs have been changed, usually at the initiative of the volunteers themselves, as the environment, needs, and mission have evolved.

The Conservancy was formed in 1991. The first steward training class based on this model was held in 1996 due to a combination of some visionary volunteers with strong management, science, and educational backgrounds, plus the willingness of the staff and board to allow these volunteer leaders to experiment. The model continues because it has been enormously successful and enjoys ongoing support from Conservancy staff, the board, and the Preserve’s land owner, which is the City of Scottsdale. 

We believe that this model can be replicated elsewhere, allowing other non-profits and open space land managers to significantly leverage staff resources and get more done at modest additional cost. The presentation will review all the elements of this successful model; provide examples of steward program structures, processes, and activities; and indicate how to obtain relevant material and further information.

Speakers
avatar for Rick Pearce

Rick Pearce

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
Rick Pearce has led research, engineering, intellectual property management, and licensing efforts across the globe. As corporate VP, he managed research centers in four countries, dedicated to materials science advancements for the automotive, railway, aerospace, and defense industries... Read More →
avatar for Dan Gruber

Dan Gruber

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
Dan Gruber was a principal and senior partner at Deloitte Consulting. His work included organization performance improvement and turnaround as well as strategic, business, and financial planning. Mr. Gruber worked in a number of industries – retail, manufacturing, health care, cultural... Read More →


Tuesday February 22, 2022 4:30pm - 5:00pm MST
Room 2
 
Wednesday, February 23
 

8:30am MST

Track 1: Wildlife Observation for All Mobility Abilities
While conducting research for my book, Parking Lot Birding: A Fun Guide to Discovering Birds in Texas, I began to understand how limiting wildlife observation can be for people with limited mobility. Around the same time, I started working on a project called “Preventing Obesity by Design” for children. The project took me deep into methods for designing spaces for children that facilitate more active play. One element of such designs was pathways that took children to the points of interest that they wanted to see, but in a way that wheeled toys could get them there. These simple design tweaks were an ah-ha moment for me in how design can either inhibit or enrich mobility. 
After visiting over 300 parks and nature centers, I have seen the best in design elements and the worst. My travels also helped me understand the funding available to facilitate accessible trails, wildlife viewing stations, and points of interest to allow for enriching experiences in nature for all. This is an exciting growth area for parks and nature centers. 
This session will cover some of the best practices in active play design and how to actualize the funding needed to achieve those goals. Participants will understand what it takes to design spaces that are inviting, fundable, and fun. 

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Bristol

Jennifer Bristol

Author
Jennifer L. Bristol is the author of Parking Lot Birding: A Fun Guide to Discovering Birds in Texas and has contributed articles about nature exploration to Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine and the Children & Nature Network. Her current writing projects with Texas A&M University... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 8:30am - 9:00am MST
Room 1

8:30am MST

Track 2: How to Get Your Groove Back and Stay Inspired When Life is Still Dragging You Down
It’s been a rollercoaster year—filled with so many ups and downs—as we’ve navigated the choppy and uncertain waters of a pandemic. Being in survival mode has certainly brought more stress and struggle, including sometimes snuffing out our energy and passion for work. How do we get our groove back and stay inspired when life is still dragging us down?

Join us for a fun and lighthearted presentation (but also meaningful, we hope!) on finding your joy and inspiration again. This session applies to those with an empty tank as well as those still firing on all cylinders—the learning, including learning from each other, will all be the same, including:
  • How to rekindle the passion for your work, especially after a hard season of change and disconnection, and regain the spark and joy in living out your mission
  • Strategies to refocus your day and take back your calendar (that are often hijacked by meetings and other people) 
  • Tip and tricks to get your mojo back, including where to find inspiration, mentoring, team synergy, and maybe even a daily dose of laughter at work

We also hope to crowdsource ideas from participants (either before the presentation or during the session) on how they are staying inspired during tough times to share with the group. Even though joy is an inside job, new ideas are a sweet salve to the soul and may be just the spark we need. 

Speakers
avatar for Heather Feeler

Heather Feeler

Missouri Department of Conservation
Heather Feeler, communications branch chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation, spends her professional time chasing interesting conservation stories and connecting people with nature. Her team is responsible for statewide news, social media, video, marketing, magazines... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 8:30am - 9:00am MST
Room 2

9:00am MST

Track 1: All For Play and Play For All!
Coming soon!

Speakers
TC

Tiara Chapman

Nature Programs Coordinator, Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area


Wednesday February 23, 2022 9:00am - 9:30am MST
Room 1

9:00am MST

Track 2: Florida WildQuest: A Statewide App-based Scavenger Hunt
It was summer of 2020 amid the pandemic, FWC’s Public Access and Services Office staff searched for a way to conduct a statewide event promoting our Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). The goal of the program would be to get individuals and families out on our WMA system, but we could not stage in-person events or activities.  We knew we needed something new and safe, where the interaction was not in person but virtual taking place on the WMA. We wanted to reach people outside of our traditional user base of white, middle-aged people. We specifically wanted new people, families with children, Millennials, and minorities to visit our WMAs. After floating many ideas of events or contests using social media platforms, we found GooseChase, an App-based scavenger hunt platform. We secured a license from Goosechase and Florida WildQuest was born! A 9-day event held in May 2021. This presentation will cover our project from start to finish, including securing the GooseChase license, identifying targeted WMAs, developing the scavenger hunt missions and marketing the program. In addition, we will review the results of the embedded survey.

Speakers
avatar for Travis Blunden

Travis Blunden

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Travis Blunden is the coordinator for Wings Over Florida.  While new to this position he is not new to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), he worked in the land management section for 11 years, first as a biologist and then as the Northeast Region’s Conservation... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 9:00am - 9:30am MST
Room 2

9:30am MST

Track 1: Sheltered English Instruction: Tips and Tricks
We are so lucky to be able to share the wonders of wildlife with audiences and students from all walks of life. This means our participants may be joining our programs, which are usually given in English, while they are still trying to learn the language. Luckily, there are easy to implement techniques that not only make your programming better for English language learners, but for everyone involved!
In this 30-minute presentation, we’ll cover what sheltered English instruction is and how to present information better to participants and students for whom English is not their first language. We’ll offer up a dedicated list of tips and tricks that can be very easily implemented into everyday instruction and some real-world examples of how these techniques have been successful in the past. Join us to learn more or to share your experience!

Speakers
avatar for Julie Bless

Julie Bless

Nevada Department of Wildlife
Julie Bless is the Statewide Wildlife Education Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Much of her work involves working with the department’s regional educators to create quality education programming that brings wildlife to classrooms. Julie... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 9:30am - 10:00am MST
Room 1

9:30am MST

Track 2: Live Streaming Video: The Iceberg Below the Surface
One of the primary objectives at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is to connect visitors at the site to the landscape. In addition to the natural beauty at the location, the Visitor Center also operates numerous year-round and seasonal live cams. This is one of the ways the center meets the digital outreach strategy of the agency and takes advantage of the fact that people have a natural and emotional connection with fish and wildlife.
Anytime a unique perspective can be shown, interest in a subject grows. On top of that, the demand for high definition is also increasing, whether on-site or through mobile technology. Furthermore, live images are the key ingredient. These generate so much more interest than pre-recorded footage. Providing these images, however, can be a real logistical challenge. Every subject of interest and location has its unique challenges. Do you have something interesting that people want to see? Can you physically access the subject of interest? Is power available? How do you get the live video to a venue to share it? How much technology is involved? All good questions that must be addressed for your live cam to succeed.
This presentation will run through the variety of cameras we use at the Mendenhall. This includes a seasonal underwater camera and Arctic tern nesting camera, and a year-round glacier landscape camera and infrared beaver lodge camera. Discussion will focus on the unique criteria for each style of camera, the use of fiber optical cabling, encoding options used to share the images online, streaming platforms to consider, maintenance demands, and the costs involved to pull it all off.
Live streaming creates an opportunity to engage with a worldwide audience by making the experience more personal and more meaningful. Making this connection is so important and is why the public cares. In addition, a growing number of people are becoming increasingly disconnected to what is happening on our public lands. Engaging them with something as unique as watching salmon swim upstream or as simple as lake water lapping at a glacier reminds them what is out there, what is still taking place somewhere, and that people are still working to preserve and make available these natural events for the public today and into the future.

Speakers
avatar for Pete Schneider

Pete Schneider

U.S. Forest Service, Mendenhall Glacier
 Pete Schneider attended college in Idaho (Go Vandals!) and earned a degree in zoology. While in school I worked in a trout and salmon research laboratory when a professor suggested I get some outdoor experience. I looked into this and came across an opportunity to work in Metaline... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 9:30am - 10:00am MST
Room 2

10:00am MST

Break
Wednesday February 23, 2022 10:00am - 10:30am MST
TBA

10:30am MST

Track 1: The YAYA View of Conservation & Creative Campaigns to Help Connect the Dots
Youth and young adults (YAYAs) in this country have a strong market impact and are shaping our conservation future, including how they connect with the outdoors. Research shows the YAYAs care deeply about environmental issues and, at the same time, are also stressed and burned out. Whether they know it or not, nature is a healing place, so how can we connect the dots and make nature needed in their lives? We asked the YAYAs to help us answer this question.

We engaged the top journalism students at a university, who provide premier, student-staffed, advertising services to national clients such as Ocean Spray and Chevrolet, to help us develop a conservation relevancy campaign focused on 18- to 24-year-olds. This presentation will share what we learned, including:
  • Gaining a better understanding of the YAYA audience, including research on motivations and preferences for engaging with the outdoors;
  • Seeing several different creative campaigns designed directly by YAYAs to connect them to the outdoors and have conservation be more relevant;
  • Learning how one state fish, forest, and wildlife agency is working to connect the dots with YAYAs through a YAYA marketing campaign

Time allowing, participants will also have a chance to ask questions and share their own best practices for reaching YAYAs.

Speakers
avatar for Heather Feeler

Heather Feeler

Missouri Department of Conservation
Heather Feeler, communications branch chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation, spends her professional time chasing interesting conservation stories and connecting people with nature. Her team is responsible for statewide news, social media, video, marketing, magazines... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 10:30am - 11:15am MST
Room 1

10:30am MST

Track 2: Keeping Interpretation Personal While Going Virtual
Coming soon!

Wednesday February 23, 2022 10:30am - 11:15am MST
Room 2

11:15am MST

Track 1: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Bat Walks: How We Re-Imagined Our Outreach Program
Like many organizations,Bat Conservation International is working hard to incorporate the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (hereafter known as JEDI) more deliberately and thoughtfully into our programming. The Bat Walks Program began in 2019 as a novel and exciting way to provide in-person bat experiences to everyone.  Although the program is successful, we realize that,during our initial planning, we built the program on existing zoo and nature center partnerships and did not take deliberate steps to offer inclusive programming to BIPOC communities. To correct this oversight, we are rethinking the program through a JEDI lens. With the help of an outside JEDI consultant and by using The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, we are exploring ways to enhance our Bat Walks Program in the Summer and Fall of 2021. We will share our successes, missteps, and lessons learned along the way. We hope that by offering an inside look at our process we can provide a framework for other outreach programs looking to incorporate JEDI standards.  

Speakers
avatar for Erin Cord

Erin Cord

Bat Conservation International
Erin Cord joined the BCI staff in 2019 and is thrilled to be coordinating BCI’s new Bat Walk Program. Erin double majored in Wildlife Conservation and Entomology from the University of Delaware and received her MS in Wildlife Ecology from the Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 11:15am - 12:00pm MST
Room 1

11:15am MST

Track 2: Seven Simple Actions: Calling Birdwatchers to Conservation Action
North American bird populations have declined by about 29% since 1970 (Rosenberg et al. 2019) according to a landmark article in the journal Science published in 2019. This news has rocked the ornithological world and the general public. This science article generated over 1400 news articles on the topic. Why? Because people love birds. With the release of the Science article, a partner website developed by a team led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology was launched - 3billionbirds.org. This site outlines 7 Simple Actions to help slow bird declines. These hopeful calls to action can make real change if the general public understands the ramifications of the bird declines and we help educate them on the value of birds, but also if they have the tools and suggestions to act. Join me in educating our engaged wildlife-watching public to spring into hopeful action in making some relatively simple and inexpensive changes for birds. There are things we can all do today at some scale to help birds and other wildlife! 

Speakers
avatar for Sarah Kendrick

Sarah Kendrick

Missouri Department of Conservation
Sarah Kendrick is the State Ornithologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Sarah worked with state conservation partners to build and oversee the Missouri Bird Conservation Plan, which acts as a reference to public and private land managers to promote bird habitat management... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 11:15am - 12:00pm MST
Room 2

12:00pm MST

Lunch
Wednesday February 23, 2022 12:00pm - 1:30pm MST
TBA

1:30pm MST

Track 1: Bird's the Word: How Birding and Ecotourism can Drive Visitation with Data to Prove It!
Coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Christina Lokey

Christina Lokey

Christina Lokey graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelors in business management and finished a culinary diploma at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Currently, she manages the Beaumont CVB marketing team and is in charge of strengthening the local hospitality industry... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 1:30pm - 2:15pm MST
Room 1

1:30pm MST

Track 2: Encouraging a Diverse Participant Base in a Fledgling Community Science Program
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program has a long history of engaging with wildlife enthusiasts across the state. We recently launched a Community Science Program through which we intend to cultivate increased community engagement, but our current program offerings and recruitment strategies do not necessarily reflect the changing demographics and cultural richness of our communities. This session is intended to describe our efforts thus far and serve as an open forum for discussion about how new programs can be effective catalysts for institutional change.

Speakers
avatar for Mags Edwards

Mags Edwards

Community Science Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Mags Edwards (they / them) is the Community Science Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Wildlife Program. Although the DNR has hosted various community science projects in the past, Nongame’s dedicated Community Science Program is relatively... Read More →
avatar for Elizabeth Nault-Maurer

Elizabeth Nault-Maurer

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Elizabeth Nault-Maurer has been with the Nongame Wildlife Program since 2020. In her position as an Information Officer, Elizabeth promotes the work of the program on social media and on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website. She is also a Minnesota Master Naturalist... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 1:30pm - 2:15pm MST
Room 2

2:15pm MST

Track 1: How Deltona Became Eco-Friendly and You Can Too!
Join the city of Deltona for a thirty minute documentary that expresses Deltona’s story through human insight and the economics of nature tourism. This story will evaluate Deltona’s success and demonstrate Deltona’s solutions for developing ecological and economic development in smaller communities. The audience will be able to see how a community can identify its own unique ecological strengths, how these strengths can be honed and marketed for the community and tourists, and how to find financial resources for these projects. The documentary will include interviews with residents and staff that paint a picture of the past, present, and future of Deltona’s Nature Parks. Deltona’s Staff will express what has and hasn’t worked while examining any pitfalls that may occur when developing a city-wide ecotourism infrastructure.
One of Deltona’s unique features is that it is home to a variety of trail systems. Working with multiple partners, the trail system connects residents, neighboring communities, and tourists by giving them the opportunity to explore nature together. By engaging with individuals associated with the trail system, ecological parks, and Blueways Trails, we will visually demonstrate how focusing on features that we have helps us connect to Florida as a whole and how this brings our residents together to explore.

Speakers
avatar for Lee Lopez

Lee Lopez

The City of Deltona
Lee Lopez has utilized his 30 years of experience in the video industry to highlight Deltona’s growing presence as an eco-tourism destination. His work ensures Deltona’s natural beauty garners recognition locally, regionally and nationally. Lopez enjoys the Florida outdoors and... Read More →
avatar for Jerry Mayes

Jerry Mayes

The City of Deltona
Jerry Mayes passion is making Deltona an EcoTourism destination I vision Lakeshore EcoVillage  a key component in Deltona’s economic future, along with the Butler Chain of Lakes Blueways Trail and Deltona's eight existing EcoParks (with 2 in development and 3 in planning). Deltona... Read More →
avatar for Ryan Reckley

Ryan Reckley

The City of Deltona
Ryan Reckley brings over 20 years of parks and recreation experience to the department director position for the City of Deltona. He uses innovation to create unique programming and activity in our city and has been working towards creative opportunities in sports and recreation... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 2:15pm - 3:00pm MST
Room 1

2:15pm MST

Track 2: Implementing a State Wildlife Viewing Plan: Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Virginia’s Restore the Wild membership program is an innovative funding mechanism that seeks to broaden support for the Department of Wildlife Resources by targeting and building relationships with wildlife viewers and outdoor enthusiasts through its relevant call-toaction, branding, and engagement efforts. Virginia will share the details of their Restore the Wild membership program, its success after nearly three years, and some of the innovative ways they have been working to engage new audiences. Participants to this presentation will learn whether this new funding mechanism could be useful for their agency’s efforts to engage non-consumptive audiences as well as some potential new audiences and unique engagement strategies.

Speakers
avatar for Dr. Ashley Dayer

Dr. Ashley Dayer

Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions, Virginia Tech
Dr. Ashley Dayer is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech and Affiliated Faculty with the Global Change Center. Her conservation social science research focuses on conservation behavior of wildlife recreationists... Read More →
avatar for Jessica Ruthenberg

Jessica Ruthenberg

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Jessica Ruthenberg  has worked as the Watchable Wildlife Biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for over five years. She also serves on the Board of the Virginia Society of Ornithology and as a Chapter Advisor for her local chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists... Read More →
avatar for Brian Moyer

Brian Moyer

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Brian Moyer currently serves as the Assistant Director of Outreach with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Prior to this position he served as the Recreation Program Manager where he was responsible for managing Virginia’s watchable wildlife program, public access... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 2:15pm - 3:00pm MST
Room 2

3:00pm MST

Break
Wednesday February 23, 2022 3:00pm - 3:30pm MST
TBA

3:30pm MST

Track 1: Hurricane Recovery of Nature-Based Tourism
On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane about 10 miles north of Port Aransas, Texas on San Jose Island. Port Aransas experienced heavy rainfall, 130 mph winds, and a storm surge of ~10 feet above sea level. The Port Aransas Nature Preserve totals 1,280 acres of saltmarsh, freshwater wetlands, tidal flats, and upland prairie habitats that include the Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture, Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond, and Wetland Park. Hurricane Harvey caused major damage to infrastructure, wildlife habitat, and other amenities at all sites. Four years later, the City is still working with FEMA to rebuild the major damages. 
Re-opening the parks and Nature Preserve sites was important so that residents, volunteers, and visitors could have a place to have some joy. However, as a community, there were larger priorities; at times staff were pulled to other projects and had to adapt to new roles. Immediately after Harvey, the unbelievable generosity and support of volunteers from all over the country helped the Nature Preserve clean-up, rebuild, and re-vegetate. The Nature Preserve Manager took on a huge role of searching for funding opportunities and writing proposals for grants for the Nature Preserve and other City departments. The unfortunate event stimulated new projects that were in the Master Plan for greater connectivity and expansion of the Nature Preserve sites and new amenities. It also provided an opportunity for new designs of infrastructure to increase resiliency by building smarter and stronger. Support came from various entities for tree giveaways and plantings for public and private property. Partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies; non-profits; and universities were very important and were strengthened by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  
This presentation will focus on the strategies used to clean-up, rebuild, and restore habitats following a major natural disaster. Preparation for disasters, damage assessments, community needs, and recovery will also be discussed. The takeaway is to be creative and to not be afraid to reach out to everyone you know because, chances are, they want to and can help.

Speakers
avatar for Rae Mooney

Rae Mooney

City of Port Aransas
Rae Mooney is the City of Port Aransas Nature Preserve Manager.  Rae was hired in 2019 and has continued many of the grants and projects Colleen began following Hurricane Harvey.  Rae is working on projects to expand the Nature Preserve and increase connectivity between sites.  Habitat... Read More →
avatar for Colleen Simpson

Colleen Simpson

City of Port Aransas
Colleen Simpson is the City of Port Aransas Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, which includes the Port Aransas Nature Preserve.  Colleen previously worked as the Nature Preserve Manager.  She began that role in 2016 and Hurricane Harvey hit Port Aransas in 2017.  In... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 3:30pm - 4:15pm MST
Room 1

3:30pm MST

Track 2: Virginia’s Restore the Wild membership program is an innovative funding mechanism that seeks to broaden support for the Department of Wildlife Resources by targeting and building relationships with wildlife viewers and outdoor enthusiasts through
Virginia’s Restore the Wild membership program is an innovative funding mechanism that seeks to broaden support for the Department of Wildlife Resources by targeting and building relationships with wildlife viewers and outdoor enthusiasts through its relevant call-toaction, branding, and engagement efforts. Virginia will share the details of their Restore the Wild membership program, its success after nearly three years, and some of the innovative ways they have been working to engage new audiences. Participants to this presentation will learn whether this new funding mechanism could be useful for their agency’s efforts to engage non-consumptive audiences as well as some potential new audiences and unique engagement strategies.

Speakers
TC

Tiara Chapman

Nature Programs Coordinator, Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area


Wednesday February 23, 2022 3:30pm - 4:15pm MST
Room 2

4:15pm MST

Ignite Sessions
Session 1:  Wildlife Battles for Education
Presenter:  Julie Bless, Nevada Department of Wildlife
Nevada’s wildlife has gone to battle, and teachers and students are loving it AND learning! Join for a quick overview of Nevada’s award-winning Nevada Knockout classroom program. This fun program operates like March Madness, but with Nevada’s wildlife. Students learn about wildlife found in Nevada, animal adaptations, and so much more!
Session 2:  Engagement in Wildlife Conservation and Recreation 
Presenters:  Heather Bokman and Johanna Dart, Ohio Division of Wildlife
Engaging and serving broader audiences in meaningful ways and working toward increased relevancy in society is a top priority for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Society’s Wildlife Value Orientations, or the ways that people think about and interact with wildlife, are changing. Additionally, there are shifts in motivations, ideologies, and lifestyles surrounding interactions with wildlife. This means the Division has needed to think critically engaging constituents in ways that resonate with them. Following the Association of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Relevancy Roadmap as a guide, the Division is investing time and resources in human dimensions research to learn more about perspectives and expectations of the public, as well as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work to understand historical barriers that marginalized groups face in the outdoors and wildlife recreation. As part of this work, the Division is building the Wild Ohio Harvest Community and planning strategies to expand wildlife conservation and stewardship as programs and lifestyle brands to connect and engage with a broader diversity of audiences. By having a range of relevant and convenient learning opportunities, the Division will be able to appeal to a diversity of audiences and become relevant to a larger portion of the state population. Having targeted, thoughtful, and inclusive communities for a variety of interactions with wildlife, as well as working closely with a diverse network of partners, will be essential to improving the agency’s relevancy across the state. The increased exposure to wildlife recreation opportunities for all will also benefit Ohio’s nature-based tourism. It is our hope that the audience leaves this presentation with an enlightened perspective of how state fish and wildlife conservation agencies can work creatively to break down systemic barriers that exist for so many in wildlife conservation, recreation, and tourism. We also hope to spur new thoughts and ideas for how other organizations might also begin the work to create more welcoming spaces through partnerships, experiences, and marketing. 


Session 3:  Guides, Tour Operators and Outfitters (GORP):  Online Training for Interpretive Staff and Contact Guides.
Presenter:  Miles Phillips, Oregon State University
Guides, Tour Operators and Outfitters, services are a key component of the tourism & outdoor recreation industry. This business provides a valuable contribution to the local economy, the environment, and community social wellbeing! In this presentation you will learn about GORP, a training program developed to help market guides as professionals and raise the value of guide services to the public. The program content is organized into four regions: Local, State, National, & Global. The content provides a broad range of knowledge and skills including identification of 101 local species of plants and animals, knowledge of local history, natural resource agencies, tourism organizations, and economic impact, group management, customer service, sustainability, marketing, personal interpretation skills, and more. Explore a new way of learning and training with the GORP Guide Program. This program supports any existing training and blends online knowledge courses with live skills training. The four core online courses are designed to allow easy customization to any location. The program was developed for and by guides in collaboration with University Extension faculty and tourism industry destination marketing and management organizations.

Speakers
avatar for Julie Bless

Julie Bless

Nevada Department of Wildlife
Julie Bless is the Statewide Wildlife Education Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Much of her work involves working with the department’s regional educators to create quality education programming that brings wildlife to classrooms. Julie... Read More →
avatar for Heather Bokman

Heather Bokman

Ohio Division of Wildlife
Heather Bokman (she/her) has a B.S. in Natural Resources/Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University (2006) and a M.S. in Marketing and Communications from Franklin University (2011). She began work with the Ohio Division of Wildlife as a college intern in 2005 and immediately... Read More →
avatar for Johanna Dart

Johanna Dart

Ohio Division of Wildlife
Johanna Dart (she/her) has a B.A. in Sociology from Albion College (2012) and an M.S.W. in Organizational and Community Leadership from Michigan State University (2015). While in graduate school, she accepted an internship that provided a class in natural resources. After this internship... Read More →
avatar for Miles Phillips

Miles Phillips

Oregon State University
Miles Phillips is recognized nationally for his work, serving as a member of the National Extension Tourism Design Team, and currently the Chair of the National Extension Tourism Network, and the 2019 Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Conference.Mr. Phillips developed and... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 4:15pm - 5:00pm MST
Room 2

4:15pm MST

Track 1: Bird City Texas: Boosting Community Conservation for Birds and People
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas embarked on a partnership for urban conservation more than five years ago, creating a new community certification program called Bird City Texas (BCT). Launching in Fall of 2019, with our first communities certified in January 2020, the goal of the program is to recognize and encourage effective, impactful native bird conservation where people live, work, and recreate. We know that birds, and many forms of wildlife, are facing tremendous challenges. We also know that every community, from large urban centers to small rural towns, can provide important, healthy habitat for birds. This presentation will discuss the importance of native bird conservation in Texas communities, from both the community engagement aspect as well as the ‘value-added’ aspects and how communities outside of Texas could consider launching a similar science-based program.

Speakers
avatar for Yvette Stewart

Yvette Stewart

Audubon Texas
Yvette Stewart has been with Audubon Texas since 2018 and currently leads two state-wide programs: Audubon’s Conservation Leaders for Young Women and Bird City Texas. Bird City Texas, a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas, launched in 2019 and... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 4:15pm - 5:00pm MST
Room 1

6:30pm MST

“Duel in the Desert” Wildlife Trivia
On Wednesday evening, join us for a wild night of trivia! Cheyenne Dubiach and Jeff Meyers, of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, will be hosting wildlife-themed trivia! Join in on the fun and challenge your knowledge of North American fauna. Questions will be about critters from all over the continent, so we encourage you to team up with folks from different regions for a competitive advantage! Don’t miss this opportunity to meet and mingle with new people and compete for the glory of winning bragging rights and the grand prize. Additional $20.00 charge, at the door, for pizza, salad, and dessert. Adult beverages will be available for purchase at the hotel bar. Team Sign-up will be at/near the registration table. 

Speakers
avatar for Jeff Meyers

Jeff Meyers

Arizona Game and Fish Department
Jeff Meyers grew up in western Massachusetts but has been a resident of Arizona for more than 25 years, where he attended Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively. It was during his undergraduate work studying... Read More →
avatar for Cheyenne Dubiach

Cheyenne Dubiach

Arizona Game and Fish Department
Cheyenne Dubiach is an Arizona native, who grew up in Phoenix. For college, Cheyenne attended Northern Arizona University where she earned a B.S. in Forestry and a minor in Wildlife Biology. While attending college she was selected as an intern for the Arizona Game and Fish Department... Read More →


Wednesday February 23, 2022 6:30pm - 8:00pm MST
TBA
 
Thursday, February 24
 

8:30am MST

Track 1: Mega Birding Trail Symposium
This is THE practical session on Birding and Wildlife Trails for those interested in starting a statewide trail or updating their existing birding trail! Come learn from four state agency staff and Audubon Alaska on their Birding/Birding and Wildlife Trails to gain practical knowledge to implement or improve your state’s Trail and engage more of your public in wildlife viewing. Each presenter will provide perspective on a different aspect of Trail development, maintenance, or keeping it fresh with 2.0 updates. Five, 15-min presentations will be followed by a 15-min interactive Q&A where any question can be asked of presenters or others with different experiences in our audience. A 30-min break will follow this session, so additional questions are encouraged during that time. We are here to learn and help.
Presentations include:
  • To Print or Not to Print: Maps or Apps? – Liz Schold, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Birding Trail on a Shoestring Budget – Sarah Kendrick, Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Using Community Science to Keep Trails Fresh – Deniz Aygen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • The Southeast Alaska Birding Trail: A Tale of Partnerships and Collaborations – Rebecca Sentner and Natalie Dawson, Audubon Alaska
  • Trail Building: Experiences from a State in the Thick of Development – Mike Rader, Kansas Dept of Wildlife and Parks

Speakers
avatar for Deniz Aygen

Deniz Aygen

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Deniz Aygen grew up playing outside in the woods, lakes, and streams in Michigan and attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree. She got bit by the travel bug early in life and after college used her biological training to work around the world and in the US on... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Natalie Dawson

Dr. Natalie Dawson

Audubon Alaska
Dr. Natalie Dawson has over fifteen years of experience in science, education, public policy, communication, and outreach within Alaska and across the western United States and is the Vice President and Executive Director for National Audubon’s Alaska office.  Before joining Audubon... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Kendrick

Sarah Kendrick

Missouri Department of Conservation
Sarah Kendrick is the State Ornithologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Sarah worked with state conservation partners to build and oversee the Missouri Bird Conservation Plan, which acts as a reference to public and private land managers to promote bird habitat management... Read More →
avatar for Mike Rader

Mike Rader

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Mike Radar has a bachelor’s degree in Park Resources Management from Kansas State University and started his full-time career with the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife & Parks in 1989 at Wilson State Park. Mike was hired as the Wildlife Education Supervisor in 2007, working at the KDWP... Read More →
avatar for Liz Schold

Liz Schold

Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail Coordinator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Liz Schold is the coordinator of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail with FWC, where she promotes and facilitates birding and wildlife viewing activities and education across the state. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in evolutionary biology from Harvard University and... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca Sentner

Rebecca Sentner

Audubon Alaska
Rebecca Sentner is the senior communications manager for both Audubon Alaska and the National Audubon public lands program, where she develops the communication strategy and tactics to support the conservation goals within Alaska, as well as supporting conservation work for public... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 8:30am - 10:00am MST
Room 1

8:30am MST

Track 2: Collaboration for Conservation: Achieving More for Less in Nature Protection and Community Engagement through Friends and Partners in Canada
Canada’s Federal Protected Areas Program of National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries is not as rich as we make it look. We have a large territory and more than 150 sites to manage across the country and a relatively small workforce and annual budget to do it with. We have to approach many of our operational challenges and the implementation of our visitor engagement plans with creative solutions to stretch our dollars and still create meaningful impacts, both for the communities we invite in and the wildlife we protect on their behalf. Through necessity, the Protected Areas Program of Environment and Climate Change Canada has come to rely on collaboration with external partners and “friends” in the community to help us in our work and to facilitate public visitation and nature interpretation.

In this presentation, we will share several examples of how we have partnered in recent years with others on specific projects—some strange, some unique, some amazingly productive, and some even musical (!)—to achieve our goals with limited investment on our part. Through these examples, we hope to demonstrate how much more impact a program can have when the local community
participates in its delivery. By sharing program ownership, we can share the benefits too, a factor that only improves program sustainability in the long run. This presentation will also demonstrate how your parks or protected areas can amplify the efforts of your local communities and work equitably with partners without losing sight of your conservation mandate.

Speakers
S

Staff

Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Thursday February 24, 2022 8:30am - 10:00am MST
Room 2

10:00am MST

Break
Thursday February 24, 2022 10:00am - 10:30am MST
TBA

10:30am MST

Track 1: The Power of Citizen Science: Creating a Unique Force of Volunteers to Conduct Important Research
Are you struggling with limited resources to complete scientific projects in your organization? Are you frustrated that more important and beneficial work could be completed if you had the resources? By the end of this session, participants will understand how to engage citizen scientists at multiple levels to both leverage staff resources and to empower volunteers as scientists, educators, and advocates. 

Citizen science is an important way to connect people to nature while also leveraging limited resources, such as staff. Typically, volunteers in most organizations engage in only certain aspects of projects, such as fieldwork. Through its Citizen Science Program, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale, Arizona, has developed ways to broaden the impact of volunteers, benefiting both the organization and the volunteers. Citizen Scientists have the opportunity to engage in projects from beginning to end, from project inception through experimental design, data collection, analyses and mapping, and communicating results. 

Because of the strong engagement of citizen scientists, the Conservancy is able to work on more than 15 scientific projects concurrently. Our work focuses on protecting flora and fauna, maintaining habitat connectivity, and determining cost-effective management practices that can be used throughout the Sonoran Desert. By participating in this diversity of projects, Citizen Scientists steadily increase their expertise in field ecology and scientific experimentation. In addition, they receive continuing education about the natural history of arid lands and in the basics of scientific research, supplemented by in-depth training for individual projects.

An important aspect of the Citizen Science program is its self-managed structure, mirroring that of the Conservancy’s steward organization. Once trained, Citizen Science teams often work independently with limited staff and research partner oversight. This program has created an elite and capable working group – people with no prior scientific experience are now strong contributors to ecological research and monitoring.

The presentation will provide an overview of this successful model and the important work we are able to accomplish because of it.

Speakers
avatar for Tiffany Sprague

Tiffany Sprague

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
Tiffany Sprague has devoted her life to protecting our natural world while educating and inspiring others to do the same. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Sciences from University of Arizona and an M.S. in Applied Biological Sciences from Arizona State University. As a wildlife biologist... Read More →
avatar for John Zikias

John Zikias

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
John A. Zikias is a Lead Steward and chair of the Citizen Science Program for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale, Arizona. John began volunteering for the Conservancy in October 2019 after a successful business career in the convenience store industry. During his business... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 10:30am - 11:00am MST
Room 1

10:30am MST

Track 2: Field Sketching and Journaling for Dynamic Nature Engagement
Field sketching and journaling is a centuries-old activity that has recently seen a large increase in participation globally as more people turned back to nature for improving well-being during the pandemic, and for healing digitally fractured minds.  This inexpensive activity — only a pen and a notebook is required — emphasizes developing observational skills, recording what is observed, and asking questions about nature and its phenomena. Through this mindful activity, participants develop a deeper understanding and love for nature.   One does not need to be an artist or a naturalist to begin journaling and field sketching. These skills can be learned by anyone, and are developed through regular practice.  In this presentation naturalist and author Roseann Hanson will demonstrate the art of field sketching and journaling, the science behind the development of “visual intelligence,” and how to integrate this activity inexpensively in a wide variety of nature walks, trips, and even scientific expeditions.

Speakers
avatar for Roseann Hanson

Roseann Hanson

University of Arizona’s Desert Laboratory
Roseann Hanson has been practicing field sketching and journaling for over 35 years, and has taught thousands of people online and in person the art of field sketching and journaling. She wrote Nature Journaling for a Wild Life, an 8-week “workshop in a book,” she is the Art and... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 10:30am - 11:00am MST
Room 2

11:00am MST

Track 1: Desert Avicaching: Combining Community Science and Technology for Bird Conservation
The Mojave Desert of southern California is home to a rich biodiversity of birds. It also faces increasing pressure from alternative energy development, climate change, and other factors. Habitat loss and degradation from these threats has led to a decline in bird populations. Collectively, arid land bird populations in the United States have declined 43% since 1968. There is an urgent need to improve our understanding of bird population status and trends in this region, but insufficient funding to conduct broad-scale ecological monitoring. In 2018, the Sonoran Joint Venture, Point Blue Conservation Science, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology created Desert Avicaching, a game that combines the idea of geocaching with bird observation and the community science eBird platform. The goal: to gather data about bird use of areas under pressure from solar energy development to help guide management and conservation decisions. We used knowledge of birder interests and desires to develop a game that enticed birding at “avicaches” (new and underbirded eBird hotspots) where we needed information about bird status and distribution. We developed a strategic communications plan, identifying target audiences, key messages, and avenues for delivering those messages. To promote the game we gave presentations to Audubon groups and birding clubs to recruit participants. We also created a social media toolkit that the Sonoran JV and other partners used to promote the game. In recruiting participants and promoting Desert Avicaching, we highlighted the adventure aspect and the opportunity to bird in places where no one had previously submitted an eBird checklist. We also made it into a friendly competition with the addition of a leaderboard and added the enticement of prizes in the form of binoculars, t-shirts, hats, and conservation organization memberships. Over the course of six months, 72 birders submitted over 400 checklists, documenting over 140 species of birds. We estimate that avicachers contributed more than 500 hours of their time and approximately $2500 in mileage to travel to and from desert avicaching locations. Biologists are now analyzing the resulting data with the goal of using it to provide input on land management decisions and inform habitat mitigation projects. Through the use of social science, we learned that with the right incentives, we can influence birder behavior in ways that contribute to conservation.

Speakers
avatar for Jennie Duberstein

Jennie Duberstein

Sonoran Joint Venture
Dr. Jennie Duberstein (she/her/ella) directs the Sonoran Joint Venture, a binational U.S.-Mexico partnership for bird and habitat conservation. She is a wildlife biologist and conservation social scientist who has spent her professional career working to build partnerships for bird... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 11:00am - 11:30am MST
Room 1

11:00am MST

11:30am MST

Track 1: Amphibian and Reptile Nature Tourism: An Untapped Resource for Wildlife Viewing and Citizen Scientist Engagement
I manage amphibian and reptile conservation programs for Arizona Game and Fish Department, and as such I focus (generally) on very different things. However, over the years it has become increasingly obvious that in Arizona amphibian and reptile recreation (aka,“herping”) and conservation are often overlapping and complementary. Most states don’t have metrics to evaluate the contribution of herping to local economies, but citizen science websites, such as HerpMapper.com, make it abundantly obvious that herping is an extremely popular form of nature tourism, locally, regionally, and nationally. And this nature tourism often feeds into State wildlife agencies needs for distribution data for Species of Greatest Conservation Need, as well as for more common species that are often overlooked (think about how eBird has revolutionized birding and the use of citizen science data). In my presentation, I will talk about the popularity of herping in Arizona and select other states, point out the untapped potential for amphibian and reptile nature tourism in almost every part of the country, provide examples of how herping data have been used by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and our partners for management and research purposes, and make some suggestions as to how State wildlife agencies can make use of that resource.

Speakers
avatar for Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones

Arizona Game and Fish Department
Thomas R. Jones is the Amphibians and Reptiles Program Manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, where he oversees conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles in Arizona. He received a B.S. and M.S. at Auburn University, and a Ph.D. at Arizona State University... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 11:30am - 12:00pm MST
Room 1

11:30am MST

Track 2: E-Commerce: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
The internet offers new and near limitless opportunities. This includes opportunities for increasing brand recognition and fundraising through online stores. In recent years on-demand fulfillment services have made it possible to offer an abundance of options to customers without needing the capital and storage areas for products. In addition, this model spares agency/organization employees from spending significant time preparing and shipping orders. Additionally, on demand stores provide a platform to test run new and different products with little or no money or time. In the fall of 2020, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail relaunched its online store using an on-demand fulfillment company. The presentation will cover the process and options of using on demand fulfillment and challenges, both with technology and financial. Examples of products created for our store will be available for review.

Speakers
avatar for Travis Blunden

Travis Blunden

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Travis Blunden is the coordinator for Wings Over Florida.  While new to this position he is not new to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), he worked in the land management section for 11 years, first as a biologist and then as the Northeast Region’s Conservation... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 11:30am - 12:00pm MST
Room 2

12:00pm MST

Lunch
Thursday February 24, 2022 12:00pm - 1:00pm MST
TBA

1:00pm MST

General Session: Engaging with Different Perspectives in Wildlife Viewing: Organizational and Personal Experiences - Sponsored by US Forest Service
PART 1:
Presenters: Dr. Rosezetta Bobo, Diversity Officer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; George Braxton, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources; David Buggs, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Christopher Kennedy, Assistant to the Director on Inclusion and Diversity, Missouri Department of Conservation
  • This workshop will explore the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion while addressing sensitivity and unconscious bias in today’s conservation community. The focus will be on how we can all address these concepts to assist in becoming more engaging to the wildlife viewing and nature tourism community. This session will be interactive with realistic audience participation to help prompt learners to think about their own assumptions, behaviors, and experiences, enabling us all to engage in dialogue that moves everyone forward. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the many benefits of an inclusive culture and how to better engage with new audiences. Four diversity officers from four different state agencies will help guide this discussion while sharing what they are doing in their states to help change the culture of fish and game agencies to be more diverse and inclusive. They will share examples of work they have accomplished both in their workforce D&I efforts and with the constituents they serve. Join us to learn more about real life examples of what is working (or hasn’t worked in some cases) to start slowly moving the needle in a positive direction for diversity and inclusion.

PART 2: 
Presenters: Tiara Chapman, Nature Programs Coordinator, Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area; Cam Juarez, Community Engagement Coordinator, Saguaro National Park; Jeff Trollinger, Asst. Chief, Aquatic Wildlife Resources Division, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
  • The second part of this session focuses on the personal experience of colleagues from around the country who work in the natural resource field. Tiara, Cam and Jeff will share their experiences as members of minority groups who started and have then continued to work in nature tourism, wildlife viewing, and natural resource conservation. In addition to explaining some of the personal challenges and issues they have encountered, they will also share how they have effected change and used their personal experiences to continue working in this field, making sure that outdoor recreation and opportunities are open to all.

Speakers
TC

Tiara Chapman

Nature Programs Coordinator, Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area
avatar for Dr. Rosezetta Bobo

Dr. Rosezetta Bobo

Diversity Officer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Dr. Rosezetta Bobo is a nationally-recognized expert with over 20 years of experience in mediation, cultural competence, diversity and inclusion, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and community engagement for a diverse range of organizations and community settings. She has... Read More →
avatar for George Braxton

George Braxton

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
George P. Braxton is an attorney and certified diversity executive who serves as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). Prior to joining DWR, he was the chief diversity officer at the Defense Contract Management Agency and... Read More →
avatar for David Buggs

David Buggs

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Texas Parks and Wildlife
David Buggs is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), an agency of the state of Texas.  His role is developing and managing the execution of TPWD’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy.  David is also the former Chief Diversity and... Read More →
avatar for Christopher Kennedy

Christopher Kennedy

Assistant to the Director on Inclusion and Diversity, Missouri Department of Conservation
Christopher Kennedy is a native Missourian, began his 25-year career with Missouri Department of Conservation by assisting private landowners with pond and stream management, managing public lakes, and conducting public aquatic resource education.  He also led research and restoration... Read More →
avatar for Cam Juarez

Cam Juarez

Community Engagement Coordinator, Saguaro National Park
Cam Juárez was born near Yuma, Arizona in 1972.  Growing up as the son of humble migrant farm workers and with a physical disability, Cam faced many challenges in his formative years, including poverty, bullying and systemic discrimination. Despite this, he managed to graduate high... Read More →
avatar for Jeff Trollinger

Jeff Trollinger

Assistant Chief, Aquatic Wildlife Resources Division, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Jeff has worked with or for the Department (DWR) since 1987 where he began as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech.Jeff is originally from Luray, Virginia.  He has B.S. in Wildlife Management from Virginia Tech, a second B.S. Human Resource Management from Bluefield College and almost... Read More →


Thursday February 24, 2022 1:00pm - 4:30pm MST
TBA

4:30pm MST

Academy Wrap-up and looking forward to 2024
Thursday February 24, 2022 4:30pm - 5:00pm MST
TBA

6:00pm MST

Closing Reception
Thursday February 24, 2022 6:00pm - 8:30pm MST
TBA
 
Friday, February 25
 

7:00am MST

Field Learning Experience: A Day in the Sonoran Desert
Join Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists on an exploration of the Sonoran Desert. We will spend the day in one of the most diverse portions of the Arizona Upland Sonoran Desert, just a short drive from Tucson. Our goal is to learn about the plants and animals of the desert with an emphasis on reptiles and birds.

We will focus on one or two sites where we will fan out into relatively untouched desert to look for Sonoran desert tortoises, rock-dwelling snakes and lizards, and, if we are incredibly lucky, Gila monsters – all of which will be visible nestled in their overwintering sites. If the weather cooperates, we might see some roaming about. Winter birds in the desert include Gila and Gilded Flicker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Abert’s Towhee, Greater Roadrunner and many others. The area can be described as low, rocky hills studded with stately saguaros, mixed with paloverdes and creosote bush.

We’ll depart the conference site at 8 a.m. and drive about 40 minutes to the field site; we will head back to Tucson following lunch. We want the timing to be flexible, to allow us to take advantage of the day’s discoveries. Participants should wear sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes (including a jacket). Dress in layers. Bring a hat and water bottle, as well as any personal snacks or medications. Binoculars are highly recommended if you have them. We will be walking on uneven, rocky terrain and will be constantly exposed to the Arizona sun and aridity.


Friday February 25, 2022 7:00am - 4:00pm MST
Offsite: Sonoran Desert

7:00am MST

Field Learning Experience: Home on the Range - A Tour of Southeastern Arizona’s Grasslands - Sponsored by Arizona Wildlife Federation
Join the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) on a tour of southeastern Arizona’s grasslands -- where the deer and the antelope play! We will visit several sites on the tour including the Las Cienegas Natural Resource Area to see reintroduced black-tailed prairie dogs and Chiricahua leopard frogs. We’ll hear first-hand from Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists about the challenges and successes of these reintroduction efforts. As this site is also an Important Bird Area and we’ll take time to look for some Arizona specialty birds in the adjacent riparian area.

Included in this part of the tour is a visit to the nearby black-tailed prairie dog reintroduction site. Here, we’ll see this previously extirpated species now thriving in the area’s grasslands. We’ll learn about the prairie dog’s life history and the recovery effort as we watch their early spring antics. If the day is warm enough, they are sure to be out and active.

Heading south, we’ll scan the grasslands for pronghorn, a species whose numbers have increased greatly thanks to extensive conservation efforts in the region. As we stop to view the pronghorn, our local wildlife biologist will share the story of this magnificent species’ successful return to the range.

In the middle of pronghorn country, we’ll stop for lunch at Querencia Farm, owned by a board member of the AWF. We’ll enjoy a lovely farm-to-table lunch on-site, including local fare from Querencia and neighboring farms. Querencia Farm is also a recognized Monarch Way Station and we will hear about efforts in the Southwest to help restore this iconic but greatly imperiled species.

We’ll head back to Tucson following lunch. This trip will take approximately 7 hours, departing the conference site at 8 a.m. and returning close to 3 p.m. Participants should wear sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes (including a jacket). Dress in layers. Bring a hat, refillable water bottle, any personal snacks or medications, and binoculars if you have them. We will be walking on uneven, rocky terrain, getting in and out of 15 passenger vans, and be exposed to a nearly full day of Arizona sun and aridity.


Friday February 25, 2022 7:00am - 4:00pm MST
Offsite: Southeastern Arizona’s Grasslands
 
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