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Special Sessions for 88th North American Conference Announced
The program steering committee for the 88th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference has announced the event’s four special sessions.
The conference will be held March 20-24, 2023, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.
Anyone interested in participating as a presenter at one of the special sessions is welcome to contact the appropriate chair or co-chairs.
Special Session 1
The Endangered Species Act at 50: Lessons from the Past; Hope for the Future
Co-Chairs: Lowell E. Baier, Law Offices of Lowell E. Baier; John F. Organ, Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board
The U.S. Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 amid a wave of groundbreaking federal environmental legislation. The Act has been hailed by many as the greatest piece of environmental legislation in history, and it has been derided by others as an ineffective and intrusive law that epitomizes federal overreach. As we celebrate its 50th birthday, we are facing a biodiversity crisis. Will the ESA endure, and will it continue to prevent extinctions and be a force in maintaining our natural heritage? This special session will feature presentations on the origin and history of the ESA, and pragmatic recommendations for increasing its future viability and effectiveness. Insights from the Act’s framers gathered from in-person interviews, and a chronology of its evolution will provide perspective. Legal and biological scholars and practitioners will present recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and practical opportunities to expand the future flexibility and viability of the Act, ensuring its continued effectiveness. The session will conclude with a moderated panel discussion where the presenters will tackle questions from the audience.
Special Session 2
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation: Contemporary Context and a Vision for the Future
Co-Chairs: Lane Kisonak, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Gordon Batcheller, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
This session will serve as part two of the 2022 session titled, “Inspired by the North American Model: Wildlife Conservation at a Crossroads,” a session that marked the 10 year milestone articulated in the 2012 TWS Technical Review of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (Model). That initial session focused on a high-level overview of the history of the Model, an analysis of gaps and vacancies, a summary of critiques, and perspectives on shaping a constructive dialogue inspired by the Model. As an outgrowth of the rich discussions generated by last year’s session, the 2023 Special Session will provide a platform to present perspectives from a greater diversity of conservation partners on how they use and interpret the Model in the context of programs or policies. This session will also present a plan for concluding a multi-year review of the Model and its implications, and introduce the concept for a revision of the North American Wildlife Policy, last articulated in 1973, based on the original policy drafted in 1930.
Special Session 3
Connecting the North American and One Health Models: Chasing the Rabbit of Relevancy
Co-Chairs: Mark Humpert, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; M. Camille Hopkins, United States Geologic Service; Jason Sumners, Missouri Department of Conservation; Sherri Russell, Missouri Department of Conservation; Lorisa Smith, Missouri Department of Conservation
People, wildlife, and their shared ecosystems face a multitude of cross-cutting and urgent challenges including habitat loss, climate change, and zoonotic pathogens. It has long been recognized that collaboration among sectors and stakeholders offers the best chance of addressing complex challenges. This special session will share diverse voices and perspectives centered on making practical and actionable ideas aimed at both understanding and promoting the central role nature plays in the physical, social, and mental well-being of individuals and communities. Presenters will engage in a Socratic-style discussion as an expert panel after base leveling sharing of information from the recent resolution titled “The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the One Health Approach: Providing the Foundation for a Leadership Role.” Attendees will leave the session with a deeper understanding of the connections between wildlife diversity, wildlife health, and relevancy. Additionally, participants will be presented with new and improved mental tools to deal with and interpret challenges and opportunities for leveraged impact within and with diverse human communities.
Special Session 4
Telling the Tale Through TikTok: Evolving Conservation Communications in the Digital Age
Co-Chairs: Jodi Stemler, Jodi Stemler Consulting, LLC; Steve Belinda, Mule Deer Foundation
As conservation agencies and organizations grapple with building relevance to a broader and often more disconnected constituency, evaluating effective communications techniques is more important than ever. A common challenge facing all conservation-focused organizations is the telling of their story with a communications strategy that can both clearly explain complicated conservation science and engage the public to support conservation objectives. Unfortunately, digital media platforms change at seeming light speed, pressing conservation communicators to find ever faster and more novel ways to stay relevant while not getting lost in all the noise. Effective communication strategies must evolve to meet today’s mediums, particularly with the advancement of social media and apps as the primary way younger people get information on most subjects.
Session presenters will highlight recent research into how conservation professionals can reframe their communications efforts to be more effective. Speakers will include influencers and representatives from organizations that are utilizing creative tactics to share complicated scientific research. This session will help agency leadership understand the critical importance of conservation communications to support their efforts and provide all attendees with examples of creative communications initiatives that are actively engaging a broader public on complex natural resource conservation issues.