Become a better conservation advocate and attend a “Conservation Conversation” event

Think spring and attend a “Conservation Conversation” event to connect with local environmental stewards and become a more knowledgeable conservation advocate.

For decorative purposes.

The 2023 “Conservation Conversation” event series provides communities across Michigan an opportunity to gather in-person and engage with like-minded scientists, environmental stewards and local community conservation partners. Each event in March and April will feature unique conservation presentations from scientists across the state. The events are designed to give community members an opportunity to learn and engage in discussion while enjoying light refreshments, and are organized by the Michigan State University Extension Conservation Stewards Program.

The six Conservation Conversations events will each focus on a different topic with various dates and locations across the state. They will feature current research and management approaches, unique natural communities, and diverse partnerships involved in supporting Michigan ecosystems. Each event will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning with the presentation and followed by a question and answer session. There is a $10 per person advance registration fee, or $15 available at the door. Michigan Conservation Steward Program alumni may attend for free!  

Who should attend Conservation Conversations events?

  • Those interested in nature who want to learn more about ecosystems and conservation efforts in Michigan.
  • Michigan Conservation Stewards Program alumni who are interested in continuing their learning and networking/connecting with others.
  • Natural resource professionals who want to build their knowledge on ecosystem-based management principles.
  • Individuals who want to learn more about the Michigan Conservation Steward Program as well as other MSU or MSU Extension programs and events being offered in 2023.
  • Those who want to learn about conservation organizations and local stewardship efforts, including how to get involved.

Conservation Conversation events

March 8, 2023: Fire-adapted natural communities in the Huron-Manistee National Forest (MSU Kellogg Biological Station, Hickory Corners, MI)

Jesse Lincoln, a conservation associate and ecologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), will be leading a presentation and discussion about the fire-adapted habitats within the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Michigan’s fire-adapted native prairie and savanna habitats have severely decreased in size. This decline has severely impacted the wildlife that depends on these plant communities and habitats. To recover, protect, and conserve these habitats, several environmental agencies are observing and collecting data from the remaining fire-adapted habitats in the Cadillac District of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Methodology for identifying important conservation targets, presenting surprising highlights, and discussion of potential management approaches and prioritization of the identified areas will all be covered. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

March 14, 2023: Remote Great Lakes islands surveys: notable discoveries & prioritization framework for biodiversity stewardship (University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI)

Josh Cohen, a senior conservation scientist and lead ecologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), will be leading a presentation and discussion about the biodiversity loss on the Great Lakes islands. These islands are facing threats to their native biodiversity for several different reasons and the majority of these islands are remote and/or very difficult to access. The lack of access to these islands makes decision-making and effective management, to combat the loss of native biodiversity, extremely difficult. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has collaborated with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and tribal natural resource departments to collect data to record the baseline status of the ecosystem. The current status of the research and how to prioritize biodiversity stewardship will be covered. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

March 21, 2023: Telling your story — communicating to inspire conservation action (Boardman River Nature Center, Traverse City, MI)

Jo Latimore, Ph.D., an aquatic ecologist in Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, will be leading a presentation and discussion around effectively communicating environmental issues to motivate others to action. To convey environmental issues, particularly those involving conservation, it is crucial to communicate clearly both personal experiences and scientific fact. This presentation will help guide conservation advocates in finding the perfect balance of the two to meaningfully and effectively communicate environmental concerns with others. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

April 6, 2023: “Native and invasive mussels in the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers” (Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Trenton, MI)

Shay Keretz, a current graduate student in the aquatic ecology in the earth and ecosystem sciences doctoral program at Central Michigan University, will be presenting and leading a discussion on mussels in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. It was believed that native mussels, or unionids, were wiped out after invasive mussels, Zebra and Quagga mussels, were introduced to the Detroit and St. Clair river systems. However, in a recent survey native mussels were found, though sparsely distributed. Using the data collected from both of these rivers, distribution models for both native and invasive mussels were created. The conservation and management of native mussels, and how these data models will contribute to the planning, will be discussed. This Conservation Conversation is possible through partnership with the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge Science Lecture Series. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

April 11, 2023: “Illuminating the shoreline: the influence of light pollution on freshwater environments” (Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI)

Elizabeth Parkinson, the head of the Freshwater Forum at Cranbrook Institute of Science and a National Science Foundation Fellow currently working on her doctorate at Oakland University in aquatic ecology, will be leading a presentation and discussion about the impact of artificial light on freshwater coastlines. As development across the globe occurs on freshwater coastlines, there are many questions and unknowns regarding how artificial light, particularly at night, will affect the natural world. A crucial indicator of freshwater communities are insects, so their behavioral reaction to artificial light may give us the best insight into how our freshwater waterways and shorelines will react to the growing light pollution. This Conservation Conversation is possible through partnership with the Cranbrook Institute of Science: Women in Science Speaker Series. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

April 18, 2023: “Wetland Conservation in Michigan” Michigan Nature Association, Okemos, MI

Barb Avers, Ph.D., a waterfowl and wetland specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, will be presenting and leading a discussion about the importance of conserving Michigan’s wetlands. Michigan’s wetlands provide a wide range of benefits to Michigan’s landscape, such as providing a habitat for native wildlife, acting as a natural water purifier and storing large amounts of water during a flood. There are a wide range of different government agencies and local organizations that work together to conserve, restore, and protect wetlands across Michigan. Everyone can positively impact and contribute to wetland conservation, which will be discussed. For further information and/or to register, please visit this link.

For more information regarding the Conservation Conversation events, or other events hosted by the MSU Extension Conservation Stewards Program, please visit this link

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