The National Conservation Training Center invites prominent conservationists, writers, historians, scientists, filmmakers, and educators to discuss their work to a broad and interested public.

If you would like more information on the speaker series contact: Mark Madison, 304-876-7276, mark_madison@fws.gov.

These talks are co-sponsored by The Friends of the NCTC.

Recorded Sessions

Bird Collisions With Communication Towers: How We Can Reduce the Risks and Save Money

Details:  Every year an estimated 6.6 million birds collide with communication towers in the U.S. Fortunately, cost-saving methods can reduce the number of bird collisions by as much as 70%. Together, tower owners and bird conservation enthusiasts can embrace this win-win and save both money and birds. Dr. Joelle Gehring is a Biologist in the Division of Bird Conservation, Permits, and Regulations in the Migratory Bird Program of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (2020 – present). Prior to joining the Service, she worked for the Federal Communications Commission (2012-2020) where she conducted environmental review and worked with tower operators to minimize bird collisions with communications towers and adverse effects to protected species. From 2005 – 2012, Dr. Gehring was a Senior Conservation Scientist with Michigan State University (MSU) where she designed and supervised a multi-year, landscape-scale study of the variables associated with bird collisions at communications towers. While with MSU she also studied wildlife interactions with wind energy facilities and used those data to improve turbine siting. Throughout her career, Dr. Gehring has used science and stakeholder input to develop and disseminate information on mainstreaming and cost-effective methods to reduce wildlife-human conflicts. Dr. Gehring completed her Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology at Purdue University, M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources at West Virginia University, and her B.S., in both Biology and Wildlife Management at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. Dr. Gehring has a wonderful son who is studying conservation biology at Central Michigan University.

This talk is as part of NCTC’s Conservation Lecture Series, which is co-sponsored by The Friends of the NCTC.

Presenter:  Dr. Joelle Gehring, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Recorded:  May 12, 2022

Duration:  58 minutes

Duration:  57 minutes

Environmental Historian Char Miller on “Biology, Conservation, and the Administrative State in Late 19th and early 20th C America"

Details:  Pomona College Environmental Historian Char Miller will explore the links between federal scientists, economic development and the emergence of a more powerful nation-state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inside government, the cadre of researchers in the Biological Survey, such as C. Hart Merriam, Vernon Bailey, and Florence Merriam Bailey, identified, cataloged, and mapped the nation’s flora and fauna with an eye to ascertaining its economic value. In the academy, botanists like JM Coulter and his student William L. Bray—among many others—collaborated with the Biological Survey and other Bureaus to contribute to this larger project of marrying the scientific enterprise with the country’s growth and development. Their collective activism expanded the range and reach of these agencies, and was particularly propelled by the energetic TR who did not just establish the first wildlife refuges and vastly expand the number and size of national forests, but in doing so constructed what Brian Balogh calls the Administrative State.

Presenter: Char Miller, Author

Char Miller is the WM Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History at Pomona College and is author most recently of Hetch Hetchy: A History in Documents, co-editor of Theodore Roosevelt: Naturalist in the Arena and the Nature of Hope: Grassroots Organizing, Environmental Justice, and Political Change. Forthcoming is West Side Rising: How San Antonio’s 1921 Flood Devastated a City and Sparked a Latino Environmental Justice Movement and a biography of botanist/ecologist William L. Bray.

Recorded:  June 24, 2021

Glory of the National Parks with John Waterman

Details:  Author and explorer Jon Waterman presents a lecture and slide show on his new book Atlas of the National Parks, published by National Geographic. 

Presenter:  Jon Waterman

Jon Waterman has worked as a wilderness guide and as a national park ranger, exploring—in boats, on foot, or on dogsleds—remote places and many of the 62 national parks. He has received numerous grants from the National Geographic Society Expeditions Council, and his award-winning writing and photography have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers.  He has written 14 books on adventure and the environment, including the National Geographic Atlas of the National Parks (November 2019) and Chasing Denali (November 2018).  https://jonathanwaterman.com/books/atlas-of-the-national-parks

Recorded:  September 15, 2020

Duration:  51 Minutes

Duration:  53 minutes

Howard Zahniser: "Champion for the Wilderness" Film Screening

Details:  Author and filmmaker Jeffrey Ryan will screen and discuss his new film, Howard Zahniser: Champion for the Wilderness. Howard Zahniser (1905-1964) was the primary author and lobbyist for the Wilderness Act. A writer, researcher, and radio scriptwriter for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1930-1942, he also served as Executive Secretary of The Wilderness Society, starting in 1945. For the next two decades, he was an eloquent advocate for America’s wilderness lands, dying just a few months before the Wilderness Act became law. 

Presenter:  Jeffrey Ryan

Maine-based author, filmmaker & speaker Jeffrey Ryan has a passion for exploring the outdoors on foot and along the dusty paths of history. His travels on thousands of miles of America’s most famous and lesser-known trails have inspired several books including Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year Hike on America’s Trail and his 2019 historical novel entitled, Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte. Ryan’s interest in the history of America’s conservation movement led him to create a video series entitled Voices of the Wilderness, that showcase the enormous contributions of those who have advocated for the creation and protection of our wild lands. When he is not researching and writing, Ryan can be found exploring the backroads of the United States and Canada in his vintage 1985 VW camper.   https://www.jeffryanauthor.com/voices-of-the-wilderness 

Recorded:  July 7, 2020

Jack Davis on his book-The Bald Eagle The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird

Details:  The Pulitzer Prize-winning author will discuss his sweeping cultural and environmental history of the bald eagle in America.
The Bald Eagle forces us to reconsider the story of America through the lens of our relationship to the natural world. As Davis reveals, no other animal in American history, certainly no avian one, has been the simultaneous object of such adoration and cruelty as the bald eagle – first beloved and hailed as an emblem of the rarefied natural environment of North America, then hated, and, finally, revered and protected.
Taking us from before the nation’s founding, when Indigenous peoples lived peacefully beside the eagle, through two nearly inconceivable resurgences in the 20th century when it was – not once, but twice – nearly brought to extinction by hunting and DDT, Davis recounts a panoramic history of the bird and the icon, through nearly five centuries.
In resurrecting the voices of environmental prophets who warned against DDT; the efforts of a remarkable cast of bird advocates and rescuers who – state by state, nest by nest – climbed trees, rescued eggs, and reintroduced fledges into the wild; and finally, charting the ecological redemption born from bipartisan legislation, Davis reveals the glimmer of a potential path forward as we grapple with environmental peril on a larger scale. The Bald Eagle is, too, Davis notes, a tale of American values and while patriotism and environmentalism may seem at odds today, “in the American historical context they are complementary at their core.”

Presenter:  Jack E. Davis
Jack is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea and An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century. The Rothman Family Chair in the Humanities at the University of Florida, he lives in Florida and New Hampshire.

Date Recorded:  June 16, 2022

Reintroducing Bald Eagles with FWS Biologist Craig Koppie

Details:  Craig will discuss his long term work with Bald Eagle reintroductions and current research on Eastern Golden Eagles.

Craig had an early fascination for wildlife, photography, climbing, and aviation, all of which helped to establish a 38 year career with the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has worked most of his federal career as an endangered species biologist and eagle/raptor coordinator at the Chesapeake Bay Field Office in Annapolis, Maryland. Integrating science, education and public outreach into his life’s work has culminated in hundreds of acres of permanently protected lands for eagles through conservation easements or deed restrictions. In part, these contributions helped to support the Service’s Chesapeake Bay Bald Eagle Recovery goal of long term habitat protection.

Recorded: April 22, 2021

Duration:  75 minutes

Return to Us: Restoring Alaska’s Eklutna River 

Details: This powerful documentary film describes the effort to restore the Eklutna River. Produced by Ryan Peterson, award winning filmmaker of Super Salmon, this 8-minute film reveals the intertwined histories of the Eklutna Dena’ina Native people and Pacific salmon. The beauty and tragedy of the Eklutna River, the dreams of the Eklutna people, and the tenacity of salmon are revealed in this film and the discussion to follow with Meiklejohn.

The Eklutna River near Anchorage, Alaska, is the scene of the most ambitious river restoration project ever attempted in the state. First dammed for hydropower production in the 1920’s, the Eklutna is now the subject of a major recovery effort to establish a free-flowing river to benefit salmon and the Eklutna Dena’ina tribe. Beginning in 2015, The Conservation Fund launched a $7.5 million project to remove the Lower Eklutna River dam. As described in the film “Return to Us” the project was completed in 2018 to open the river to salmon once again after 90 years.

According to Meiklejohn: “Removing the Eklutna River dam was easily the highwater mark of my 30 year conservation career. We have done a lot of good here in Alaska since 1994, but nothing else has generated anything close to the excitement, attention and eagerness to help that we found on this dam project. This project united people across all boundaries and persuasions to the task of fixing a broken river. People love fixing things, and especially now there is a thirst for helping Nature in real, tangible ways. At the Eklutna we are putting Humpty Dumpty back together after 90 years of being broken.”

Presenter:  Brad Meiklejohn has been with The Conservation Fund in Alaska since 1994. The Conservation Fund is a national land trust based in Arlington, Virginia. Brad has served on the Board of Directors of the Murie Center and the Alaska Avalanche School, is past president of the Patagonia Land Trust and the American Packrafting Association, and the recipient of the Olaus Murie Conservation Award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

Recorded:  March 4, 2021

Duration:  52 minutes

The Home Place

Detail:  Author, naturalist, and Clemson University Wildlife Ecology Professor J. Drew Lanham gives an overview of his book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. Professor Lanham’s presentation describes a black naturalist’s improbable journey in a largely white field. 

Presenter:  J. Drew Lanham, a native of Edgefield, South Carolina, J. Drew Lanham is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. An Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.  https://jdlanham.wixsite.com/blackbirder 

Recorded: January 27, 2021

Duration: 60 minutes

The Tie that Binds: Rosalie Edge, Conservation, and Women's Suffrage (00:43:25)

 Details:  Author Dyana Furmansky presents a lecture on her book "Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy." Rosalie Edge, well-known for creating the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania, challenged early 20th century conservationists to protect endangered birds. This progressive New York socialite and suffragist-turned-environmentalist became known as a “Joan of Arc” and a “hellcat” in defense of nature. This lecture comes to us 100 years after the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.   

Presenter:  Dyana Furmansky coauthored These American Lands: Parks, Wilderness, and the Public Lands. Her articles on nature and the environment have appeared in the New York TimesAmerican HeritageAudubonHigh Country NewsSierraWilderness and many other publications.  https://www.dyanazfurmansky.com/rosalie-edge-hawk-of-mercy    

Recorded: June 8, 2021

Duration:  43 minutes