Four nationally acclaimed figures from divergent backgrounds will be among the major speakers at the Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation conference in midJuly in Madison, WI. There, 1,200 participants are expected to gather at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Centerand thousands more will participate electronicallyto ratify a new vision to guide the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next decade.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, hailed for his leadership as the national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will speak, as will Rice University history professor and author Douglas Brinkley, who recently wrote The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom. They will be joined by Sylvia Earle, a former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, now a National Geographic explorerinresidence and author; and National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.
Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, will send a video message. Others are also expected to send messages electronically.
Cuttingedge technology will engage participants thousands of miles away from Madison, giving them ideas on how to implement the vision in their communities and on national wildlife refuges. Ratification of the vision, which was open to public comment for about 60 days, is a major goal of the conference, said Refuge System Chief Greg Siekaniec. But it is not the only objective.
We expect people up at the conference and joining us from every corner of the nation will be fired up to make the vision happen on the ground, to take the conversations we started online into their own neighborhoods for facetoface talks that will energize people who never before thought of themselves as conservationists.
The daybyday conference schedule will be posted at the Conserving the Future Web site, http://americaswildlife.org/, well before the event starts. During the conference, live streaming video will be aired on the site. During the plenary sessions, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, refuge Friends and individuals across the nation will be able to submit questions remotely as speakers also take questions from the floor.
Online daily news feeds will be produced by teams of Service employees who will act as roaming journalists, writing stories from breakout sessions July 1214. These teams also will interview participants and create onthespot videos. Social media writers will bring news from the conference to Facebook and Twitter sites via the Conserving the Future Web site. Blogs will be updated from the conference by Service writers and participants. Photos will be posted regularly on Flickr.
About 20 studentsbrought to the conference through two programs that provide employment to young peoplewill report on what they see and hear on site. Youth engagement will be a hallmark of the conference.
The JulyAugust issue of Refuge Update will be devoted entirely to the conference and will be available in early July at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/ to bring as much advance news as possible.
We’ve designed both the conference and the vision process to be inclusive, whether people are in Madison or in their homes and offices, said Siekaniec. Planning will continue up to the last minute to make sure we bring as much information to people in a way that will minimize our carbon footprint and maximize their participation and understanding.