Thanks to all the hosts, organizers, committee members, sponsors, staff, organizations, presenters, exhibitors, and attendees of last week’s 2023 Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference.
Some follow-up statistics:
Total Attendance: 357
- 3 days of material presented
- 60+ hours of training delivered
- 36 classroom sessions
- 4 mobile seminars
Evaluation Average Score: 4.6 out of a maximum 5.0
Open Night Reception: The Rookery at The Nature Place
Conference co-hosts Berks Nature opened up The Nature Place, their LEED Gold certified headquarters in Reading’s Angelica Creek Park for our opening night reception. Guests were treated to a make-your-own fajita stand and more along with open bars and a band in The Rookery at The Nature Place, a beautiful contemporary gathering hall with a fantastic amount of natural light. The Rookery opened onto a gorgeous outdoor deck with active stormwater gardens and views of the park. Berks Nature staff led visitors on tours of their facility throughout the night as conference guests, presenters, sponsors, and hosts mingled. We were lucky to have a gorgeous night of weather.
Plenary and Keynote
Our plenary guest dignitary speakers were Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz (Reading City Council), Michael Rivera (Berks County Commissioner), and Cindy Adams Dunn (Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). Additionally, conference title sponsor Aqua shared a mini documentary highlighting watershed project work they’ve done. The keynote address was then delivered by Dr. Michael Mann. All four speakers emphasized the critical role conservation plays in civic planning today as well as in facing the future threats of climate change. An emerging theme from both the plenary and keynote was the idea that the more high-conservation-value land and waterways we conserve, clean, and protect today, the better it will be for our tomorrow.
Lifetime Conservation Leadership Awards Recognize Karen Martynick and David Shields
This year’s Lifetime Conservation Leadership Awards were given to two honorees for the first time ever: Karen Martynick (retired, Lancaster Farmland Trust) and David Shields (retired, Brandywine Conservancy). An enjoyable reception and dinner were held before the awards. Martynick and Shields were introduced by longtime colleagues Jeff Swinehart (Lancaster Farmland Trust) and Stephanie Armpriester (Brandywine Conservancy). Both honorees were then given a chance to speak, and among the themes they emphasized were the value in building good teams and relationships, the importance of continuing the cause of conservation, staying inspired to continue to work hard and to do the work well, and to always be open to learning and growing along the journey of a conservation career. Robust standing ovations were given for both as they were formally acknowledged with Pennsylvania hardwood plaques.
The bread and butter of the conference, of course, is all the opportunities to listen and learn in educational sessions. Whether attendees got to experience one presenter or a full panel of perspectives, there was no shortage of opportunities across a broad range of conservation topics both fundamental and forward-thinking.
The Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference also provided networking opportunities for conservation professionals, exhibitor opportunities for sponsors, a meeting place for the WeConservePA board and policy council, and an array of mobile seminar field trips. The pictures shown here truly only scratch the surface of all the professional development that happened in Reading. Feel free to check out the WeConservePA Facebook or Instagram accounts for more conference visuals.
Save the Date: April 3-5, 2024, Bethlehem
Next year’s Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference will be held in Bethlehem, April 3-5, at Wind Creek. Join us! Mark your calendars now.
Photo credits: Robert Campbell