UMISC plenaries bring all attendees together to hear leading regional and national experts. Plenary speakers work at the cutting edge of invasive species research, management, communication, and policy. All plenaries will be held in South Hall A in the lower level of the La Crosse Center.
Tentative plenary schedule is Monday morning, October 17, 2016 from 9:30 am - 11:30 am and Tuesday lunch, October 18, 2016 from 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm. Exact Plenary Schedule will be finalized by June 2016. Scroll down to read descriptions of plenary presentations and biosketches of presenters.
Monday Morning Plenary, October 17, 2016
The Nature Conservancy
Tell Me a Story: Communicating About Invasives in the Information Age
A recent Washington Post story proclaimed: “The answers to the world’s most pressing problems are buried in reports that no one reads.” Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the fact remains that reports, white papers and brochures are more likely to attract dust than your audience. At the same time, a growing number of readers are flocking to science blogs and online science content. They’re highly enthusiastic and eager to learn more about the invasives issue. But if you bore them: well, they’ll just go read something else. How do you tell your story in a way that connects to them? What makes messages stick? Matt Miller, director of science communications for The Nature Conservancy, will share the secrets of standing out in an age of information overload. He’ll break down successful stories, how to reach your intended audience and how to avoid common communications pitfalls. Along the way, he’ll share his own stories from the field. You’ll think about framing your own work in new ways – you’ll be conveying the science of your work and have fun doing so!
Matt Miller is director of science communications for The Nature Conservancy. He is responsible for telling the stories of the Conservancy’s research programs around the globe, including many invasive species outreach, detection and management projects. He is the editor and feature writer for the popular Cool Green Science blog and a regular columnist for Nature Conservancy Magazine. Matt previously worked for 11 years as the director of communications for the Conservancy’s Idaho Chapter, where he also served as the first chair of the Governor’s Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign. A graduate of Penn State, Matt brings 25 years experience in feature writing, blogging, media relations and media training. He has traveled to 6 continents in his search for unusual wildlife and good stories. An avid hunter, angler and naturalist, he lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and young son.
Energy Resources Center, University of Illinois at Chicago
Finding Opportunities for Native Habitat along Rights-of-Way
Last spring the White House released the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which noted that beekeepers lost 40 percent of their honey bee colonies in 2014, monarch butterfly populations have declined by as much as 90 percent over the last two decades, and other severe declines have been observed in native bee populations. With increasing attention being given to these startling figures, a number of collaborative efforts have emerged to foster conservation activities in key sectors and support an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to habitat restoration. Working with industries in the utility and transportation sectors, the Energy Resources Center (ERC) at the University of Illinois-Chicago formed the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group in March 2015 to focus attention on opportunities for utilizing native vegetation in rights-of-way to support pollinator conservation efforts. More than 100 organizations from across the U.S. have engaged in the working group since. The working group’s overarching aim is to provide a forum to collaborate and share ideas, best practices, and other information that promote successful habitat projects along rights-of-way. Activities of the working group include facilitating workshops and webinars, assembling an online resources database, developing a unified message about rights-of-way as habitat, encouraging collaboration between landowners, and providing industry recognition. This presentation will provide an overview of the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group's efforts as well as highlight some specific success stories and challenges faced by working group participants, including making a business case for habitat programs, changing management practices, and controlling for invasive species in rights of way landscapes.
Iris Caldwell is a Research Engineer at the Energy Resources Center (ERC) located at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she primarily works to engage the agricultural, transportation, and utility sectors on special projects such as pollinator habitat development. Over the past year, she has facilitated the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group to promote habitat restoration along transportation and utility corridors. Prior to joining the ERC, Iris worked for more than eight years in industry, both as a manufacturing plant environmental engineer and as an environmental consultant. She has a strong background in environmental regulatory compliance, greenhouse gas accounting, carbon offset verification, low-carbon fuel standards, and other environmental and sustainability reporting. Iris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil – Environmental Engineering from Iowa State University and is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Illinois.
Redpath Museum and School of Environment, McGill University
Why Biological Invasions Matter
Driven by the movement of people and cargo across the planet, thousands of species of plants, animals and microbes are spreading into new regions faster and farther than at any other time in Earth's history. These biological invasions can cause extinctions, disrupt ecosystems, alter natural resources, threaten human health, and even pose national security problems. In spite of these risks, there have appeared several recent opinion articles in the scientific literature and the popular media that downplay the impacts of invasions and, furthermore, question the scientific merit of attempting to prevent incursions of non-native species. Collectively, these articles claim that 1) modern invasions are nothing new, i.e. the magnitude and impacts of recent invasions are similar to those that have occurred prehistorically and, thus, the role of humans in the modern mass invasion event and concern over its consequences have been exaggerated; 2) with rare exceptions, non-native species are innocuous passengers rather than drivers of changes to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; and 3) non-native species are no more likely than natives to cause undesirable impacts, and so the biogeographic origins of species are not relevant to conservation and resource management. However, each of these claims is refuted by empirical evidence from field surveys, experiments and meta-analyses. Examples from freshwater, terrestrial and marine studies demonstrate the importance of incorporating biogeographic origins and evolutionary context in the risk assessment of invasions.
Dr. Anthony Ricciardi is a professor in the Redpath Museum and the School of Environment at McGill University, and a McGill Trottier Fellow in Science and Public Policy. For over 20 years, his research has examined the causes and consequences of biological invasions in aquatic ecosystems. He is an editorial board member for the journal Biological Invasions and the journal Diversity and Distributions. For ten years, he served on the scientific committee of the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network, a research group that examined the risks of invasion in Canada's lakes, rivers and coastal waters. He and his students are currently working on projects in North America, Europe and South Africa that aim to predict the impacts of invasive aquatic invertebrates and fishes, using experimental and statistical approaches.
Tuesday Lunch Plenary
Tuesday, October 18, 11:50 am - 1:20 pm
Office of Policy Analysis
United States Department of the Interior
The U.S. Department of Interior [Department] has been actively engaged in prevention, early detection and rapid response, control and management, and research related to invasive species for nearly 60 years. Current and emerging invasive species continue to threaten the ecological, economic, and cultural integrity of America’s landscapes.
This presentation will: 1) Provide an overview of the Department and the importance of minimizing the risk and impacts of invasive species. 2) Describe various invasive species activities underway at the Department, such as landscape level invasive species initiatives; novel approaches for prevention, detection, and control; and, policy and planning actions. 3) Highlight early detection and rapid response efforts, including the Department’s role in developing the interdepartmental report, Safeguarding America’s Lands and Waters from Invasive Species: A National Framework for Early Detection and Rapid Response, released February 2016.
The Department manages one-fifth of the country’s land area, 135,000 miles of coastline, 476 dams and 348 reservoirs, and 1.76 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf. It upholds the federal government’s trust responsibilities to 567 Indian tribes, supplies water to more than 30 million people, protects the icons of the country’s national heritage, and conserves fish, wildlife, and their habitats. The Department’s lands, facilities, and resources are vulnerable to biological invasions and can in turn be pathways and sources for invasive species introductions to both public and private lands.
Hilary Smith is the Invasive Species Coordinator for the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. She works closely with invasive species program leads within Interior’s bureaus and offices and coordinates Department-wide invasive species strategic action plans, policy initiatives, and working groups. Hilary previously worked for The Nature Conservancy directing an award-winning program to protect lands, waters, and local communities from invasive species in the six million acre Adirondack Park in NY. Hilary received a M.S. in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy from the State University of NY in Albany and a B.A. in Biology from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY.
Motivational Speaker from La Crosse, Wisconsin
It's Your Attitude, It's Your Day, Make It a Good One
How important is your attitude at work? When communicating? Do your eyes, voice tone, and body language enhance or diminish your ability to convey your thoughts and lead a group to consensus or a decision? Are you a Team player? What does a smile, hand shake, ready-aim-fire, the iceberg and airplane theory have to do with communication? What would you do with $84,600? How important is laughter in your life? This 15 minute session will move along quickly so be prepared to listen fast and if you're not "humor impaired" you may even share a laugh or two from the "Book of Roger."
Roger D Fish is an energetic and humorous speaker who melds more that 30 years of teaching, administration, and leadership experiences in the field of public education and professional speaking. Roger's local and state presentations to thousands have lent themselves well to engaging others into recognizing and providing stewardship for the critical relationships in their lives. Roger's enthusiastic, humorous and positive delivery style challenges the audience to pursue a positive outlook on life and its many challenges. His philosophy of building strong relationships - both personal and professional - along with his belief that, "It's your attitude, it's your day, make it a good one," will set you on a course of accountability for your life.