According to current estimates, there are between 300 and 400 local watershed organizations active across Pennsylvania. But opportunities for networking and collaboration among them have been limited: though gatherings have been held occasionally since the early 2000s, the last statewide conference of watershed groups was in 2010.
This spring the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and its affiliate, The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), will revive the tradition with a two-day conference to help build organizational and technical capacity of the Commonwealth’s watershed organizations. Organized under the theme of “Watershed Connections: Bringing Communities Together,” sessions will emphasize ways in which watershed groups can strengthen and build special connections with their local residents and municipal leaders.
The conference is being funded via a PA DEP Growing Greener Grant and supplemented by the generous support of the PA DCNR and Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. PEC and POWR staff along with a diverse conference committee are planning a full suite of sessions and special programs we hope will capture the interest of our many community-based watershed organizations.
In addition to 28 different sessions across four themes, we are planning some great special events:
Sunday Evening, March 5 – Mix and Mingle Reception featuring “SHARK-TANK: FUNDERS EDITION”
Grant-seekers are invited to jump into the shark tank to refine their project proposals with help from our panel of “sharks” representing the Foundation for Pa Watersheds, William Penn Foundation, PA DCNR and PA DEP. Audience members will also participate by selecting the best pitch.
Monday Morning, March 6 – Coffee with DEP & DCNR
We are thrilled to welcome Acting PA DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and PA DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn to provide remarks to open our Monday program.
Monday Afternoon, March 6 – Plenary Session on Collaboration
We have a special plenary following lunch on the trending topic of watershed collaborative networks. This Plenary features panelists from the Allegheny Watershed Alliance, Pennsylvania Lake Management Society, POWR, Trout Unlimited, and the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley.
We hope you join us and fellow watershed groups from around the state on March 5-6 at the PENN STATE RAMADA CONFERENCE CENTER. For updated conference schedule, speakers, and lodging information please visit http://pecpa.org/event/watershedconnections
To be a contestant on “Shark Tank – Funders Edition,” please see the conference webpage for instructions!