PEC and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) welcomed nearly 200 attendees to the 2nd Biennial Statewide Conference for Watershed Organizations on February 24-25, 2019. Our conference was held at the new Wyndham Garden Hotel in Boalsburg PA, just outside of State College.
We kicked off the event on Sunday, February 24th with a plenary session focused on storytelling through the use of video. During this session, facilitated byRebecca Rumbel, a PSU Extension Instructional Designer, our audience viewed snippets of various short documentary movies and videos that illustrated different approaches to storytelling. During group discussions, participants were able to discuss points and take-aways that grabbed their interest and attention. The rest of the afternoon, our group headed to concurrent sessions on topics ranging from microplastics to connecting people to rivers through snorkeling.
Following our afternoon sessions, we headed into the hotel’s mountain view ballroom for our evening dinner buffet and special event: Shark Tank: Funder’s Edition. Three well-prepared contestants pitched their project ideas to our panel of “sharks” who then provided key feedback. Our sharks selected the Patriots Cove project proposal as the one that best presented the overall project need and benefits. Small gifts were awarded to each contestant. Please check out our podcast on this event.
Monday morning began with an opening program featuring special remarks by PA DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Richard Roush, Dean of Penn State’s School of Agricultural Sciences Our keynote speaker, Tora Johnson, Ph.D. provided an inspiring presentation on Engaging Communities in Conservation in a Polarized Time.
Conference attendees again had the opportunity to attend many educational and inspiring sessions during the afternoon program on Monday. Check out our podcast of the keynote and the copies of the full keynote presentation and those of other concurrent session speakers here.
We were thrilled to welcome representatives from 55 community watershed organizations, 12 county conservation districts, 8 academic or research institutions, numerous environmental non-governmental organizations and nearly 30 master watershed stewards to the 2019 conference. In addition to our lead sponsors: Pennsylvania DCNR, Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, we were fortunate to have over 10 supporting sponsors including Big Switch Erosion Control, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, American Dairy Association Northeast, Ernst Seeds, Skelly and Loy and the Pennsylvania Environmental Digest.
During the two-day conference, our attendees were able to visit exhibit tables, talk to the sponsor representatives, and exchange information and resources. Finally, we were fortunate to work with a great banquet/special event staff at the Wyndham.
We will soon be gearing up for our next round of regional workshops and planning our 2021 statewide conference. Stay tuned for more details from PEC and POWR.