I attended the 2016 Association of State Wetlands Managers workshop in Shepardstown, WV. As are most of these workshops, this one was as good an any. However, my focus this time was on what could I gleam useful for the Carolina Wetland Association. There were several very import aspects of this: the networking, relationships, and potential partnerships; and the presentations.
The very first person I saw was Erin O’Brien, the Policy Directory for the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, our mentor organization. We greeted each other like old friends. She is very excited about CarWA and very impressed about our progress in such a short time. I had lunch with her and Ester Lev the Executive Director of the Oregon Wetland Conservancy. It was a great meeting as they had lots of advice about some of my ideas and the partnerships I have been working on. They both felt that CarWA was going in the right direction with establishing partnerships, but suggested not to go to fast with firm relationships until we get our feet firmly planted. I do agree with that advice and most of the partnerships are to get know each other and to explore areas of common interest and establish the ground work for future collaboration.
I also had great conversations with Mary Kentula and Gregg Serenbetz of the EPA and they were also very excited about CarWA. I also talked quite a bit with Michael McDavit (EPA supervisor, Wetlands Division) about CarWA and how the role of such organization are becoming vital as government programs are being limited by their administrations. He also confirmed that he wants CarWA to host a session this Fall on presenting the results of the National Wetlands Condition Assessment . This event will help promote CarWA to a regional audience. I also talked with Rebecca DiIls and Myra Price both of the EPA, about potential grant opportunities and. In order to be eligible for these national grants, we need to propose a project that for more multiple regions. I have plenty of ideas about other organizations to partner with and Erin O’Brien said the Wisconsin Wetlands Association would love work with us on a joint proposal. And according to the EPA, we do not have to have our 501(c)(3) status to apply.
Jo Ann Mills, who is retired from the US FWS (and is from Apex, NC, originally), introduced herself to me and she was excited about CarWA. She introduced me to Shereen Hughes of Wetland Watch, a nonprofit from Norfolk, VA. Wetland Watch is interested in the impacts from sea level rise which is of course a very serious concern. Shereen felt that we could form a serious partnership and work on projects together on a larger scale than they were currently doing. We will talk more about this at the board meeting in May.
Finally, I met Katie Gronsky of Kearns & West, who is doing some work with the EPA on communication of science and policy to different audiences. I told her about the Duke project I was working on getting started to help us with communicating wetland values to the general public and local and state decision makers. She will be sharing some information they are producing for the EPA and would like to potentially participate in the Duke effort.
I will discuss these and opportunities at our next Board of Directors meeting on May 16!
President of the Carolina Wetlands Association