Family reunions can be wonderfully meaningful events, especially when they don’t involve awkward conversations and mandatory group photos with your distant relatives. Last month, Save The Bay reunited with its “family” of ten community-based conservation organizations in Tampa, FL for their biennial conference. The consortium, collectively referred to as Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), was joined by hundreds of other participants from government agencies, academic institutions, consulting firms, and non-profits. Representatives from Save The Bay included David Lewis (our Executive Director), Donna Ball (Restoration Director), Laura Wainer (Senior Scientist), Dylan Chapple (a past Restoration staff now getting his PhD at UC Berkeley), and me, Seth Chanin.
Over the course of five days, conference attendees exchanged restoration strategies, community-based program structures, experimental outcomes, and educational techniques. Laura delivered a wonderful presentation on the experimental planting work we are doing at Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh, and Dylan shared the results of the work he is doing to test the use of soil amendments at Eden Landing in Hayward. I also had a chance to present at the conference, joining educators from the Galveston Bay Foundation and North Carolina Coastal Federation to teach a workshop on education program evaluation techniques.
Though the conference sessions at Restore America’s Estuaries were tremendously informative, the most valuable aspect of my time in Florida was the opportunity for networking and informal sharing of experiences. Field trips, meals, and explorations around downtown Tampa provided ample opportunity for memorable conversations with peers from other organizations, many of which have continued over email and phone.
I hope to reunite with the RAE family again in 2014!