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2017 Summit Program

Keynote address: Dr. Eric Chivian - "Medical Models for Helping Us Understand Global Environmental Threats"

Dr. Eric Chivian is Director of The Program on Preserving the Natural World and the Founder and former Director (for over 16 years) of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, at Harvard Medical School. The Center is now based at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 1980, he and three colleagues founded the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

During the past 25 years, he has worked to involve physicians in the United States and abroad in efforts to protect the environment, and to increase public understanding of the potential human health consequences of global environmental change.

Dr. Chivian’s presentation will discuss why it is so difficult for many people to see global environmental changes, and to grasp the significance of these changes for human life. The answers are many and complex, but involve, in part, the fact that our brains are wired to see what is happening right in front of us right now—we do not do very well with seeing things that are not obvious, that happen incrementally, or that occur over large areas or in other parts of the world. “The failure of humanity to grasp what we are doing to global physical, chemical, and biological systems is the greatest problem in the history of our species on this small planet.”

Dr. Chivian will talk about how a medical model can help people understand the implications of our altering the global environment--by translating the abstract, technical science of these changes into the concrete, personal, everyday language of human health that people can relate to and understand.

For the complete summit schedule see the full summit program (pdf)

Session 1 Workshops: 10:20 – 11:30 am

Click on the name of the workshop to see a description of the workshop above the table.

1-A. Biodiversity, Climate Change, Human Health: Continuing the Dialogue

Eric Chivian M.D. Keynote Speaker - The Program for Preserving the Natural World; Founder & Past Director, Center for Health & the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School

Join Dr. Chivian for an informal discussion that continues the dialogue from his keynote presentation. Bring your questions. We will cover the intersection of climate change, biodiversity loss, and human health. What are the opportunities for using a medical perspective to help people to relate to, and take actions to address, global environmental change?

1-B. Taking Learning Outdoors

Andrea Stein - Roger Williams Park Zoo

April Alix - Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership

Learn how your properties and waterways can be used as an extension of a classroom. Outdoor education supports and reinforces multi-disciplinary and hands-on learning opportunities while also helping to promote healthy lifestyles, conservation behaviors, and environmental literacy. Educators can engage students in real-time scientific research, applying map skills, using nature as a stimulus for writing and art, and much more. Participants will gain an understanding of the benefits of outdoor education and leave with a variety of resources to begin to engage educators on their land.

1-C. Salt Marsh Migration – Challenges, Partnerships and Next Steps

Wenley Ferguson - Save The Bay

Caitlin Chaffee - Coastal Resources Management Council

For the past couple of decades, sea level rise has outpaced salt marsh accretion rates and throughout Rhode Island, salt marshes are beginning to drown in place. Some marshes can migrate inland as waters rise and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and its partners have developed Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) Maps for the coastal wetlands of all 21 Rhode Island coastal communities. This workshop will describe the challenges facing our critical salt marsh ecosystems and projects underway to help marshes adapt and enhance marsh migration corridors. Participants will explore how advocacy and land conservation can help ensure the protection of the state’s optimal marsh migration sites.

1-D. Promoting Green Infrastructure Stormwater Solutions

John Berard - Clean Water Action

Amelia Rose - Groundwork Rhode Island

Green infrastructure is an approach to managing stormwater by infiltrating it into the ground where it is generated using vegetation or porous surfaces or by capturing it for later reuse. Green infrastructure does more than clean polluted runoff, it also increases community resilience to climate change by reducing heat and promoting cooling, providing natural habitat areas and promoting human health. Green infrastructure projects also provide opportunities for good local jobs. This workshop will provide an overview of the work of the Green Infrastructure Coalition, a group of over 30 organizations working together to promote green infrastructure in urban communities while building a skilled local workforce.

1-E. New Land Management Tools – Technology At Your Fingertips!

Maria Mack - RI State Conservation Committee

James Turenne - Natural Resource Conservation Service

J. Eric Scherer - RI State Conservation Committee

Critical soil information has always been difficult to obtain. This workshop will introduce the web soil survey – soil information in a searchable Google map format that can be easily accessed via the internet. Participants will learn how to interpret and use soil data when reviewing development proposals or considering strategies for land protection and stewardship. The workshop will also introduce recent updates to the RI Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook.

1-F. Land Protection 101 -  Forging Agreements for Lasting Relationships

Brian Janes - Tiverton Open Space Commission

John Berg - The Nature Conservancy

Do you have some land protection projects on the horizon? Wonder about the best way to decide what land to protect? Outright or Conservation Easement? How to approach owners? Secure funding? Obtain land gifts? Prepare yourself and the land owner for a process that may extend for years? Establish relationships that extend beyond the deal and into stewardship? Attend this session to learn the ins and outs of this sometime complicated process from these two experienced land conservation partners. They will assist you to strategically plan a successful transaction to fulfill your goals. This will be an interactive discussion so bring your questions and ideas.

1-G. Where is the Money?  The 2017 Funders Panel

Judith Swift - URI Coastal Institute, Moderator

Keith Lang - The Champlain Foundations

Jenny Pereira - The Rhode Island Foundation

Lisa Primiano - RI Department of Environmental Management

Sue Kiernan - RI Department of Environmental Management

An overview of funding available from The Champlain Foundations, Rhode Island Foundation, RI Trails Grants as well as RI Department of Environment Management (RIDEM) bond funded programs (Local Open Space Grants, Local Recreation Grants, stormwater and flooding).

1-H. Understanding and Improving Pollinator Health: Recommendations from RI’s Pollinator Working Group

Shannon Brawley - Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association

David Gregg - Rhode Island Natural History Survey

In 2016, the RI House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to convene a working group to “make findings and recommendations with regard to maintaining, protecting and enhancing pollinator habitat and health in RI.” DEM Director Coit appointed a diverse group including representatives from the Environment Council of RI, RI Farm Bureau, URI Plant Science Department, RI Beekeepers Association, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, RI Natural History Survey, Kaiser Tree Preservation & Lawn Dawg. The group has been working hard since September 2016 and produced a report to the legislature in February. The workshop will review the group’s shared learning, recommendations and next steps.

1-I. Managing Small Greenspaces in Urban Areas

Helene Miller - Providence Partnership for Parks

David Westcott - North Providence Planning Department

Protecting undeveloped lots in urban areas can create important green spaces for a community. Yet the management of these places so that they can be more inviting and usable green spaces can be challenging and cause a lot of controversy with neighbors. How do you get the community to help steward these places? This workshop will discuss strategies for involving the community and building community support for management of small urban green spaces so that the community can use and enjoy them. We’ll share some stories and experiences from Providence and North Providence.

1-J. Five Fresh Ideas for Building the Board You Need

David Allen - Development for Conservation

“The first criterion used for considering a new board member is often ‘known to someone on the current board.’ I think it should be ‘totally in love with the mission,’ instead.” Thus begins an engaging workshop session where we examine every step of the board experience and explore succession planning and leadership development from the inside out. This workshop will present five fresh ideas for identifying, recruiting, training, and empowering the board you need – both now and into the future.

1-K. Building Relationships with Elected Officials

Walter Burke - Bristol Parks, Recreation and Environment; and RI Recreation & Parks Association

Representative Ken Marshall - Rhode Island General Assembly

Your organization’s relationship with your town council members, state representatives and senators and even US Senators and Representative can have a huge impact on your ability to get political support, community support, attract funding and implement projects that accomplish your mission. This workshop will share lessons learned about how to cultivate these relationships, avoid the pitfalls, and build the political support your organization needs to be successful.

1-A. Biodiversity, Climate Change, Human Health: Continuing the Dialogue
1-B. Taking Learning Outdoors
1-C. Salt Marsh Migration – Challenges, Partnerships and Next Steps
1-D. Promoting Green Infrastructure Stormwater Solutions
1-E. New Land Management Tools – Technology At Your Fingertips!
1-F. Land Protection 101 -  Forging Agreements for Lasting Relationships
1-G. Where is the Money?  The 2017 Funders Panel
1-H. Understanding and Improving Pollinator Health: Recommendations from RI’s Pollinator Working Group
1-I. Managing Small Greenspaces in Urban Areas
1-J. Five Fresh Ideas for Building the Board You Need
1-K. Building Relationships with Elected Officials

Session 2 Workshops: 11:45 am – 12:55 pm

Click on the name of the workshop to see a description of the workshop above the table.

2-A. Helping Municipalities with Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Teresa Crean - URI Coastal Resources Center

Tom Ardito - Aquidneck Island Planning Commission

Cities and towns are at the front lines as Rhode Island adapts to rising seas, more intense storms, and increasing temperatures. Municipalities all have limited resources and many competing priorities, yet climate adaptation and mitigation must be addressed. The session will use Rhode Island case studies to describe the best practices for communicating with local officials about climate science, strategies for engaging local decision makers in planning for adaptation and how to move municipalities towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions (climate mitigation).

2-B. Family Hikes (and Why They’re Different from Other Hikes)

Jeanine Silversmith - RI Families in Nature; South Kingstown Land Trust; and RI Environmental Education Association

The family hike can be a wonderful addition to your programming—but only if children’s particular needs and interests are kept in mind. Whether or not your organization has any experience leading family programs, this workshop will help you plan and successfully carry out hikes for all ages. Participants will leave with tips and tricks to keep children motivated and cheerful along the trails.

2-C. Developing Solar & Wind Energy: Legal Considerations & Best Practices

Max Greene - Conservation Law Foundation

Sumana Chintapalli - Conservation Law Foundation

Rhode Island is densely developed, its land is expensive and the state has lost over 80% of its farmland since 1940. Farmers and farmland-owners can offset their costs by installing solar panels or wind turbines on their land. This practice has the added benefit of avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions from reliance on fossil-fuel-derived power. But the state laws governing the economics of on-farm renewables are not necessarily clear to non-lawyers, and unless farmland-owners are thoughtful about how they install these projects, we all run the risk of losing open space and good soil to power generation. This workshop will explain the laws relating to on-farm renewables and some best practices that farmland-owners should employ when considering installing renewable-energy projects on their land.

2-D. Financing Stormwater Management and Incentivizing Green Infrastructure

Sheila Dormody - The Nature Conservancy

Fred Presley - Town of West Warwick

The Rhode Island Stormwater Management and Utility District Act of 2002 (SMD Act) authorizes municipalities to create Stormwater Management Districts (SMDs) to finance stormwater remediation. To date, several municipalities are working on developing SMDs but no municipality has completed implementation. This workshop will review SMDs as a tool for financing stormwater management, describe implementation by RI municipalities and showcase how a properly designed SMD incentivizes nature based stormwater solutions, or green infrastructure.

2-E. Harmful Algal Blooms in Rhode Island Waters

Cindy Hannus - RI Department of Environmental Management

David Borkman - RI Department of Environmental Management

Brian Zalewsky - RI Department of Environmental Management

Algae are an important part of our freshwater and saltwater ecosystems but throughout the country, waters are experiencing harmful algal blooms. In 2016, ponds in Portsmouth, Newport, Providence and Warwick experienced harmful algal blooms (HAB). During October 2016, Narragansett Bay was closed to shellfish harvesting due to an unprecedented HAB event. This session will review the science behind the blooms and management strategies for community response.

2-F. Giving Yourself An Out - Knowing When To Say “No!”

Reggie Hall - The Conservation Fund

In the exuberance of completing projects, it is easy to say “Yes!” to a project that perhaps the organization should say “No!” to. Maybe you said “Yes!” to a great project, but at some point along the line, negotiations took a turn, and the project wound up being not as strong as it should or could be. How do you avoid these pitfalls? This interactive session will help participants Identify sound project selection criteria that help you know when to say yes but more importantly know when to say no. It will discuss key parts of the acquisition process that may have significant implications on the permanence when you are deciding to protect a property.

2-G. Federal Funding Opportunities for Farmland and Wetland Conservation

Chris Modisett - Natural Resource Conservation Service

Leo Smock Randall - Natural Resource Conservation Service

Learn more about USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) wide variety a programs and funding that are available to assist a landowner with the conservation and stewardship of their land. This assistance could include preparing, revising or updating a forest management plan, invasive plant control, wildlife habitat enhancement, forest stand improvement, hayland and pasture management, riparian forest buffer management, and pollinator habitat establishment, among others.

2-H. Practices for Enhancing Pollinator Habitat: Tools for a Broad Range of Landowners

Scott Ruhren - Audubon Society of Rhode Island

Gary Casabona - Natural Resource Conservation Service

There is worldwide concern about declining pollinators. We all can play a role in protecting and creating successful habitats – at our homes, farms and on land protected for conservation. This workshop will review successful practices for creating pollinator habitats and funding available from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

2-I. Save Effort and Heartache over Invasive Species with Early Detection & Rational Response

David Gregg - RI Natural History Survey

After development and climate change, invasive species are cited as the biggest threat to conservation of species and natural communities. But you could quickly become discouraged by a seemingly endless battle against invasive heavy-weights such as bittersweet or barberry. In this session we'll look at other ways to manage invasive species on your property from the search for new colonizers to strategies for prioritizing your limited invasive management resources. We'll talk about new invaders coming to Rhode Island because of climate change. Some plant and insect ID will be included but the emphasis will be on strategies for surveillance, response, and adaptation.

2-J. Leading Your Board to Excellence

Gayle Gifford - Cause and Effect

Board leaders — whether officers, committee chairs or leaders from the middle — are critical to the quality of the board experience. Come discuss the skills and practices of leadership that will greatly improve your board. We’ll explore the characteristics of excellent leaders, how to build a leader-filled board, job right-sizing, partnership with the Executive Director, the latest research and promising practices for improving the impact of your board.

2-K. Engaging Youth in Your Conservation Organization

Brendan Haggerty - The Green School

Maggie Krueger - Southside Community Land Trust

Alyssa Rooks - Southside Community Land Trust

The membership and leadership of Rhode Island’s conservation organizations, like our peers across the nation, is aging. Conservation organizations struggle to attract and engage younger members. At the same time, most high-school and college students and recent graduates care deeply about protecting our environment. This workshop will discuss how your conservation organization can engage high school and college students as members and active volunteers.

2-A. Helping Municipalities with Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
2-B. Family Hikes (and Why They’re Different from Other Hikes)
2-C. Developing Solar & Wind Energy: Legal Considerations & Best Practices
2-D. Financing Stormwater Management and Incentivizing Green Infrastructure
2-E. Harmful Algal Blooms in Rhode Island Waters
2-F. Giving Yourself An Out - Knowing When To Say “No!”
2-G. Federal Funding Opportunities for Farmland and Wetland Conservation
2-H. Practices for Enhancing Pollinator Habitat: Tools for a Broad Range of Landowners
2-I. Save Effort and Heartache over Invasive Species with Early Detection & Rational Response
2-J. Leading Your Board to Excellence
2-K. Engaging Youth in Your Conservation Organization

Session 3 Workshops: 2:45 am – 4:00 pm

Click on the name of the workshop to see a description of the workshop above the table.

3-A. Managing Natural Areas for Resilience to Climate Change: Lessons From the Napatree Point Demonstration Project

Charles Roman - URI Coastal Institute

Janice Sassi - Watch Hill Conservancy & Watch Hill Fire District

Peter August - University of Rhode Island

Bryan Oakley - Eastern Connecticut State University

The URI Coastal Institute is collaborating with partners on three demonstration sites to exemplify best management practices for enhancing ecosystem and community resilience to the impacts of climate change. The purpose is to provide state, city, and town governments, planners and policymakers, businesses, homeowners and landowners, and others with a suite of options that could be considered to adapt to storm surge, flooding, sea-level rise, and other climate change factors. One demonstration site, the Napatree Point Conservation Area in Watch Hill has been actively involved in stewardship to promote ecosystem resilience for the past five years. This workshop will review the management challenges at Napatree and the best practices identified for managing a fragile natural area that is heavily used by visitors and is vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and storms.

3-B. Creating Temporary Outdoor Play Spaces

Samantha Polon - Roger Williams Park Zoo

Explore the importance of creating spaces for free, unstructured outdoor play. Learn about the importance of play for children‘s development, how to use and create “loose parts” and how to inspire conservation behaviors through a closeness to the natural world.

3-C. Using Aerial Views of Rhode Island: From Satellites to Drones

Greg Bonynge - University of Rhode Island

There’s a wide variety of aerial images of Rhode Island readily available online in just a few mouse clicks. During the first half of this workshop, you will be guided on a tour through some of these free online resources, and given an overview of how to create your own custom maps using these images with ArcGIS Online. This will be followed by suggestions for organizations that may be considering the use of drones to collect aerial photographs as part of their routine monitoring plans.

3-D. Using Land Protection Tools to Protect Watersheds

Chuck Allott - Aquidneck Island Land Trust

Land trusts have a suite of tools for protecting and enhancing water quality because the best way to protect water quality is to protect land and limit development in the watershed. The highly developed landscape with significant impervious cover contributes to water quality impairments on Aquidneck Island. The Aquidneck Island Land Trust is exploring how conservation easements and land stewardship programs can improve riparian buffers and reduce stormwater pollution in the Maidford and Bailey’s Brook watersheds. This workshop will review lessons learned that can be applied to other watersheds in Rhode Island.

3-E. How to Recognize Invasive Freshwater Aquatic Plants and Prevent Their Spread in Rhode Island

Judy Colaluca - Save The Lakes

Hope Leeson - RI Natural History Survey

Aquatic invasive plants are a problem in many of Rhode Island’s lakes and other freshwater systems. Invasive plants have fewer natural predators and can outcompete native plants. Invasive plant infestations reduce the biodiversity of the river or lake, reduce water quality and native habitat availability for fish and wildlife and can also impede swimming, boating, and fishing activities. Participants will learn how to identify the common aquatic invasive plants and learn about volunteer opportunities with the GREAT Boater Program to promote boat hygiene throughout the state to limit the introduction and spread of invasive plants.

3-F. Rare Species Management in Rhode Island: Getting the Information You Need

David Gregg - Rhode Island Natural History Survey

The identification and management of rare species has been a central conservation strategy in the United States Since the 1970’s. Rhode Island’s rare species or “natural heritage” program was established in law in 1978. The location of rare species, their habitat requirements, and viability of and threats to populations are all valuable for efficient, effective conservation. Information on rare species is a standard part of environmental permitting, land management plans, and open space grant applications. In this workshop, learn what data are available and from whom; what the limits are on data completeness, accuracy, and availability and how can you work around them; and how you can collect and contribute information to help round out and maintain the state’s rare species lists and data files.

3-G. Fundraising That Matters - Major Gift Development for the Small Nonprofit Organization

David Allen - Development for Conservation

Effective, sustainable, built-for-the-long-haul organizations should be continually engaged in annual gift, major gift, and planned gift development activities, yet grant-writing, event management, and membership systems often seem more urgent and time intensive. As a result, major gift fundraising – building and sustaining relationships with individual donors – is too often left undone. This workshop will be a fast-paced, crash course in all things “major gifts.” We’ll look at motivations behind major gift decisions, where major gift development should fit in a well-rounded fundraising program, how to find major gift prospects, how to think creatively about and plan for cultivation activities, and the differing roles of staff and Board. This workshop is for both fund development staff and Board volunteers and is appropriate for all levels of fundraising experience.

3-H. Federal Funding Opportunities and Technical Assistance for the Stewardship of Your Lands

Brunilda Velez - Natural Resource Conservation Service

Joe Bachand - Natural Resource Conservation Service

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offers easement programs to eligible landowners to: conserve working agricultural lands, grasslands and forestlands (Agricultural Land Easements - ALE); and protect, enhance and restore wetlands (Wetland Reserve Program - WRP). This workshop will discuss opportunities to partner with NRCS to obtain technical and financial assistance to purchase these easements.

3-I. Managing an Effective Volunteer-based Stewardship and Monitoring Program

Becca Washburn - Land Trust Alliance

Monitoring protected land is fun and it is an important land trust responsibility. How can your land trust prepare and manage volunteers for monitoring and stewardship? This highly interactive workshop will offer tips and tricks for recruiting, training, engaging, rewarding, and retaining volunteer monitors. Bring your ideas and best practices to share. Participants will receive access to numerous digital copies of example documents.

3-J. How to Run a Better Board Meeting

Jennifer West - Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Reserve

Imagine a world where all board meetings are effective, collaborative, and productive! This session will provide the basics of conducting meetings that enhance problem solving and minimize conflict. You will learn fundamental facilitation skills and tools as well as what motivates disruptive behaviors in meetings and how they may be managed.

3-K. Do Less Better: Using Social Media to Engage Constituents

Cindy Sabato - Save The Bay

Organizations vying for attention need to embrace social media. But being active on Facebook and Instagram and tweeting regularly take time and can feel like distractions from the important work of your group. This workshop will review how social media can be an integral part of your communications and marketing effort without wearing you out. Cindy will give a primer on how social media networks can enhance your overall communications efforts, and will review best practices, hashtags, boosted posts, metrics and use of social media for customer service, brand awareness, and fundraising in a presentation tailored for small and all-volunteer conservation organizations.

3-A. Managing Natural Areas for Resilience to Climate Change: Lessons From the Napatree Point Demonstration Project
3-B. Creating Temporary Outdoor Play Spaces
3-C. Using Aerial Views of Rhode Island: From Satellites to Drones
3-D. Using Land Protection Tools to Protect Watersheds
3-E. How to Recognize Invasive Freshwater Aquatic Plants and Prevent Their Spread in Rhode Island
3-F. Rare Species Management in Rhode Island: Getting the Information You Need
3-G. Fundraising That Matters - Major Gift Development for the Small Nonprofit Organization
3-H. Federal Funding Opportunities and Technical Assistance for the Stewardship of Your Lands
3-I. Managing an Effective Volunteer-based Stewardship and Monitoring Program
3-J. How to Run a Better Board Meeting
3-K. Do Less Better: Using Social Media to Engage Constituents

Download a pdf of the full program with workshop descriptions

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