Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium Check Up

Has it really been 20 years?
By Chris Hachey, past Chair of Latornell Symposium
The A.D. Latornell Symposium (aka ADL) will be celebrating 20 years in 2013. That takes us back to 1993…Cheers was ending after 11 great seasons on television, Jean Chr├ętien became prime minister of Canada with a massive majority, Jurassic Park was at the movies and Dyson sold the first bagless cyclonic vacuum cleaner. 

When I think back about the ADL, I remember the many fascinating key note speakers who motivated my career.  The person I remember the most was a 14 year old boy named Ryan Hrljack from Ottawa. The conference theme was “Clean Water” and we had the chance to approach many scientific and well respected speakers but we chose Ryan. As a boy at the age of 8 he raised $80 to build a well in Africa to help provide clean water. At 14, Ryan raised over $1 million dollars, traveled to Africa four times, met the Queen, the Pope, World leaders, and even appeared on Oprah twice. Ryan stood up on the ADL stage and told his story and his small part in helping to provide clean water to the people of Africa. Let me tell you, 700 people that evening didn’t learn anything new about the science of clean water. But, in the 12 years of the conference nothing since has ever moved people to stand up and applaud like they did that evening. I was inspired!   

As the ADL approaches this historic milestone there are a number of questions that we need to discuss. Does the ADL meet your needs as a conservation professional?  What is the number one reason why you attend the ADL? How important are the networking opportunities? If you could change just one thing what would that be? 

We have a special webpage set up on the Latornell Symposium’s website so you can see what we’ve accomplished over the years and provide us with your feedback and advice about moving forward.

So what’s your story? 

Chris Hachey is the Land Manager Coordinator at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority.  He was the Chair of the Latornell Symposium for two years in 2004 and 2005, as well as being an active member of the steering committee for some time before and after. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Great food and career affirmations: The musings of a Latornell Grant recipient

By Kim Ootjers, 2011 A.D. Latornell Symposium Grant recipient

Before applying for the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant I had no idea what to expect. Would this be another conference with dry, boring talks mostly irrelevant to my interests and job duties? Would there be too much free time and too little to do with it? Would any of the exhibitors have information I could use? Would the food be gross?

Thankfully, Latornell was the opposite of all these fears. From the minute I walked into the Nottawasaga Inn and checked into my room I knew I was in for an exceptional three days. There were moments of confusion – trying to get from the dining hall to my room and back down to a workshop without taking the wrong set of stairs – and moments where I was overwhelmed – walking into the exhibitors hall for the first time to swarms of participants and exhibitors exchanging information, all of which I wanted to participate in. But through all this there was the feeling of being part of a small-knit community of like-minded individuals. Whether it was eating breakfast with a Conservation Authority CAO, chatting with fellow grant recipients at a wine and cheese reception, or listening to a workshop on urbanization and aquatic ecosystems, every interaction was saturated by a desire to change, improve, and make a difference.

Latornell packs so much information into three days that there isn’t enough time to truly absorb and embrace it all. Each workshop period gave seven options, and I was always extremely excited about at least three, and disappointed that I couldn’t attend them all. The keynote speakers provided inspiration, amusement and interesting meal-time dialogue, while the exhibitors displayed a wide variety of information relevant to the diverse crowd gathered in the hall.

Like the conference itself, the grant application process was well run and straightforward. Although I wasn’t sure how stiff the competition was, I spent a long time crafting my application answers to ensure that the organizers knew just how much I would benefit from this experience.  However, the effort more than paid off for the experience I received. The people I met, the presentations I heard and the discussions I had resulted in me having a much greater appreciation for how broad and far-reaching conservation efforts are. Beyond that it confirmed for me that the career path I’m on is exactly the one I want to be on.

If you are debating whether or not to apply for the grant, apply. Opportunities to attend a Symposium like this are few and far between and the benefits you receive from the experience are above and beyond what you will expect. And just wait until you see what they serve for lunch…

Kim Ootjers is  a Natural Heritage Technician at Conservation Halton and a 2011 A.D Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant recipient.