The Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant was established in the memory of Art Latornell to help students and active members of the conservation community attend the symposium. Grants include registration for the symposium, meals and up to two nights’ accommodation at the Nottawasaga Inn.
Grants are available for students, individuals who work for, or are affiliated with, an Ontario not-for profit/community conservation organization (e.g., intern or contract employee), and people who are looking for employment in the conservation field.
Since 2002, almost 300 people have received a grant to attend the Latornell Conservation Symposium. Smera Sukumar from Ontario Nature was one of those lucky people; she received a grant last year. Smera happily agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her experience with the Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant Program.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your position at Ontario Nature?
I completed a BSc. Zoology at the University of Guelph, followed by a MSc. Biodiversity & Conservation at the University of Leeds, England. My thesis focused on foraging strategies of bats along urban waterways. My role at Ontario Nature as a Conservation Science Technician includes involvement in citizen science programs, as well as assisting with management of our nature reserves across the province.
What initially interested you in the Latornell Conservation Symposium and its grant program?
I heard it was a great event to attend to network with other environmental professionals, as well as learn about a wide variety of topics in this sector. Working for an environmental charity, opportunities for professional development are encouraged, and are made possible by grant programs like this.
After successfully applying for a grant, are there any tips or tricks for the application process that you can provide to those interested this year?
I would recommend including how you will apply what you learn from the Symposium in your job and how you can educate others in your organization, or through public outreach. With only two essay questions, you really need to make yourself stand out. Be sure to highlight how the theme of this year’s conference is applicable to your job and/or interests, referencing sessions you would like to attend.
Aside from the obvious financial perks, what benefits do you feel like you received as a grant recipient?
The grant recipients attend a wine and cheese with other recipients as well as board members of the Conservation Symposium. This is a great opportunity to network one-on-one with high ranking members of various organizations including non-profit, conservation authorities, private consultancies and the provincial and federal government.
Let’s say someone is attending the Symposium for the first time this year, how can they make the most out of their ‘Latornell experience’?
Networking can be very nerve wracking, be sure to take advantage of the ample networking opportunities offered at the Symposium! One goal I had for myself was to connect with 5 people per day. Don’t forget to network with people from a variety of sectors and different levels of experience. Peers can be valuable connections, especially when organizing events and campaigns.
Finally, how has attending the Symposium, either as a grant recipient or as a delegate, helped to further your career and/or the work of Ontario Nature?
The Symposium made me more confident with networking and helped me build the connections I have in the environmental sector today. It also exposed me to new ideas and research being done across Ontario. Various partner organizations with citizen science projects presented at the Symposium, allowing me to learn more about their work and sparked ideas of new ways we can work together in the future.
Don’t miss this excellent opportunity and apply for a grant today! We are accepting applications for the 2017 Latornell Conservation Symposium Grant Program until September 22, 2017. For information on how to apply for a grant or the program itself, visit our website: www.latornell.ca/grants.