Summary of 2018 TWS National Meeting – by Kristina Boyd
This year, at the national TWS conference in Cleveland, Ohio, I did something uncharacteristic. On the last day, I took a break and went on a field trip. We drove past the railroad bridge on the Cuyahoga River, where a spark from a passing train ignited both the polluted water and the national environmental movement. We walked through a $4 million anonymous gift to Cleveland Metro Parks: the 194 acre Valley View golf course, which is being restored to a nature reserve. And we toured the Cleveland Natural Science Club’s Look About Lodge, a tiny home version of the grand Yellowstone Lodge that I considered hiding out in for the rest of my life. But, lucky for you, an inscription was etched into a supporting beam of the lodge, “I come here often to find myself. It is so easy to get lost in the world,” and my mind’s eye refocused on the view from my own backyard. Holding back sentimental tears, I gladly hopped back on the bus and, as we drove back to the convention center, checked into my return flight home to Montana.
My flights were graciously supported by the Montana Chapter, and in exchange I represented it at various meetings throughout the conference. I attended the Section and Chapter Collaboration meeting, where we discussed ideas to solve common problems such as supporting student conclaves, increasing annual meeting relevance and attendance, and passing the torch to successive executive board members. I attended a symposium on the foundations of Student Chapter operations, and asked some very pointed questions for the Montana chapter. I also led my own symposium on alternative career paths in the wildlife profession and recruited our own Jason Hanlon to speak (he rocked it.) And I attended a symposium on moving forward from the MeToo movement, which was simultaneously somber and uplifting.
As with all conferences, there were a lot of ideas generated from the talk and excitement. For instance, to revive our own student conclaves it was suggested that we send a few Montana TWS Student Chapter leaders to an active conclave in another section. Or to create a meaningful event for public outreach outside of our annual meeting, we could host an annual Bio-Blitz. And to ensure a safe work environment, we could collaborate with the national TWS Ethnic and Gender Diversity Working Group on guidelines for initiating conversations within field crews about the complexities of social dynamics and sexual harassment. Of course ideas are one thing, and making them reality is another. For that, we need people power.
Have you had any conversations lately about what you would like to see happen in your profession? If not, come to the Montana Chapter annual meeting! I guarantee you’ll have some there. And when you’re ready to make a difference, offer yourself up to serve on a chapter or section committee, or run for a seat on the board. You have nothing to lose (well, maybe a little of your free time) and we have so much to gain (so much!) by your involvement.