March 2: Longwood Graduate Program Symposium

January 4, 2012 under CANR News, Events

The University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture will host its annual symposium on Friday, March 2 at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa.

The symposium, “The Panda and the Public Garden: Reimagining Our Conservation Story,” will bring together the best of zoo and garden expertise to discover how public gardens and other institutions can inspire their audiences to care and advocate for conservation.

Designed for the professional staff of public gardens, conservation-oriented organizations, and cultural institutions, the symposium will take place in Longwood Gardens’ spectacular Ballroom starting at 8 a.m. Registration for the daylong event is $75 for professionals, and $55.00 for full-time students.

For more information and to register online, visit the Longwood Graduate Program website or call the program office at 302-831-2517.

Symposium highlights

Jerry Borin, former executive director of Columbus Zoo, will discuss how to gain a mass media audience for conservation, drawing on both his experience at Columbus Zoo and that of his protégé, Jack Hanna, through national television exposure.

John Gwynne, emeritus chief creative officer and vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, will speak on inspiring conservation through effective message design, based on his twenty years of creative leadership at the Bronx Zoo, and its direct link to conservation projects and expertise in developing nations.

Alistair Griffiths, curator (horticultural science) of the Eden Project in the United Kingdom, will address how to have a conservation message as the organizing principle in the life of a garden, from concept to realization. He will also present a case study on species conservation from discovery to commercialization.

Catherine Hubbard, director of the ABQ Biopark, N.M., will offer a wide range of current best practices for communicating with the public in zoos, aquariums, and gardens, with practical applications for organizations of varying sizes and missions.

Kathy Wagner, consultant and former vice president for conservation and education at the Philadelphia Zoo, will stimulate thinking about message relevance and effective evaluation techniques for measuring impact.

This year’s event includes a special new session featuring two speakers who will share their insights on the impact of storytelling and environmental psychology in communication for conservation. Sally O’Byrne, teacher and naturalist at the Delaware Nature Society, will share the practical art of storytelling. Andrew Losowsky, books editor at the Huffington Post, will address the nature and mechanics of a good story.

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Conservationists model smart shopping, save big

February 3, 2010 under CANR News

If there was ever a time for conservationists to shop smart, this is it. Across America, states confront budget shortfalls — a grim cycle of cuts, followed by more cuts that the Pew Center on States refers to as “fiscal crisis.” Tough choices confront land conservationists, who shop the American landscape with big ambitions but slim wallets.

That’s why an emerging economics tool is so timely. Researchers at the University of Delaware and The Conservation Fund have designed a computer based decision making tool that is helping conservationists get more bang for their buck — by evaluating potential conservation projects for best dollar value. With this new tool, government leaders can comparison-shop projects like never before.

“We all want the most bang for our buck, and conservation is no different,” says Will Allen, director of strategic conservation at The Conservation Fund, a leading environmental nonprofit. “Are you spending too much money on expensive projects — what some call budget sponges — or are you getting real value? With public budgets so tight, government officials must be able to justify how they’re spending these dollars wisely.”

Until now, conservation organizations have chosen which lands to conserve based primarily on land benefits. Their goal is to save high-priority land that’s valued for agriculture, perhaps, or open space and wildlife habitat. But Baltimore County, Md., has a better way, using optimization techniques developed by UD’s Kent Messer, an economist in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Allen.

According to Messer, optimization strategy, first used by the military during World War II, is gaining new ground in the conservation world. He says it would have once taken a supercomputer to run these calculations. But thanks to evolving technology, people can now run optimization analysis quickly for fields like conservation, which has largely operated more on a wish-list level.

Messer compares buying land to buying wine — choosing well means recognizing good value when you see it.

Messer and Allen have developed and applied a computer model to “optimize” conservation decisions. The model turns raw data about conservation decisions — project costs, benefits (scored numerically), budget constraints — into a user-friendly spreadsheet yielding comparison shopping conclusions.

Using the model, for example, a government agency can quickly compare the relative value of all possible projects — and then make, and justify, an informed choice.

The Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Program in Maryland has one of the nation’s most well-established farmland preservation efforts. Every year since 2007, Baltimore County has tapped an optimization model to choose which agricultural lands to save with impressive results.

Over the past three years, Baltimore County staff estimate that optimization has helped the county protect an additional 680 acres of high-quality agricultural land at a cost savings of roughly $5.4 million compared to the class conservation decisions tools. This amounts to a return on investment of more than 60 to 1. In other words, for every dollar that Baltimore County spent using its optimization model, it has gained more than $60 in conservation benefits.

“This work is especially important in these times of constrained budgets. Making our money go as far as possible is a good thing,” says Michael McGrath, chief of planning for the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA). Messer used data provided by the DDA for some of his initial research related to optimization. He and McGrath continue to look for ways that UD and DDA can use these techniques in Delaware.

McGrath says, “Dr. Messer’s current work in Baltimore County provides important substantiation of his techniques in optimization. These techniques have applicability in Delaware and all across the U.S. in optimizing farmland preservation easement negotiations.”

Read the article here on UDaily.

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New Castle County Master Gardeners Announce Keep it Green 2010

January 14, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Keep it Green 2010

Join us in the third season of this popular series. Learn easy techniques to GREEN your backyard.
Discover simple ways to improve and maintain your SOIL.
Learn how to select beautiful, low-maintenance NATIVE PLANTS.
Adapt new methods of WATER CONSERVATION.
Learn how to create a BACKYARD WILDLIFE HABITAT.

Dates: Tuesdays, January 26, February 2, 9, & 16
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location: NCC Extension Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Room 132A, Newark, Delaware 19716
Registration Fee: $45.00 for all four sessions

Class size is limited to 40 participants. Register early with payment to reserve your place in this popular class!

Visit the New Castle County Master Gardeners website for more information.

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