Plenary Sessions - NAC22

*All programming subject to change.

Plenary Sessions

All times listed in Central Time.

Opening Plenary - Life at a Crossroads: A Natural History of Minnesota
, September 6, 2022 - 1:45pm -2:00pm

Presented by:

  • Chel Anderson, Botanist, Plant & Forest Ecologist, Author and Retired, MN Biological Survey
  • Michael Lee, Botanist & Plant Ecologist MN Biological Survey
  • Fred Harris, Botanist & Plant Ecologist, MN Biological Survey

Abstract: A Quick Tour of Minnesota‘s Natural Diversity At the intersection of the Canadian Shield and the Interior Plains, Minnesota straddles the extreme edge s of three major North American biomes: the Great Plains, the Eastern Deciduous Forest, and the Boreal Forest. Minnesota hosts a broad diversity of native landscapes, which range from open prairie grasslands in the state‘s southwest, to deciduous forests and savannas along a broad transition zone in the central and southeastern parts of the state, to the conifer-dominated boreal forest in the northeast like those found in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the most visited wilderness area in the nation. Water plays a key role in much of the state‘s biodiversity. This includes the most extensive peatlands in the continental United States, tens of thousands of freshwater lakes, a major portion of the shoreline of one of the world‘s largest lakes, Superior, and the upper reaches of one of the world‘s largest rivers, the Mississippi. Three biologists who spent decades cataloguing the state‘s natural heritage will give you an introduction to Minnesota‘s wild landscapes, with a somewhat deeper focus on the Superior Highlands, where we find ourselves gathered today.

Plenary Keynote - Reminding Ourselves and Others Why We're Doing This
, September 6, 2022 - 2:30pm - 3:15pm

Presented by: 

  • Chris Helzer, Director of Science, The Nature Conservancy, Nebraska

Abstract: Land stewardship is hard work and vastly underappreciated by most of the public - and sometimes our own supervisors. As a result, in addition to fighting climate change, invasive species, biodiversity collapses, and other spirit-crushing challenges, we also have to fight for recognition and validation. We should continue both of those fights, but we should also take time to remind ourselves why we‘re doing this work, and why it matters. The ecosystems we‘re managing contain an incredible diversity of species and astonishingly complex interactions. It‘s worth taking a few minutes to celebrate some of those. Those same species and ecosystems have depended upon thoughtful human stewardship for thousands of years. Our responsibility is to build upon the work of our predecessors and continue adapting land management strategies to meet current and future challenges. While it‘s easy to get buried in our day-to-day work, let‘s take a few minutes to highlight some reasons for optimism. Finally, let‘s talk about how to be better storytellers. We desperately need public support if we‘re going to be successful and simply badgering people with facts about carbon and clean water isn‘t going to draw them in. All of us need to share our conservation passion with others, including what we do and why we do it.

Plenary Keynote by Robin Wall Kimmerer
, September 7, 2022 - 9:00am - 10:00am

Presented by:


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.