Conservation partners from the 49 state affiliates of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) met in Baltimore last week to hear and learn from each other's efforts to protect and improve our blue planet. This year’s conference theme was WATER: It Connects Us All.
As the host affiliate for the state of Maryland, the National Aquarium not only helped steer some of the conversation, we also had a chance to display some of our aquatic conservation initiatives to a national audience.
Highlights of the conference included:
- Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, addressed the audience during the Opening Session and spoke about government transparency and the critical importance of public participation in the federal regulation and rule-making processes
- Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, spoke about the explicit need for individuals and communities to create a groundswell of positive change to both hold the public sector accountable and support and reinforce good work
- Conservation organizations from across the country shared innovative ideas on improving both water quality and water quantity in local and regional jurisdictions, and managing invasive species in our ecosystems
- Conservation policy resolutions were passed that would help provide the future framework for NWF work. These included initiatives focused on alternative energy, deforestation, invasive species, fisheries management and climate change
- George Hawkins, General Manager of DC Water spoke about “making our cities work” and improving urban infrastructure to help relieve development pressure put on rural landscapes
As the local sponsor, National Aquarium had a chance to highlight healthy aquatic communities around the world by inviting meeting participants into our Baltimore venue for an evening. We were also able to show our partners our successful education and stewardship work at both Fort McHenry and Masonville Cove through off-site field trips.
Aquarium staff also shared our expertise in climate change communication and social media strategies to build the capacity of other organizations in those areas!
At the end of the meeting, participants had an opportunity to hear from Collin O’Mara, NWF’s newly appointed President and CEO. He left us with the following charge: "Confronting the pressing conservation challenges of this generation will require that Americans from every corner of our nation and every walk of life work together community by community and state by state to drive change at the national and international level." We couldn’t agree more.