Gathering Partners conference brings people and programs together

Packing handout bags at the Gathering Partners of Natural Resources conference 2017

In a large conference center dining room, lunch has ended and people in the crowd are shouting names of Minnesota cities. “Mankato!” “Duluth!” “Bemidji!” Extension Educator Amy Rager gives them a hint. “It’s north of Highway 10 on a lake…”

“Brainerd!” a voice yells from the back.

And with that guess, the next location for the annual Gathering Partners of Natural Resources conference is officially announced. The room erupts with clapping and cheers–it’s a great way to cap off this year’s 3 day gathering, jointly hosted by the Extension Forestry and Master Naturalist programs.

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Over 275 people made their way from all corners of the state for this annual affair, held May 19-21 on the St. Paul Campus. Registrants had their choice of over 50 field trips, walking tours, and sessions on topics ranging from bees to trees. Being on campus had its perks, and lucky attendees were able to get a sneak peek into the new Bell Museum, check out the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center lab, and hear keynotes from President Eric Kaler and the Bell Museum’s Interim Scientific Director George Weiblen.

Every year, the conference offers us plenty of opportunities to recognize the great work being done by Minnesotans. Extension Forestry kicked off the 2nd cohort of our new Master Woodland Owner program, focused on family forest owners living in the Metro area. New members were able to meet for a day, learn about the last cohort, and ask questions of our assembled experts. We were also able to give recognition to our Big Woods, Big River cohort graduates, and our friends in the Master Naturalist program handed out service awards to their members for their tremendous volunteer efforts.

Attendees had many great things to say about the sessions, social activities, and opportunity to network and learn more about Minnesota’s natural resources. There’s a lot of excitement for next year’s conference, and everyone is warmly invited to join us at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake, whether as session leaders or attendees! We may have just finished this get-together, but planning has already started for next year. Watch the blog for more information as we work to create another great conference!

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Featured image courtesy of Eli Sagor via Flickr.

Emily Dombeck
Emily is the UMN Extension Forestry Program Coordinator.

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