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2014 NEAEB Conference

NEAEB 2014 Reboot
Conference Announcement
38th Annual - March 26-28
Hilton – Burlington, VT

The 2014 New England Association of Environmental Biologists (NEAEB) Annual Conference is being hosted by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation with assistance from the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. When Vermont last hosted NEAEB in 2007 the focus of that meeting was to facilitate the transfer of wisdom from the retiring Legacy generation to the Next Generation. While future challenges to protecting and restoring water resources were daunting, there was a hopeful tone to the meeting. This year, Vermont hosts the meeting in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Many of both Legacy and Next Generation water resource professionals have been lost to retirements and layoffs. Slowly, a new generation of water resource professionals is being hired to tackle both the old and new challenges to achieving the goals of the Clean Water Act. This is the Reboot Generation, born two decades after the Clean Water Act. As this generation enters the workforce with little to no overlap with the Legacy and in some cases Next Generation, there is risk that history will repeat itself, not only in terms of great accomplishments but in terms of great mistakes. Hence, Vermont is again structuring the NEAEB conference in a manner to facilitate the rapid exchange of key knowledge and wisdom, in an effort to give the Reboot generation a fighting chance to tackle the diversity of challenges that land use, energy development, emerging contaminants, commercial sale of drinking water, habitat loss, climate change, and the economic importance of our aquatic resources pose to Clean Water Act goals.

To encourage this exchange of wisdom, NEAEB will offer a mix of presentation approaches and styles. Traditional 20 minute talks with 10 minutes for questions will occur during concurrent technical sessions on Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning. The Wednesday evening reception and mixer will be at the ECHO Aquarium, sponsored in part by NEAEB and the Lake Champlain Basin Program/NEIWPCC. During the reception, technical posters will be presented by all generations of water resource managers. Students will compete for an Outstanding Poster Award, with a $100 prize with many of the aquatic organisms the Clean Water Act works to protect on hand to watch!

Thursday Morning Plenary Sessions

Thursday morning will inspire us with "big picture" and technical plenary sessions. The big picture plenary will include an address by VTDEC Commissioner David Mears. At the 2007 NEAEB, Professor David Mears reinvigorated the government scientists in the audience by emphasizing that the Clean Water Act supports our science. He told us that as political pressure mounts to roll back environmental protections, the power of the Clean Water Act rests not only with the lawyers but with the scientists. At that time he was a professor of law at Vermont Law School. We will hear from him now that he has had the opportunity to directly oversee many of the very scientists he addressed in 2007. In addition, we will learn from Jon Erickson, Dean of the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School about how moving from reliance on the Gross Domestic Product to the Genuine Progress Indicator will assist our efforts to accomplish the goals of the Clean Water Act. Environmental activist and advocacy groups share the goals of the Clean Water Act, and one tool available for NGOs through the CWA is litigation against government agencies. While litigation can be effective, it also can take time and resources away from government staff working to achieve the same desired outcome. We’ll hear from one of these organizations about how we can work more collaboratively in the future to accomplish our shared goals.

The technical plenary will emphasize the role of biomonitoring in administration of the Clean Water Act goals. According to EPA's Water Standards Academy basic course, "biological monitoring is the best integrator of multiple stressors/pollutants to indicate a problem." Despite this, the use of biological monitoring to list waters as impaired has only been used in a widespread manner on wadeable streams. Jacquelyn Bacigalupi will tell us how Minnesota is on target to use fish IBIs to list lakes as impaired by 2015 and the interesting story of where the money came from to do this. We’ll also hear from Alison Mikulyuk about her efforts to include aquatic plants in assessing lake biotic condition in Wisconsin.

Thursday afternoon Plenary SLAM sessions

In 2007, Vermont used the World Café to conduct a mind meld between the Legacy and Next Generation. In 2014, we will implement a variation on that approach. Thursday afternoon will be comprised of two plenary 'Slam' sessions. Each session will consist of 10-five minute talks that when heard back to back represent a snapshot of the breadth of work involved in accomplishing the goals of the Clean Water Act. Each of the two 10-talk Slam sessions will be followed by 1 hour of informal discussion. Each presenter will host a table, and attendees will choose the speaker they wish to meet with to discuss ideas or questions their talk generated. Refreshments will be available during this hour. NEAEB organizers are looking for 20 presenters for this session that will speak to the breadth of topics NEAEB has addressed over its existence. Presenters will need to carefully prepare their talks to capture and convey the salient points of their research or topic within the 5 minute timeframe. All generations of water resource professionals are strongly encouraged to submit abstracts for the Slam session. This session is designed to give the Reboot Generation a "fire hose" style taste of the breadth and depth of the work and challenges involved in accomplishing our shared missions. It will also be an opportunity for Legacy and Next Generation staff to look on with a sense of wonder at how far we have come since NEAEB was founded in 1977. Concurrent technical sessions will be held in the traditional 20-minute presentation format Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning to provide opportunities for participants to deliver more in-depth information about their work.

Please consider submitting an abstract and tell us whether you prefer to do a traditional 20 minute talk, a poster or five minute "Slam" talk.

Information on registration costs and a draft agenda will be coming out shortly so those that need plenty of time to get travel approved will have the materials they need.

We look forward to seeing you in Burlington March 26th – 28th!

"The sole objective of the NEAEB is to provide an annual forum wherein ideas may be exchanged, projects, research, and technology may be presented or displayed, and a temporary formal gathering place provided to enhance the forward advancement of environmental protection, management and principals within the New England region (NEAEB Constitution 2004)".

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