I am enjoying every aspect of my position with the National Park Service, but the really cool benefit of my position is all the conferences I get to attend.  Not only am I supported in the use of my knowledge, but I am also supported in growing it! People for Pollinators Symposium, Upper St Croix Forestry Conference, 2016 St Croix Summit, etc!!! There is far more going on in these waterway communities then I can keep up with.  Every time I think I know enough about something, I end up finding out that I hardly know a thing. I highly encourage individuals to at least attend a conference a year. There is always something new progressing somewhere and conferences are the best way to get the “know-how”. There is also the added benefit of meeting people! Having connections and establishing partnerships are keys to growing the success of an organization and it all starts with you knowing someone.

My most recent adventure was attending the two day long 2016 St Croix Summit at the University of River Falls-Wisconsin last week. As a student with a minor focused on agriculture, I was able to attend several discussions revolved around the application of prairie strips on farm fields, how to engage non-operator women farmland owners in a male dominated career, and the importance of providing apprenticeship opportunities. I also learned a lot about current opportunities being provided to get youth out on water trails (especially youth growing up in urban settings) and the economic benefits of water trails and how to get the public and their leaders engaged so that communities will appreciate, value and take care of their local water trails. I definitely wanted to highlight the watershed game because it might be of use to other ambassadors since being an educator is a role in our position.

“The Watershed Game is an interactive, educational tool that helps individuals understand the connection between land use and water quality.  Participants learn how a variety of land uses impact water and natural resources, increase their knowledge of best management practices (BMPs), and learn how their choices can prevent adverse impacts.  Participants apply the tools of plans, practices, and policies that help them achieve clean water goals for protection and restoration while providing for community growth” (Source).

I also wanted to point out that there were several other subjects being highlighted such as the importance of pollinators and how you can help to save them, current prairie restoration projects, several current research projects occurring on the St Croix River and how to build partnerships to handle large scale projects like invasive species removal.  To top off the event, I got invited to the Aquatic Invaders Summit II in October and the event concluded just before the intensity of the snow storm increased.