Inspired by the National Wild Ones Conference

Heather Holm, keynote speaker, and attendees on the prairie walk

Heather Holm speaking to attendees

By Marsha Gebhardt
President, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

In mid-August I traveled to Neenah, WI (near Green Bay) for a dose of fresh inspiration and enthusiasm.

The event was the annual Wild Ones conference, held at the Wild Ones Institute of Learning and Development (WILD Center). The building and beautiful grounds serve as the permanent Wild Ones headquarters as well as a learning laboratory and model for sustainable landscaping. Spending time in that setting is part of the pleasure of attending the conference. But most of the pleasures and learning come from the people: those who work there and those who traveled from their chapters around the country.

A wealth of information and ideas came from keynote speaker, Heather Holm, and breakout speakers, but mostly through informal sharing with Wild Ones chapters’ officers and members. (I’ve found that to be true at most conferences I’ve attended.) You can purchase Holm’s book, Pollinators of Native Plants, on the Wild Ones website.

James Faupel on the prairie walk

James Faupel at the conference

Our newest St. Louis Chapter board member, James Faupel, also attended the conference. (He was a real “standout” as the tallest and youngest person in attendance.) Of course because we are one of the largest, oldest, and most active chapters, we had much to share ourselves.

The St. Louis Chapter pays for the bulk of the travel expenses for two of our members to attend the conference each year. We find that the “return on investment” is high as we receive new ideas and increased enthusiasm for the work of our chapter on behalf of our members and community. For example, last year we supplemented the travel for Wes and Carol Boshart. This year Wes is our vice-president, and he and Carol have warmly represented our chapter at many local events.

Let me know if you are interested in attending the next Wild Ones conference in August 2017. I feel sure that you will benefit, and so will our chapter and larger community.

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

News from the Newbie
By James Faupel
Member-at-Large, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter

August was a busy month. I was asked at the very beginning of August to become a board member of the Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter. After accepting and joining the board, the opportunity to go with our president Marsha Gebhardt to the Wild Ones National Conference later in the month arose. I decided that attending would be a good idea to get a better understanding of how Wild Ones works as an organization on the national scale, and how the other chapters operate. I was not let down.

I attended many workshops. Two sessions really stood out among them: One on how to grow your chapter from the very enthusiastic and inspirational Columbus Ohio Chapter president, and another on partnering with other organizations to increase chapter success presented by our outgoing national president.

People on the prairie walk

Attendees on the prairie walk

The keynote presenter, Heather Holm, was very knowledgeable and informative in her workshop and on her prairie walk. It was also very nice to just talk with other chapter members and hear what different events and programs are being successful and unsuccessful for them. Also, I learned information on:

  • Grants that can be received by chapters from national
  • How many chapters there are
  • Chapters that are forming
  • Chapter board member guidelines
  • Coalition guidelines.

Marsha and I were able to view the documentary Hometown Habitat that Wild Ones had a large part in producing. More news on a potential local screening of it to come.

All in all, I felt the conference was very informative and inspirational. I am very happy to be a part of helping our chapter grow, and learning more on how to do just that was very welcome.

2 thoughts on “Inspired by the National Wild Ones Conference

  1. Thanks Marsha and James for sharing your experience! I am looking forward to the opportunity to attend the conference in the future.

    I had the opportunity to hear Heather Holm speak at a pollinator workshop in OH a few weeks ago, and I’m envious that you got to go on a pollinator walk with her, our weather was not so good.

    Watch for a book review blog post coming up of Heather Holm’s book, it’s in the works!

  2. I have her book and I like it. One thing I learned from her book, some plants have nectar and pollen while some only have pollen.
    Thanks Marsha and James for the report. I want to see more pictures.
    And James thanks for joining our Wild Ones board.

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