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Braided Paths: Science, Policy, and Culture

By Melissa Mosier, Program Manager, Platte River Initiative

One of the biggest challenges in ecosystem conservation, is involving and engaging stakeholders across large geographies and ensuring the latest scientific information is widely understood and applied. This is especially true for Audubon’s Platte River Initiative, where the expanse of the Basin and the diverse assortment of ecosystems and communities that make it present hurdles to effective coordination. In an effort to breakdown some of these barriers, Audubon has teamed-up with the Nebraska Water Center and The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture in the planning of the Platte River Basin Conference.

Braided Paths: Science, Policy, and Culture

Platte River Basin Conference & 3rd Playa Research Symposium

October 24-27, 2022

Younes Conference Center

Kearney, NE

This conference will provide a forum where wildlife biologists, conservation land managers, water scientists, and academics can share their latest research and methods, but the scope of the conference has been broadened to include voices from community members that live and work along the Platte riverscape as well. The team that the Water Center put together to plan the conference includes representatives from Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and the group decided early on that the overarching purpose of the conference should be to highlight community-based solutions.

New voices and expertise will be weaved into the conference with additional speakers sharing different cultural perspectives on natural resource management, how the humanities and social sciences can make our work more meaningful to ourselves and the communities we serve, and how our work could better influence policy-making and vice versa. Reaching out beyond our typical cast of partners, the conference will hold true to its theme, “Braided Paths: Science, Policy, and Culture.”

At the conclusion of the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to take part in an interactive discussion about the future of the Platte River Basin and decide what roles they will play in shaping it. We hope that by bringing in a wider range of perspectives from throughout the Basin, especially from those whose relationship with the Platte River is more personal than research-based, we can take a moment to redesign our vision for the riverscape and ensure that our efforts going forward will bring truly meaningful benefits to the people and birds that depend on it.

Experience the Platte

Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary will also host a nature photography demonstration on the evening October 25, 2022. Special guest Joshua Redwine, a professional photographer working in Nebraska, will give a presentation at the event where he will provide hands-on tips and tricks for taking photographs of landscapes and nature.

Following Joshua’s demonstration, participants will have the opportunity to try-out their new skills on the grounds of Rowe Sanctuary at sunset, providing ideal lighting and plenty of striking views and natural objects to focus on. This event will give the conference attendees and members of the public the opportunity to see and experience the Platte River in-person, while also learning some photography skills that they can use while at Rowe, or on future nature excursions.

Tickets are open to all Platte River Basin Conference attendees and any members of the public. In addition to the nature photography demonstration, attendees will also be treated to roasted hot dogs, s’mores, and drink options. Throughout the evening attendees will have access to great views of the Platte River and nearby wetlands and grasslands, with access to the river itself, Rowe’s hiking trails, and a few of the viewing blinds that have been built along the River.

This event is intended to braid together the science, history, and community of the Platte Riverscape through the lens of photography and artistic expression. We hope that by providing an opportunity to immerse themselves in the riverine setting at Rowe Sanctuary, and by offering practical take-aways on how to improve artistic skills, the event attendees will develop a stronger personal connection to the Platte and how it connects people and wildlife across the Basin.

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