Conferencing in chilly Cleveland

In January 2019, Adopt-A-Pond’s Katherine Wright and Crystal Robertson had the pleasure of attending the 79th Midwest Fish and Wildlife conference in Cleveland, Ohio. This conference brings together fish and wildlife managers, graduate students, and a variety of public agencies involved in natural resources for three days of symposium presentations.

A view of Lake Erie in Cleveland and the Massasauga symposium schedule

Day one included a full day symposium on Massasaugas, during which Crystal shared an overview of our landowner engagement program for people who have Massasaugas on their properties. This symposium also provided insight about many of the at risk populations of Massasauga in the United States and the efforts underway to protect them. Updates on various long-term population surveys provided information on the recovery of the species and its current conservation challenges, such as roads fragmenting habitats and the impacts of Snake Fungal Disease.


Crystal presenting on our Massasauga stewardship

Day two started off with sessions about restoration techniques and projects throughout the Midwest, including some fascinating content on restoring agricultural landscapes to wetland and forest. Katherine provided an update on our Blanding’s turtle head-starting project as part of the turtle session in the afternoon. We were lucky enough to be presenting alongside a US based Blanding’s turtle head-starting program, providing an interesting perspective on differing challenges and opportunities from both projects.

turtle talk

Katherine presenting on our Blanding’s turtle head-starting project

The conference wrapped up with a poster session where we once again brought our Blanding’s turtle project to the forefront by presenting the entire overview of the project, from conception through to execution. We engaged with many colleagues interested in learning more about head-starting and whether or not it could work to overcome the turtle conservation challenges in their region.


Crystal and Katherine at the poster session

During the snowy drive back to Toronto, we reflected on the many connections we had made and the opportunities to integrate some new knowledge into our current conservation projects. The supportive feedback from colleagues about our efforts to help conserve the Massasauga and Blanding’s turtle here in Ontario has been welcome fuel to get us through the rest of the cold winter, and excited to once again embark on an adventurous field season!

The snowy journey home

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