I recently attended the 2019 Canadian Herpetological Society conference and annual general meeting in Montreal. It’s a conference for reptile and amphibian researchers and conservationists – like me! – to gather together, present our work, and network with like-minded professionals across the country. We also go on a field trip near the conference location each year. This year, we visited the Centre d’exploration de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, a fantastic location where we were shown their many conservation efforts to restore habitat for reptiles and amphibians and treat injured turtles.
I’ve attended five of the previous conferences, but this year was a conference of firsts.
- I observed my first annual confidential Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada Amphibians and Reptiles Species Specialist Subcommittee meeting and learned the detailed process involved in compiling the evidence needed to recommend the listing of Species at Risk in Canada.
- I chaired my first session of talks, ensuring each presenter stayed within their unforgiving 15 minute time slot.
- I chaired my first meeting of over 30 participants, introducing people and encouraging productive discussions of frog conservation.
- For the first time, I represented a national position in my role as Reptile and Amphibian Development Coordinator with Wildlife Preservation Canada. I presented a preliminary prioritization framework to strategically assess projects to pursue based on our Conservation Action Plan, discussing priorities for Canada’s endangered reptiles and amphibians and seeking feedback from experts across Canada.
This conference reminded me that successful projects require input from many different people. Collaboration between experts, stakeholders, partners, and communities ensures successful projects are undertaken with support and clear goals. We want to strategically grow our species at risk programs for reptile and amphibians and understand that establishing priorities will allow us to effectively use our strengths to achieve multiple goals with optimal results. I look forward to many more firsts and continued conversations with people across the country.