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  • Writer's pictureKriss Marion

Time for Summer Conservation Camp Webinars!

Spring has barely sprung across Wisconsin and we're already on a huge high from last Friday's WiWiC Educator Network Spring Conference. We can't wait to tell you all about it! But first we want to encourage you to think Summer and sign up for the amazing series of Summer Conservation Camp lunch webinars we have planned for 2023. This year's theme is Critters of Conservation and we can't wait to get down and dirty with the unhuggables, icky stickies and creepy crawlies that make our fields buzz and hiss and flap with life.

Nothing has been more popular in our 2-plus years of programming than these Summer Camp webinars where we bring conservation professionals and experienced landowners together on virtual panels to discuss the topics you've asked us for in surveys. We've talked grazing, we've talked land trusts, we've talked forestry, we've talked prairies and we've talked pollinators. But we've never explored in depth the other critters that benefit from and aid in our conservation efforts. So we're really excited to bring you some of the state's top experts in birds, beetles, bugs, snakes, turtles and bats, O MY! We'll convene for lunch zooms every fourth Thursday of the month May through August and each session will feature an expert in the field and an experienced citizen scientist.

Registration is open for all of these webinars now, and when you register, you'll also receive the recording afterward. We find ourselves going back to these topical recordings again and again as we work toward our conservation goals and you can find them all archived in the Blog section of our website. Get more information or RSVP for free by clicking on the graphics, or go to our Events page.

May 18; 12-1 pm

Creating a Habitat for Birds

Women Championing Feathered Friends

Our first webinar, Creating a Habitat for Birds, coincides with world Migratory Bird Week.

Women are the superhero allies of birds, as we understand how important our winged friends are in creating a healthy, diverse ecosystem on our land. This session on all things birds will help you identify what’s on your land already and help you plan next steps in developing a plan to enhance prairie habitat there. Connect with conservation experts, meet other inspiring Wisconsin women that share your love for the land and prairies, and learn about NRCS resources to support your conservation goals. Our Expert Speaker is Cindy Becker of Southern Driftless Grasslands and our Citizen Scientist is Joy Miller of Driftless Curiosity.

Becker works in Southwest Wisconsin as a conservation liaison connecting landowners with technical and financial assistance available through the Southern Driftless Grasslands partnership. She has been involved in private lands conservation in the region since 2008. Cindy has co-authored a primer/handbook for landowners, entitled "Reading the Driftless Landscape" and more recently has been involved in developing a variety of outreach tools on pollinators, grassland birds, and climate smart conservation practices.

"For years I worked in open landscapes hearing birdsong all around me, but I was so focused on plants that it was simply background "noise". But! now that I can associate bird song with a bird - spring and summer are that much sweeter," says Becker.

Joy Miller is an organic vegetable farmer at Keewaydin Farms and co-founded Driftless Curiosity with her husband Rufus Haucke in 2021. In 2018, she earned her Masters in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University where she studied environmental ethics, leadership, and food justice. In her graduate research project, “Socially Responsible Food and Ethical Food Consumerism," she learned the importance of consumers making meaningful connections with their food. Her research inspired her to create unique programs and open Keewaydin Farms as a social space where people can deepen their connection with the land, learn about producing food, seek better social solutions, express themselves artistically, and gratify their curiosity. She’s a farmer, writer, director, and life-long lover of all things curious.

"I was initially drawn to bird conservation because I love cohabitating with their sweet voices, graceful flight patterns, and vibrant colors," says Miller. "They are the loveliest of neighbors. However, the more I observed, the more I recognized their crucial role in pest control. While they soar and sing, they're also eating insects and rodents who nibble our gardens, acting as our aerial allies. When we preserve their habitat, they repay the favor tenfold."

Keewaydin Farms, home of Driftless Curiosity in Viola

In 2022, Driftless Curiosity hosted a birding workshop on the farm and spotted a number of meadowlarks, bobolinks, area sensitive hawks, and diverse songbirds. The guest instructor from the DNR was thrilled with the sightings and identified the land as high value habitat. In 2023, Miller would like to expand the project, including offering additional learning opportunities for adults and youth, hosting volunteer days to work on developing the "Bird Sanctuary" and improving bird habitat, while still utilizing sections of the farm for agriculture/agroforestry. The Driftless Curiosity Bird Lovers Project emphasizes land stewardship, biodiversity conservation, regenerative agriculture, and permaculture. Miller will be hosting a WiWiC Field Day on the farm June 23. Registration is open now!

Go ahead and sign up for ALL of the Summer Conservation Camp webinars now! Just click on a critter below.

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