2020 Annual Picnic & 2021 Conference Go Online

TPE held its first-ever Virtual Annual Picnic & Meeting on July 19, 2020. The event was a big success, drawing over 75 attendees. It consisted of a musical slide show with pictures from many of TPE's best photographers, an outstanding talk by Curt Meine, and a short video by TPE member Eric Preston featuring the best of his popular "Badger Cam" series. A recording of the entire program is now available for viewing.

We are now working on moving our 2021 Annual Conference to an online format. Learn how you can help!

The Virtual Picnic event began with a slide show, featuring pictures from many of TPE's wonderful photographers, set to music:  

The annual meeting itself featured updates from each of TPE's 11 chapters, sharing accomplishments and plans for the coming year. This was followed by an outstanding talk from Curt Meine. Curt is an ecologist, longtime TPE member, noted author, and biographer of Aldo Leopold.

In his talk, Curt mentioned a wonderful essay about prairies by Robin Wall Kimmerer, the well-known botanist, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and author of Braiding Sweetgrass. You can find a link to her essay here.

The event closed with a short video by Empire-Sauk Chapter member Eric Preston, produced by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin as a "virtual field trip". The video features amazing wildlife cam footage taken around badger dens from Eric's very popular "Badger Cam" series on YouTube. Most of the footage was captured at TPE's Mounds View Grassland Preserve.


2021 TPE Conference Also Moving Online

The 2021 TPE Annual Conference was being planned by the Minnesota Driftless Chapter to take place in Winona, Minn. next February. With COVID-19 continuing to be a major challenge, the chapter and TPE staff have decided not to hold a live conference in 2021. Given the great success of our virtual picnic, we are now in the early stages of planning for a virtual conference. Although certainly not a substitute for actually getting together in person, we believe this format provides exciting opportunities for innovation and greater participation.

We are now forming an ad hoc online conference planning committee, and anyone from across the organization is welcome to participate. Also, we are looking for good ideas for speakers, program content, events, etc. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below or contact Diane Hills, Outreach and Development coordinator (outreach@theprairieenthusiasts.org) for more information.

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