2021 TPE Online Conference Program

The program for the TPE 2021 Online Conference runs from February 23 - 27, 2021:

Prescribed Burn School

(Tuesday, February 23, 9 am - 2:30 pm)

In keeping with our conference theme, “Inspired by Fire”, we're offering a special prescribed burn crew training workshop just before the conference itself. A separate registration for this workshop is required. Learn more and register here.

Prairie 101

(Wednesday, February 24, 1 - 4 pm)

This pre-conference session is intended to provide a basic background on prairie and savanna conservation for those who are new to the field. The session will include three talks on elements of prairies and oak savannas as natural communities, the ecology of fire, and prairie/savanna restoration and management practices. We will also screen the 30 minute video Prairie Enthusiasm, filmed and produced by TPE members, about the beauty of prairies and why people become so attached to them.


(Wednesday, February 24, 5:30 - 9 pm)

We'll begin the evening with the welcome and kickoff for the conference. The Science session itself starts with the opening keynote address by Chris Helzer (Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska) titled "All the Little Things", a photo-heavy presentation of the many smaller organisms (plants and invertebrates) and how they form and maintain resilient and healthy ecosystems. Four shorter talks will follow on the latest scientific research about prairies and savannas, including studies being conducted on TPE preserves.

Poster Session, Exhibitors & Arts Fair

(Thursday, February 25, 1 - 4 pm)

This afternoon session is set aside for attendees to visit the many "virtual booths" we have to offer, including invited student poster sessions (see the Call for Posters), our exhibitors (companies with products and services of interest, as well as other non-profit organizations), and our new arts fair (see the conference Arts Program page for more information). You'll be able to see the offerings, download additional information, and connect directly with the students, exhibitors, and artists. This is also a good time to network and meet up virtually with your fellow attendees.

Restoration Practice

(Thursday, February 25, 5:30 - 9 pm)

This session will begin with a talk by Jim Uhrinak (Conservation Chair at Milwaukee Audubon) titled "American Indian Savanna Science", about use and management of oak savannas, based on research on confirmed ceremonial and archaeological sites. We will then present a series of short talks on practical aspects of restoration including working with contractors, funding conservation projects, selecting and sourcing native seeds, and how we can better speak and connect with neighboring landowners about conservation.

Arts Workshops

(Friday, February 26, 1 - 4:30 pm)

Two special hands-on workshops will be offered to all conference attendees - Carolyn Byers will teach nature drawing and Chris Helzer will teach nature photography. See the conference Arts Program page for more information.

Where Do We Go from Here?: Sharing Our Stories, Building Our Future

(Friday, February 26, 6 - 8 pm)

TPE's new Executive Director, Debra Behrens, will host a virtual "happy hour" for all attendees and will provide recipes for a fire-inspired cocktail or mocktail we can enjoy together. We will follow this social event with a guided discussion open to everyone interested in the future of our organization.

Special Closing Session

(Saturday, February 27, 9 - 11:30 am)

We are very pleased to have Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer give our closing keynote address. After her talk, Robin will join a panel discussion with Dr. Curt Meine and TPE President Scott Fulton on how we can better partner with First Nations people through restoring the land. The conference will close with our annual chapter and organization awards and the announcement of the photo and haiku contest winners.

Click here to register for the conference!

Photos by Jerry Newman