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Speaker: Theo Witsell, Botanist, AR Natural Heritage Commission

From the High Ozarks to the swamps of the Mississippi Valley, Arkansas was once a rich and patchy mosaic of grassland, forest, glade, and wetland. Theo’s talk will explore the state’s natural communities past and present, visit remnants of rare landscapes, and meet rare, endemic, and otherwise unique flora and fauna. Emphasis will be on how ecosystem processes, including anthropogenic management, shaped the native biota and how modern conservationists are working to secure the future of our natural heritage.

As the senior botanist and ecologist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Program, Theo explores and inventories some of the best remaining natural areas in the central United States. His research helps identify conservation targets and prioritize sites for protection, restoration, and management within the state’s System of Natural Areas and beyond. He works closely with state, federal, municipal, and private partners to achieve conservation goals. Theo collaborates widely with both professional and amateur naturalists, publishing regularly and speaking to a variety of audiences. He serves as a regional reviewer for the Flora of North America Project, was co-editor of the recently published Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas, and is co-author of a new guide to the state’s woody plants. In 2014 he was named a Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

 

Location: Fletcher Library off University Avenue at 7 PM.

Meet at 7:00 a.m. in North Little Rock in the Other Center parking lot, the east side behind McDonald’s. Take Exit 1 West off US-67/167. The Other Center is on McCain Blvd. across from McCain Mall. We’ll arrive at Bald Knob NWR at around 8:30 a.m. for those who want to meet us there. Look for the line of cars parked on Coal Chute Road. The federal refuge is also a National Audubon Important Bird Area. We expect to see shorebirds, herons, night-herons, egrets, and possibly Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills. It will be very hot so bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat. If you have a scope, bring it. Very little walking will be involved. There is no bathroom on-site. There is a McDonald’s just off Hwy. 67/167 at Bald Knob Exit 55. Go to www.fws.gov/baldknob/ for driving directions and more information about the refuge. GPS: 35.260233, -91.571903

Speaker: Sarah Scanlon

As people we relate to the world based on our issues, our interests, and our values. When we are advocating for or against a particular issue we often miss the mark because we don’t make the connection for the listener between how what we are asking for matches their issue, interests or values. All too often we feel as though we are yelling into the wind and we can’t understand why people don’t just listen to what we say. Together we can work on what that looks like when we are talking about the environment and specifically Audubon’s priorities.

Sarah Scanlon most recently served as the National Director of Outreach for the LGBT Community and the Arkansas State Director for Bernie 2016 Campaign. She has served as the State Director for the Arkansas Voter Registration Project and State Director for Give Arkansas A Raise. Both projects were focused on increasing registered voters in the African American communities and then turning them out to vote on economic issues in Arkansas. She has also worked with Wellstone Action, a nonprofit based in St. Paul Minnesota with a mission to ignite leadership in people, and power in communities, to win change in the progressive tradition of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. Her primary focus was training activists and potential political candidates on how to run and win effective elections. Sarah has a long history of working on political campaigns all over the country, working on union organizing campaigns all over the country, and building collaborative efforts to influence and create good public policy. When not on the road agitating for progressive change she lives in North Little Rock with her wife and young daughter.