ANREP participants at  Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, May 2024. Photo by Andrew A. Kling.

ANREP participants at  Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, May 2024. Photo by Andrew A. Kling.

Updated: May 30, 2024
By Andrew Kling

Much has been written about the literal and the metaphorical renewal that springtime brings to our planet. When the season is combined with networking opportunities such as webinars, workshops, and conferences, participants seem to be infused with an additional feeling of renewal. Such was the case in early May, when several members of University of Maryland Extension attended the biennial conference of the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP).

The conference was hosted by our colleagues at Penn State Extension in Hershey PA. Their enthusiasm set the tone for three days of information, shared research and education, and fellowship. Many of the ANREP participants took part in field trips to nearby resources, such as to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. While the timing of the field trip wasn’t quite right to observe migrating raptors, the view of the Kittatinny Ridge and environs from the North and South overlooks was worth the hike.

One of the benefits of attending such a conference is being able to discover that others professionals are considering the questions you have been pondering as well. Wondering about how native tree communities may be affected by climate change? Join the presentation from the folks at the University of Minnesota Extension, who are examining what species will be suitable for future planting projects. Puzzling about integrating Spotted Lanternfly information into Extension education for youth? Then join the folks from the Ohio State Extension to hear what they’re doing. Or consider listening to a talk just because the title is intriguing—and leaving with a new perspective. Such was the case when I attended a presentation by a Penn State doctoral student who emphasized the value of developing insect population models by measuring at varying heights within the forest—not just at ground level or in the canopy

While it is often difficult to take time away from day-to-day routines (especially if your inbox tends towards overflowing on the best of days), meeting with folks of similar but different backgrounds and with similar but different interests can be rewarding, and renewing. But if you can’t take time to attend a multi-day conference or a weekend workshop, take some time to visit your favorite woodlands—especially if you haven’t been there in a while. You never know what you’ll find that can be rewarding and renewing.

Branching Out, Vol. 32, no. 2 (Spring 2024)

Branching Out is the free, quarterly newsletter of the Woodland Stewardship Education program. For more than 30 years, Branching Out has kept Maryland woodland owners and managers informed about ways to develop and enhance their natural areas, how to identify and control invasive plants and insects, and about news and regional online and in-person events.