Drew Lanham talks often about how to connect the dots in the conservation movement.
Lanham, a wildlife biology professor at Clemson University, goes around the world to talk with groups about how to better translate conservation science into a relevant conversation for everyone.
He will share this message at the upcoming “Choosing to Lead” conference hosted by One Hundred Miles, a local environmental organization dedicated to preserving Georgia’s coast.
“I’m going to ask people … to understand first where you are on the globe and to sort of put down that home stake, so that we understand it’s a place worth defending,” Lanham said. “And by defending, I mean by standing up for what’s right.”
Lanham is one of two keynote speakers at this year’s conference, which will also include lectures, workshops and field trips meant to prompt discussion about future conservation efforts.
The conference, titled “Coastal Conservation in Action Choosing to Lead,” will take place Jan. 13-14 at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.
The conference is open to all and aims to make conservation accessible to everyone by educating attendees on the role each can play in local conservation efforts, said Catherine Ridley, vice president of education and communications for One Hundred Miles.
Wallace ‘J’ Nichols, a sea turtle scientist based in California, also will give a keynote address at the conference.
His recent book “Blue Mind” focuses on everyone’s connection to water and the role that connection plays in conservation efforts.
Nichols said he is honored to speak at the conference, noting that One Hundred Miles has taken a smart approach to organizing this sort of event.
“I think what’s happening at this conference and the whole approach is one of the best examples of the modern environmental movement,” he said.
Nichols, an educator, economist and ecologist, said that as a scientist he is taught to leave emotion out of his work. But that is the wrong approach, he said.
“The emotional piece is not only important, it’s critical, and we are taught in many different ways to leave it out,” he said. “… I’ve found it’s those emotions that compel us to be unstoppable and solve big problems and stay involved.”
Lanham, an ornithologist, recently wrote and published “The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.”
He said the leadership conference provides the opportunity to continue to push the conservation message out.
“Conservation is a mission. It’s an effort to help others care about the natural world around them,” he said. “So any opportunity that I have to sort of spread that word and to move the mission forward, especially here in the South, I think it’s especially important.”
Lanham said he hopes to encourage conference attendees to think about how they are connected to the world around them.
“In some ways, we are all one to the wildness that surrounds us, so I want people to claim that under that reverence and understand that,” he said.
Registration for the conference will be open through Jan. 13.
However, registration by Jan. 7 is preferred, as lunch will only be available as long as space is available.
More information can be found online at OneHundredMiles.org/ChoosingToLead.