Native plants drive habitat restoration and seed industries nationally and globally. Designed to bring together restoration practitioners, seed producers, academics, and agencies, the National Native Seed conference is a bi-annual chance to network across disciplines and areas of interest. The 2017 National Native Seed Conference was the largest and most successful yet. Over 330 people participated in the conference, held February 13-16, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. This year, the theme was putting the National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration into action. Delegates at the conference came from 41 states and 11 other nations around the globe, demonstrating that native seed issues are of interest throughout the U.S. and beyond.
The conference kicked off with five field trips to national treasures for plant enthusiasts: behind the scenes at the National Museum of Natural History, including the National Herbarium & Insect Collection; the production facility for the U.S. Botanic Gardens; the National Plant Materials Center; the U.S. National Arboretum, including the National Seed Herbarium; and the Dumbarton Oaks Park natural area. These field trips provided opportunities not only to experience these special places but to meet and develop relationships with other conference attendees.
The following two and a half days featured over 50 hours of programming, with 138 individuals delivering oral presentations and 27 poster presentations. Keynote speakers were U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL), Jean Franczyk (Chicago Botanic Garden), Dr. Ann Bartuska (USDA), Dr. Cristina Eisenberg (Earthwatch), Dr. Tom Kaye (Institute for Applied Ecology), Noreen Walsh (USFWS), and Peggy Olwell (Bureau of Land Management). Quigley proposed a bill, HR 1054, the Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration, and Promotion Act (also known as "the Botany Bill") that same day. Issues covered in the conference included emergency preparedness, green infrastructure, ecological restoration, plant blindness, links between wildlife and native seeds, plant research needs, seed industry roles, partnerships, communications and outreach and tools for land managers.
On Tuesday evening a poster session and reception was held at the hotel, featuring a hands-on demonstration area for seed sampling and seed quality testing hosted by the Association of Official Seed Analysts & Society of Commercial Seed Technologists. Wednesday evening we hosted a special reception at the Conservatory of the U.S. Botanic Garden, featuring Senator Ron Wyden (OR), who spoke on the importance of native plants and habitat restoration.
We received a lot of positive feedback after the conference. Here are some examples:
- The variety of topics covered was fantastic! As well, most of the presenters were engaging and enthusiastic.
- I enjoyed having producers, agencies, land managers, and scientists all together.
- I was amazed by the range of people attending the meeting from large-scale land restorers to landscape architects wanting to produce pollinator gardens. I met a fabulous range of people all interested in preserving native plants and their seed by various methods.
- As an intern, this was an inspirational event and an important week in determining my future career goals.
- The best part of this conference is that it brings everyone together.
- I value most that this meeting gathers my peer group better than any other meeting. I am allowed to attend few professional meetings, and I "save up" to ensure that I don't miss the NNSC.
- I was able to interact & network with industry, researchers, and agency personnel.
Highlights included panel discussions on ecological resilience, adaptation, and emergency preparedness; seed producer perspectives from the American Seed Trade Association; symposia on seed production; tools for collection and use; and the International Network for Seed-based Restoration. A special working session was organized by the Plant Conservation Alliance to increase engagement in the National Seed Strategy, featuring 12 breakout discussions where participants formed task forces and developed action plans to implement the Strategy.
Please join us in 2019! For more information, copies of presentations from 2017, and to stay connected, visit the conference website at www.nativeseed.info.
Over 330 people from 41 states and twelve nations attended the 2017 National Native Seed Conference in Washington DC. Check out where in the world the came from!
We are grateful to the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Forest Service, Society for Ecological Restoration, Kaste Seed, and Sharp Bros. Seed Co. for sponsoring the conference. Thank you for the support!