National Native Seed Conference

Program Information

The 2023 National Native Seed Conference, Cultivating the Restoration Supply Chain, will be in the Washington D.C. metro area from March 27 – 30, 2023. The conference will host a wide variety of talks and presenters during the concurrent sessions. The agenda also features workshops, field trips, panels, a poster session, and plenary sessions. This 3.5 day conference will also offer numerous opportunities for networking and connecting with restoration professionals, land managers, and native seed producers.

The NNSC will provide several meals including breakfast Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well as lunch on Tuesday.

Workshops – Monday, March 27th

Workshop registration opens February 16th. Workshops are included with a conference registration.

Three-Part Seed Planning Workshop Series

Planning plant materials development and applications for restoration involves myriad, intertwining elements. This three-part workshop series offers a comprehensive tour of seed planning considerations including site-specific species selection guidelines, seed mix design principles and calculation exercises, and practice in applying data-driven tools and DIY analyses to guide seed planning and promote restoration success. These hands-on workshops are designed for restoration professionals who are directly involved in planning the use and development of native plant materials, as well as anybody interested in learning more about seed planning. Personal laptops are highly recommend to get the most out of the workshop series. Participants may register for all 3 series or standalone sessions. Capacity: 30 participants per session.

Part 1: What’s on the Seed Menu? Preliminary Seed Planning and Species Selection – 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

With presenters from academic, private, and non-profit organizations, this workshop will cover considerations in species selection, an overview of available seed menu tools, and an opportunity to apply concepts and tools using scenario-based exercises. Although the featured tools are designed for specific geographic areas in the Central and Western U.S., each serves as a case study with broadly applicable, transferrable processes and approaches to any region. Presented by Dr. Elise Gornish (University of Arizona), Dr. Kevin Badik (The Nature Conservancy), Rob Cook (Bamert Seed), and Ashlee Wolf (Institute for Applied Ecology).

Part 2: Seed Mix Design – Theory and Practice – 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Run by the International Network for Seed-based Restoration, the Seed Mix Design Workshop will highlight the critical elements to take into consideration when designing seed mixes for restoration. The workshop will include presentations by experts, providing case studies of seed mixes design for a range of plant communities and habitats. Workshop participants will then join groups facilitated by the experts where they will be given the opportunity to work on a seed mix “exercise”. Presented by Dr. Stephanie Frischie (Xerces Society), Dr. Marcello De Vitis (Southeastern Grasslands Initiative), and Dr. Karin Kettenring (Utah State University).

Part 3: Improving the Use and Development of Native Plant Materials Using Data-Driven Approaches – 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM

The availability of plant materials for restoration is limited; even in regions where diverse seed sources are available, it is rare to find multiple, desirable plant materials that are considered genetically appropriate for a site with management needs. As a result, efforts to increase the availability and diversity of plant materials are underway, including the development of generalized (i.e., provisional) and species-specific (i.e., empirical) seed transfer tools to guide decision-making in present and future climates. Participants in this workshop will use publicly available, web-based tools to learn about seed transfer zone concepts and how to use geospatial environmental data to guide the deployment of existing native plant materials and the development of new materials under current and future climate scenarios. Presented by Dr. Rob Massatti (U.S. Geological Survey), Dr. Francis Kilkenny (U.S. Forest Service), Dr. Bryce Richardson (U.S. Forest Service), and Dr. Elizabeth Milano (U.S. Forest Service).

Conservation in Prisons Programs startup: Improving human well-being and ecosystem health – 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

One of the limiting factors in restoration work is the lack of a consistent supply chain of native plant materials. Our Conservation in Prisons work focuses on the growth of plants in support of native habitats and organisms. This includes half a million sagebrush grown annually, the Mojave Desert Tortoise seed bulking project, and native plants grown in support of three endangered butterflies of the Pacific NW. Adults in custody in eleven prisons in five states make this possible by choosing to participate in these programs that provide horticultural and ecological education while growing plants in hoop houses and in prison yards. The value to the lives of incarcerated people has been well documented and we believe represents one model to improve human well-being in carceral systems while providing real world experiences that can be valuable on exit – both to the person and ecosystems. We encourage you to try, too. We will include a series of exercises designed to create a template you can use to start up a prisons’-based program in your area. Participants will also receive a manual on how to start up programs like these. Presented by Karen Hall, Annie Lamas and Frederick Livingston (Institute for Applied Ecology). Capacity: 40 participants.

Two-Eyed Seeing: Basic Principles of TEK Ecological Restoration Partnerships with Tribal Nations for the National Seed Strategy – 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg will present the basic principles for partnering with Tribal Nations in a manner that is equitable and socially just and that honors Tribal sovereignty and self-determination rights. She will discuss ecocultural restoration, which brings together TEK and best Western science to find equitable and socially just solutions to natural resources conservation and management issues—called Two-Eyed Seeing. Adaptive management and co-management of natural resources on Federal and Tribal lands will be discussed as an outcome of ecocultural restoration partnerships. While every Tribal Nation is different, with a unique culture, capacity, and shared environmental challenges, Dr. Eisenberg will present the basic principles share when building partnerships. Through breakout group activities and reflective exercises in which they share their experiences, participants will identify barriers, gaps in their skills in partnering with Tribal Nations, and learn how to build such partnerships from the ground up. Capacity: 40 participants.

Field Trips – Monday, March 27th

Field trip registration opening in late February. Field trips are included with a conference registration.

Bull Run Mountain Preserve Hike – 1 – 5 PM (hike 2 – 4 PM)

Take a trip through the past and present of Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s Preserve at Bull Run Mountains where one will witness spring foliage emergence along Catlett’s branch and compare this current landscape to its past. From the flora and fauna present during the Jurassic-Triassic boundary (thanks to clues uncovered from the Preserve’s fossil deposits) to the 1700s and 1800s (homesteads and cemeteries dot the landscape).

This walk through time should have something to offer for naturalists, history buffs, and paleo fanatics alike.

Hike is roughly 2 miles and should take a max of 2 hours. Some parts off-trail. Bring water and snacks. No bathroom on-site but there will be a Porta-Potty. Transportation to and from the Westin Alexandria Old Town will be provided. Capacity: 25 participants. 

U.S. National Herbarium Tour – 11 AM – 12 PM

Imagine cabinets upon cabinets filled with plants collected over the past few centuries from around the world. That is what you will find during a behind-the-scenes tour of the United States National Herbarium at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Learn about the history of the herbarium and witness some historic specimens. Explore ways in which herbarium specimens are used in taxonomy, ecology, and conservation research. The National Herbarium has 5 million specimens making the collections among the largest in the world. Tour led by Gary Krupnick, Head of the Plant Conservation Unit. Capacity: 15 participants. 

Additional Events

  • Poster session + social: Tuesday, March 28th
  • U.S. Botanic Garden Reception: Wednesday, March 29th