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WATERLINE - March, 2020

NALMS annual meeting attended by hundreds in Vermont last November amid wintry weather

39th International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society

by Harry Gibbons

NALMSThe 2019 North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) annual meeting was held in Burlington, Vermont, from November 11-15, with the theme: Watershed Moments: Harnessing Data, Science, and Local Knowledge to Protect Lakes. Approximately 600 attendees registered for the meeting, up from recent conference numbers. In the spirit of the theme, the conference hosts (the New England chapter of NALMS) reached out to local lake users specifically to help them participate with lake professionals through the week. Monday’s workshops, for example, were held at the University of Vermont (UVM) allowing participants to connect with university students and faculty.

There was an abundance of learning opportunities in Burlington! Not only could conference attendees choose from six concurrent sessions each morning and afternoon on Tuesday and Wednesday, and five concurrent sessions on Thursday, but there were also twelve workshops on Monday and three on Friday. The additional workshops – held both at UVM and at the Doubletree – were scheduled to help local lake advocates attend and to meet the needs of the local planning committee. 

Presenters led sessions on topics from toxins to nutrients to watershed management. Overall, the focus was on citizen interaction, primarily on education. Technical papers were presented as well. Other highlights of the conference included a reception in the exhibit hall, banquet, photo contest, and fun run. One change this year was providing some of the handouts – lists of presenters and attendees, and abstracts – electronically rather than in print form. This approach (to cut costs) worked well for attendees most of the time, but was occasionally challenging for those with different types and ages of mobile phone.

The weather brought an extra touch of drama to the conference. A huge Monday snowstorm signaled the beginning of winter, followed by ice, rain, more snow, and ice throughout the week. Several participants had trouble getting to Burlington on Monday, with at least one WALPA/NALMS member turning around in Washington, DC, and heading back to Seattle. Despite the weather, the setting was beautiful and Lake Champlain scenic.

As with most conferences, the best part of this gathering was sharing professional and personal information with long-time colleagues and friends. I always learn something notable about lakes during the conference, while enjoying the company of fellow lake professionals.

Mark your calendar now for next year’s 40th Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota from November 16-20. The theme is Leveraging Experience to Manage Diverse Lakes, Landscapes, and People. I encourage all who can to attend.

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NALMS annual meeting attended by hundreds in Vermont last November amid wintry weather

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