waskington state lake images
WATERLINE - December, 2019

WALPA 2019 conference at Chelan a Halloween success

by Sally Abella

The annual WALPA conference was held at Campbell’s Resort in Chelan, WA from October 30th to November 1st this year. The 73 attendees displayed lots of enthusiasm, and a costume party on Halloween night was thrown in for even more fun. As a bonus, food quality for the breakfasts, lunch, and Happy Hour buffet was exceptional.
This year’s theme was “Lakes are for Everyone,” recognizing the many roles that lakes play in our lives, from environmental buffers and habitats to recreation and aesthetics. Our theme also recognized that everyone has a stake in keeping our lakes healthy, and so opportunities to contribute to their protection, restoration, and conservation should also be available to all, regardless of race, gender, or creed.
Two hands-on workshops were held on Wednesday afternoon. The aquatic plant workshop attracted lots of participants, including many attendees involved with Lake Chelan restoration, as well as pesticide applicators, receiving credits toward license renewal. The advanced limnological techniques workshop was held dockside at the lake, where attendees were able to try out new equipment and brainstorm modifying remote sampling devices.
On Thursday, the official program opened with a plenary session featuring four women who have been involved with WALPA for many years. Each held differing positions over their careers within the limnological community and agreed to speak about their perspectives on lake science and management. They were questioned by both the MC and the audience on many topics, such as experiences as women within a male-dominated industry, their most and least favorite projects, the role and importance of mentoring, and the future of lakes with ongoing global climate change. Tough questions! But the women took them on bravely, and the ensuing discussions were lively and stimulating.
Following the plenary, there was a morning session on Lake Chelan that featured modeling results and progress reports. After lunch, two afternoon sessions focused on harmful algae blooms, bacteria along shorelines, and arsenic uptake by invertebrates in lakes near industrial sources.
The lunchtime program included WALPA business items, recognition of outgoing Board members, announcement of 2019 scholarship winners, and a quick speech by incoming President Sally Abella on her ideas for WALPA in 2020. The four 2019 WALPA scholarship winners were as follows: Sara Burnet from the University of Idaho won the Nancy Weller Memorial Scholarship, and Kathryn Sweeney of Washington State University won the Dave Lamb Memorial Scholarship. The two undergraduate scholarships were awarded to Beth Hoots from the University of Idaho and Kenneth Burkart from the University of Washington.
However, the focus of the program was honoring two women with the WALPA Secchi Disk Award: Jean Jacoby, who could not attend, and Robin Matthews, one of the plenary speakers. Both have made long-term contributions to WALPA and to limnology, and close associates gave several moving speeches about their work. Congratulations, Robin and Jean!

Rachael Gravon in her prize-winning diatom costume

In the evening, a Halloween party and costume competition accompanied the basket raffle, silent auction, and live auction that are held every year to raise money for student scholarships. A photo contest and student poster contest gathered votes as well. More than 47 different businesses and individuals contributed auction items, including several large ticket items from our sponsors sold in an exciting live auction MC’d by Jim Gawel. In all, more than $6,000 was raised through the auctions, raffles, and donations for the student scholarship fund.

Robin and Geoff Matthews as festive desmids

While there were many creative costumes, the Best Costume prize went to Rachael Gravon, who came as the rock snot diatom, Didymosphenia. The photo contest prize went to Joan Hardy for a winter scene at Lake Louise. Best graduate student poster was determined to be a tie between Kathryn Sweeney from Washington State University and Samantha Fung from the University of Washington. The award for best undergraduate poster was won by Ken Burkart from the University of Washington.

Samantha Fung as the food web

Friday featured two morning sessions on a variety of food web topics and updates on nuisance/noxious aquatic plants and management techniques. All in all, the conference was great fun and a wonderful learning and networking opportunity.
We especially wish to thank our conference sponsors, who actively participated, thus ensuring conference success. A big shout-out to OTT/Hydromet, YSI, Aquatechnex, HAB AquaticSolutions, In-Situ, Herrera Environmental, Lakeland Restoration Services, SePro, and Parametrix.
It was a highly successful three days, and we are looking forward to next year already! Stay tuned to Waterline for the chosen location. For more details on the conference, please refer to the digital copy of the conference program posted on the WALPA website.