The Future of Wildlife Conservation: Funding Strategies for the State of Ohio
A major source of funding to support wildlife conservation derives from the activity of sportswomen and men through licensing and excise taxes. With declining numbers of these recreationists in our nation and state, there is a potential for significant funding shortages in years to come that will have grave impacts on wildlife conservation. Strategies currently employed that focus on how to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers may not be enough, and engaging outdoor users more broadly may not fully address the funding question. Through this EPN program, we explore how wildlife conservation agencies, non-profits, and enthusiasts can build an effective and inclusive coalition to address future funding gaps. How do we increase the networks of both outdoor recreational participants, as well as hunters and anglers, in coalition-building to highlight and successfully conserve our state’s wildlife?
Join this EPN Breakfast Program to learn from Kendra Wecker (the Chief of Ohio’s Division of Wildlife) and Naomi Edelson (Senior Director for Wildlife Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation; national expert on state-based conservation funding strategies), as we discuss a variety of strategies aimed at enhancing the future of wildlife conservation in Ohio. The discussion will cover traditional funding sources derived through activities such as hunting and fishing, as well as those related to taxing outdoor goods or shooting-specific sports equipment. Additional strategies include broader coalition-building with various stakeholders to expand the number of recreationists. Attendees will walk away from this program with a deeper knowledge of the most critical strategies and challenges to conserve wildlife in Ohio.
Ms. Kendra Wecker was appointed by Mary Mertz, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in January 2019 to be the next chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Ms. Wecker is an experienced executive administrator, having worked in the fields of Legislation, Wildlife Management, Event Management, and Volunteer Management. Prior to executive administration roles, Ms. Wecker served for 24 years with the Ohio Division of Wildlife as a Wildlife Diversity Coordinator. She was a member of the Ohio Biological Survey Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2016. She received a B.S. in Zoology from Ohio State.
Ms. Naomi Edelson is currently leading a campaign on securing dedicated funding to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered in every state. It is a national legislative, coalition building and communications campaign. She also works on NWF's Gardening for Wildlife program (www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife) including creator of the emerging Sacred Grounds (certification program for greening congregation grounds; www.nwf.org/sacredgrounds), creator of native plant finder, and monarch butterfly conservation. She is a co-founder of the Women in Wildlife Conservation Network. She received her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida and B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
EPN Breakfast Program
7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; coffee served
7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served
8:10 a.m. Jeff Sharp, PhD, director, School of Environment and Natural Resources provides welcome remarks
8:15 a.m. Kendra Wecker, chief, Ohio Division of Wildlife, provides an overview of the current status of wildlife conservation funding in Ohio and strategies to build an agency culture that seeks to broaden the agency’s definition of wildlife stakeholders.
8:35 a.m. Naomi Edelson, senior director of wildlife partnerships, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), shares the NWF’s toolkit on state funding models, the responsibility of non-governmental organizations in elevating the wildlife crisis, and an update on federal wildlife conservation policy.
9:15 a.m. Audience Q & A session
9:30 a.m. Dr. Sharp’s closing comments and EPN Breakfast program concludes
9:35 a.m. Informal Networking
9:50 a.m. Workshop session introduction and overview by Dr. Kristi Lekies, Victoria Abou-Ghalioum (Ph.D. candidate), Briahna Hendey (M.S. candidate) and Dr. Joe Campbell, Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.
10:00 a.m. Session 1 Topic: Wildlife access and engagement
Access and engagement in wildlife-related recreation is an important driver of support for conservation and establishing funding mechanisms. However, not all people have the same type of access to wildlife-based recreation. Differences in access and engagement often stem from where people live and the social influences on their lives. This first workshop session, informed by the EPN Breakfast Keynote presentations by Wecker and Edelson, will take the form of individual reflections and small group discussions to identify what drives (or limits) participation in wildlife-based recreation, and what partnerships could be developed to address unresolved questions on the path ahead.
11:00 a.m. Session 1 Topic: Wildlife access and engagement
The breadth, and depth of responsibility that agencies and NGOs assume for wildlife conservation has increased over time while financial resources to meet rising costs have remained static or declined. Wildlife conservation is still mostly funded by consumptive users whose interests center on games species and there are means to direct resources toward threatened and endangered species. In between, there are populations and communities of plants and animals that support nature-based recreation but benefit only indirectly from programs that support game or endangered species conservation. Alternative funding streams are proposed or being developed to address conservation needs of non-game / non-endangered species. New funding sources will affect how different user-groups influence conservation policy and decision-making. This second workshop session will explore these topic areas through individual reflections and a small group discussion format.
12:00 p.m. Wild Ohio Harvest cooking demonstration and discussion over a catered lunch
The Ohio Division of Wildlife is working toward providing learning resources, connections, and hands-on opportunities tailored to people interested in sustainably harvesting (through hunting or fishing) and cooking their own wild game. This collection of diverse opportunities to learn new skills and connect with mentors and friends will be known as the Wild Ohio Harvest Community. The Wild Ohio Harvest Community will be a lifestyle and a community in which audiences of all kinds can feel comfortable choosing their own path to learning new skills and exploring their personal connection to the outdoors.
The Wild Ohio Harvest cooking demonstration is an additional component of this program that will occur from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. following the facilitated workshop. Alongside a catered lunch, participants will have the opportunity to experience a cooking demonstration on wild caught foods in Ohio (e.g., filleting fish, cooking game) as well as explore the new outreach efforts found under the Wild Ohio Harvest Community campaign. Walleye and perch will be sampled as fish tacos, as it will be a Taco Tuesday at the EPN! The mobile cooking station will be setup outside of the 4-H Center and small groups will rotate through their experience of this while lunch is served.
1:00 p.m. Lunch program concludes; Additional discussion on the Recovering America's Wildlife Act with Matt Misicka (Ohio Conservation Federation), Wecker and Edelson
4:00 p.m. Discussion on the Recovering America's Wildlife Act concludes