We are aware of the upcoming concerns with the weather and travel. The conference will still go forward. There may be some slight changes to sessions and availability of specific presenters. There will be updates at the conference. Due to the low cost of the conference and cost already incurred, we cannot offer refunds or credits. Also, sessions are not recorded and will not be available for remote or later viewing. If you will arrive after the start of the conference, that is ok. Please check in and attend sessions as you can.

​​Please click here for a pdf of the conference brochure


Registration​ - Registration for the 2022 IACD Conference is now CLOSED. Please check back later this year for the 2023 conference.

Registration for the 2022 IACD Conference is now open. The 2020 conference was incredibly popular, so be sure to register early to ensure your spot. When you attend IACD conferences, remember, overnight accommodations are separate from conference fees and are the responsibility of the attendee.

 Rates and deadlines will be as follows:

Early-bird registration is from November 1st, 2021 to January 10th, 2022.

​Early-bird fees are $85 for members and $95 for non-members.

Registration fees after January 10th, 2022 are $100 for members and $110 for non-members.

If your agency would like to inquire about a group/agency commitment to attend, email us at sravellette@maconcountyconservation.org, or call Shane at (217) 423-7708.


Conference host lodging will once again be at the Starved Rock Conference Center and Lodge. Lodging reservations are separate from your conference registration. Please contact the Starved Rock Conference Center and Lodge at (815) 667-4211 or at starvedrocklodge.com and ask for the IACD Conference Room Block.

Below are the presentation topics​ and speakers for the 2022 conference.

Keynote: Conservation For All: What Does It Mean and How Do We Get There?; Pete Jackson, Kaina Gonzalez, Brenna Ness

We believe in conservation for all people, but practically speaking, what does that actually mean? In recent years, we’ve had to reflect on who is participating in conservation - and who isn’t. Programs historically developed without consideration of all demographic groups are still impacting who is participating in conservation today. How do we build trust with historically excluded communities, especially when we have limited resources? In this presentation, we will discuss strategies for outreach to underserved communities, successes, bumps in the road, and recommendations from both agency and non-profit perspectives.

Dinner Speaker: Climate Change and Conservation, Dr. Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist, Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Climate change is a serious threat to natural ecosystems. More frequent and intense weather extremes, combined with increased stress from insect pests and non-native invasives, present significant challenges to conservation practices and natural resource management. However, conservation and ecosystem health are also important means of climate change mitigation and adaptation. We'll review our changing climate here in the Midwest and the current and projected impacts to conservation. We'll also discuss conservation as a climate change mitigation measure and the important role of conservation districts now and into the future. 

Pre-Conference Workshop: Five-Step Chainsaw Felling Plan -Thursday 2/17

Jay C. Hayek, Extension Forestry Specialist S.A.W.W. Certified Chainsaw Safety Trainer; Ethan Snively, Natural Resources Supervisor, Macon County Conservation District

This course is designed to teach novice and seasoned saw operators in chainsaw safety and directional felling, including body position and sight line; open-face notch; hinge; bore cutting; back cut; trigger; and wedges.

Pre-Conference Workshop: Increase Student Skills in Environmental Action Civics -Thursday 2/17
Abbie Enlund, Executive Director for the Environmental Education Association of Illinois
Help build your students' confidence in taking action by guiding them through a student-led environmental action project. The Earth Force 6-step Community Action and Problem-Solving Process provides all the information, guidance and activities necessary to provide a powerful environmental action civics experience. This program can be done in a formal classroom or in a non-formal setting. Activities are adaptable to students from upper elementary to high school level and provides students hands-on experiences in solving environmental issues within their community directly correlates to long-term increased civic efficacy

Determining Natural Quality of Natural Communities or Why a Species List isn’t Enough!  A Lesson From the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory.-Thursday 2/17
Randy Nyboer, 
Evaluating the natural quality of natural communities in natural areas during the INAI was important in determining whether a site was of statewide significance. Today, understanding and using the criteria used to do so will benefit managers and biologists to better understand the ecological aspects of the sites they work on, developing stronger management goals and lead to acquiring stewardship dollars to accomplish these goals. We will look at what it takes to interpret the natural quality of a prairie and a forest in this session.

District Archives
-Thursday 2/17
Bailey Rewoldt , Cultural Archivist for McHenry County Conservation District
Many people tend to think of historical truths as discoveries waiting to be used in our programs and interpretive signs.  However, historical knowledge fades away with the passing of time and the passing of each witness and participant of history.  In addition, items we use to steward the testimonies of these people (such as file formats, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, photos, film, and newspapers) deteriorate over time, often beyond repair.  Our knowledge of history is made richer by our efforts to preserve these irreplaceable items.  This presentation will cover different ways of gathering and caring for these items.

The Watershed Approach: Utilizing public & private partnerships to improve water quality in Copperas Creek Watershed - Thursday 2/17
Dawn Temple, Administrator, Rock Island County Soil & Water Conservation District; ​Rich Steward, Resource Conservationist, Rock Island County Soil and Water Conservation District 
In 2003, a group of watershed residents concerned about streambank erosion began work with Rock Island County Soil & Water Conservation District (RISWCD) and NRCS staff to complete a locally led planning effort designed to help land users identify necessary conservation practices and develop a Resource Plan for the watershed. This Plan was completed by RISWCD staff in 2012. After several failed attempts at funding through IL EPA 319 program, RISWCD was awarded their first IEPA 319 implementation grant in FY16. In addition, staff applied for and received funding for an update to the Resource Plan in FY17. The first implementation grant included sixteen projects (14 landowners) and included 2,625 feet of streambank stabilization, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures, filterstrips, and a diversion. This grant was completed in 2018, however there was more work to be done and RISWCD applied for a second grant in August, 2018. This grant was awarded in 2019 and will come to a close in December, 2021. Projects within the current grant have been mostly streambank stabilization projects as well as several WASCOBs, grassed waterways, and one structure. We have also held a tour of the watershed and highlighted the various BMP projects, hosted a forestry management workshop, and held a nutrient management forum as part of this grant’s education strategy. The Copperas Creek Steering Committee and RISWCD plan to apply for a 3rd IEPA 319 grant in 2022 to continue the work within the watershed guided by the Resource Plan and current resource concerns from landowners. 

Making Connections: Supporting Conservation Career Opportunities 
- Thursday 2/17
Dr. Tasha Davis, Executive Director Rockford Promise; Mark Freedlund, Program Support Coordinator, Boone County Conservation District
Establishing a new partnership can be tricky between organizations. Our goal was to help inform Rockford Promise Scholars about Green Jobs and increase candidate diversity for our summer intern positions.  This session will cover the steps our organizations are taking to showcase local conservation career opportunities for college students. The goal was to increase opportunities to get Rockford Promise Scholars and their families out to Conservation District sites and make the Scholars aware of local Green Jobs.  

Tools of the Trade-Data Collection for Land Management 
- Thursday 2/17
Josh Clark, Natural Resource Manager, DeKalb County Forest Preserve; ​Cindy Rendle, GIS Specialist, McHenry County Conservation District
Utilizing ESRI Arc Map and Arc Pro software and Collector and Field Map Applications, the McHenry County Conservation District has developed a robust data collection and management database.  The presentation will include the process for data collection utilized for land management racking and decision making.  Highlighting the abilities current software provides displaying and showcasing the data through the dashboards and mapping capabilities. .

History of Nature Study
- Thursday 2/17
Jessica Prince
To know where you are, learn what came before.  Learn the events and icons that laid the foundation for Environmental Education and Interpretation we champion today.  This interactive session takes you on a journey from the early days of Nature Study to speculating on the future of our field. 

Illinois Natural Areas Identified and Protected  
- Friday 2/18
John Nelson​, Natural Areas Preservation Specialist, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission; Jenny Skufca, Natural Areas Program Manager, Illinois Department of Natural Resources​
The last remaining high-quality natural communities in Illinois are held by public agencies, private organizations, and individuals.  These special places have been identified and evaluated as part of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) that began in 1977.  In addition to high-quality natural areas, other places of unique importance within the state are likewise identified on the INAI, these include habitats for threatened and endangered species, geologic features, and areas of high concentrations of rare fauna.  Legal protection against threats to these special natural areas is becoming of increasing importance as new sites to add to the inventory become exceedingly more difficult to find.  The Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act compels us to secure this enduring resource for present and future generations.  This session will consider the challenges and rewards of the comprehensive tracking of Illinois’ natural areas to ensure the highest degree of protection along with accountability for their continued stewardship. 

Nature for All: Leveraging Federal Initiatives for Local Impact - Friday 2/18
Gerald Adelmann,
President & CEO of Openlands

Gerald Adelman will discuss opportunities for increased conservation in Illinois related to the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative that tackles the climate crisis through a focus on nature-based solutions.  A centerpiece of the effort is 30x30—protecting 30% of our lands and waters by 2030. Openlands is a regional conservation not-for-profit formed in 1963, one of the first in the nation in a large metropolitan region.  Based in Chicago,  Openlands works in the three-state region at the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

Nachusa Grasslands Bison Program   - Friday 2/18

Cody Considine, Deputy Director, The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands

In 2014, The Nature Conservancy reintroduced bison to Nachusa Grasslands. Cody Considine, Nachusa’s deputy director, will discuss the years of planning that went into this effort, how the herd is managed,  lessons learned, how the flora and fauna are responding and share their recently developing partnerships with Indigenous communities.

Working with Your Local Fire Agencies for Prescribed and Not-so-Prescribed Fires - Friday 2/18 
Ethan Snively, Natural Resources Supervisor, Macon County Conservation District; Mitch Ward, Natural Resources Technician, Macon County Conservation District; Shane Ravellette,​ Director of Operations, Macon County Conservation
When the Macon County Conservation District was faced with an accidental wildfire in one of its prairies (a cigarette thrown from a car on a windy day), they discovered problems and opportunities in the understanding, communication, and incident command with their local fire agencies. This presentation will illustrate the near polar opposite understanding of fire, teaching the purpose of prescribed fire, and the safety concerns both during planned prescribed fires and “wild” fires. Topics covered will be how to communicate with fire agencies and fire fighters; the importance of joint training and sharing; and crossing the divide between people of action who’s primary goal is to eliminate fire with those who use fire as a tool. 

Illinois Floodplains Work Program - Friday 2/18 
Olivia Dorothy, American Rivers 
Multi-benefit floodplain development focuses on restoring natural ecosystem functionality through a process-based approach usually results in cleaner water, better habitat, and overall healthier river systems. Despite the ecosystem services provided by healthy rivers, communities resist this approach due to perceived economic losses caused by commercial and residential development limitations. In 2020, American Rivers released a study that quantified the economic benefits of process-oriented urban river floodplain restoration projects. The analysis showed river and floodplain restoration support economic growth in urban areas. California, Vermont, North Carolina, and Washington are all implementing multi-benefit floodplain development programs to encourage process-based restoration for better ecological and economic outcomes. However, the wealth is not evenly distributed. A 2021 study by American Rivers in Illinois captured conversations with floodplain residents in communities of color and low-wealth to understand how to design and build river restoration projects to ensure equitable economic outcomes. Results emphasize a need to accelerate flood hazard mitigation projects; support and incorporate community-led visioning in project design; address interconnected issues like transportation, food security, and affordable housing where appropriate; and establish safeguards to hold project sponsors accountable. In response, American Rivers is working in Illinois to develop a multi-benefit floodplain development program that focuses on 1) Public safety in the face of climate change, 2) Ensuring equitable project outcomes, and 3) Addressing the extinction crisis. 

Illinois Forest Preserve and Conservation District Professionals: New Professional Development Opportunities Designed for You!  - Friday 2/18

Monica Meyers, Executive Director for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County; Lynn Rotunno, Membership Manager IPRA; Duane Smith, Education Director, IPRA 
Learn about new professional development and networking opportunities designed specifically for Illinois forest preserve and conservation district professionals available through the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA). IPRA is a nationally recognized state-wide professional association for people who work in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation fields. Led by conservation professionals, the new IPRA Forest Preserve & Conservation special interest Section is developing exciting new continuing education and networking opportunities including virtual Learning Labs, educational field tours to share best management practices and scientific research, conservation-focused sessions at IPRA’s annual state conference, field-specific in-person and online networking opportunities, and access to other career development resources. Come join us and learn how IPRA can help with your professional development needs! 


2022 IACD Conference

February 17&18, 2022

Starved Rock State Park

The IACD Conference will return February 17th and 18th, 2022.  Our conferences are an intimate gathering of friends and professionals dedicated to conservation management and education. You are invited to join us at the 2022 IACD Conference for presentations that matter, to network with other professionals, and have fun with like minded friends.