Registration is closed for the 2019 conference! Although we are excited the 2019 conference was so popular that it sold out, we are unable to take more registrations. Please check back later this year for information on the 2020 conference. When you attend IACD conferences, remember, overnight accommodations are separate from conference fees and are the responsibility of the attendee.

IACD Partner Agency Employees & Individual Members:  Registration Closed

Non Members:  Registration Closed

To download a printable, mail-in registration form click here.

If your agency would like to inquire about a group/agency commitment to attend, email us at info@iacd.online, or call Tina at (815) 547-7935.


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.

2019 Presentation Topics​

Keynote Speaker: Jacques Nuzzo - Illinois Raptor Center

Mr. Nuzzo's presentation, "Short-eared Owls: Ghosts in the Grass," details a two year study which partnered with USDA APHIAS and the University of Illinois Springfield. The study trapped and attached radio transmitters to Short-eared Owls during winters at a 600 acre site near Sibley, Illinois. Mr. Nuzzo will cover the history of Short-eared Owls, the challenges of studying them, and the future of the study including advances in technology. Mr. Nuzzo wears many hats with the Illinois Raptor Center. He is the Program Director, a Founding Member, Master Falconer, State and Federal Wildlife Rehabilitator, Conservation Educator, Eagle and Endangered Species Rehabilitation and Education, Challenge Course Facilitator, Climbing Instructor, and a Recreational Tree Climber.

Dinner Speaker: Christopher David Benda (aka Illinois Botanizer)

Join Chris Benda (a.k.a. Illinois Botanizer) for a delightful presentation about plants. Chris has been teaching about plants for over 10 years and during that time developed a unique teaching style that includes lots of puns, jokes, and whimsical pop culture references. This presentation will keep you entertained and equipped with fun ways to teach others about plants. 

New for 2019!

Pre-Conference Workshop: Chainsaw Safety and Tree Assessment

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

This workshop will cover personal protective equipment and safe work habits while using a chainsaw. We will discuss basic chainsaw maintenance and care as well as common chainsaw repairs and sharpening. We will discuss different cutting and felling techniques and when it is appropriate to use them. The class will then move outside and discuss tree risk assessment. This workshop will be held indoors and outdoors, so dress accordingly. Participants will not be using chainsaws and do not need to bring their own chainsaws or equipment.

Oak Fire Ecology and Management
Dr. Daniel Dey, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service
Dr. Daniel Dey will cover basic oak ecology and the use of fire management for forest regeneration and woodland/savanna dynamics. Dr. Dan Dey is a Research Forester for the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, located in Columbia, MO. He is also Project Leader of a research unit that studies the ecology and sustainable management of Central Hardwood Forest ecosystems.

Wildlife Monitoring and Habitat Management
Aarron “Ace” Minson, Natural Areas Technician, Boone County Conservation District; Patrick McCrea, Restoration Ecologist, DeKalb County Forest Preserve
Providing justification and methods for minimally-staffed land management agencies to monitor wildlife and make informed habitat management decisions.

The State of Illinois Invasive Plants
Mike Daab, Director of Natural Resources, Champaign County Forest Preserve Districts
We all know invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to our natural areas. Daab will address what are the latest invasive plants on the move into and across the state, what is currently being done to address them, and how can we improve our success in natural areas management.

The Status and Management of Bald Eagles Within the Midwest
Ryan Anthony, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Birds and Eagle Biologist
This session will cover the listing, delisting, and post-delisting history of the bald eagles along with changes in population numbers. Information on how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presently manage bald eagles and challenges going forward will also be shared.

Trails, It’s Complicated
Josh Sage and Nick Sheppard, Boone County Conservation District
Managing a trail system comes with many challenges. In this session we will discuss a number of these challenges. Topics will include: trail maintenance and trail building technique, serving multiple users, considering natural areas and wildlife habitat when planning, and communication and accessibility for local emergency personnel.

Emerging Diseases in Illinois Herps and How We May be Changing Our Definition of Health
Dr. Matt Allender, Wildlife Veterinarian, Director of the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab, University of Illinois, Urbana
Deteriorating wildlife health threatens the sustainability and successfulness of conservation efforts in Illinois. Techniques that characterize wellness in wildlife utilize specific biomedical tests, and while bloodwork and infectious disease data have been used as a means of determining the wellness of free-ranging herp populations, none have been critically evaluated. Several infectious diseases have been proposed as a threat to biodiversity and affect free-ranging herps including ranavirus, chytridiomycosis, and Ophidiomyces (Snake Fungal Disease). Diagnostic tests for these pathogens revolve around molecular detection (PCR), but the relationship of the pathogen to the animal’s response is unknown. It is clear that a multi-modal approach to herp wellness is required to better characterize these diseases, and the need to integrate conventional biomedical tests with ecological and management data has never been more important. This presentation will discuss current knowledge of diseases in Illinois and how management efforts can begin to integrate this data into existing projects.

Tools of the Trade: Herbicide Application
Josh Clark, Natural Resource Manager, DeKalb County Forest Preserve; Kaleb Baker, Northern Illinois University Graduate Student
This presentation will cover herbicide use, safety, personal protective equipment, new chemicals, gadgets, new application methods, and trends in the industry. Kaleb Baker will also present on his yearlong study using Garlon 4 on Honeysuckle at Nachusa grasslands. He will discuss application methods, control success, and habitat response. 

Jumping Worms: Ecology, Impacts, and Implications for Illinois
Christopher Evans,
Extension Forester, UIUC NRES

Jumping worms, a compilation of closely related exotic earthworms, are invading Illinois. They have been found throughout the state. This presentation will discuss how to recognize jumping worms, what type of damage they can do to natural and managed systems, and what is currently being done to address them in Illinois.

An Overview of the Illinois Land and Water Reserve Program

John C. Nelson, Natural Areas Protection Specialist, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Nelson will give an overview of the Land and Water Reserve Program of the Illinois Nature Preserves System. It is well-known among members of the "conservation community" that dedicated nature preserves in Illinois are afforded the highest level of legal land protection status within the state. But what about Land and Water Reserves? Are lands registered as Land and Water Reserves afforded similar legal protections? What are the benefits of registration? These and other aspects of the Land and Water Reserve Program will be addressed with an emphasis on land management and protection challenges for Conservation Districts. 

Return of Large Predators . . . Or Are They?
Peggy S. Doty, Educator, Environmental and Energy Stewardship, University of Illinois Extension
There are many reasons, scientific and unknown, why we are seeing the occasional large mammal in Illinois. The black bear, timber wolf, and cougar have all made cameo appearances in recent months and have been doing so for more than a decade. Before we settled the area in the early 1800s, these animals lived here. Our cultural advancements and changes have escorted these species away from what used to be their native habitat. Except for a small percentage, Illinois habitats are currently unable to sustain complete or large populations of these large mammals. Those who can adapt to less fitting ecosystems may try to spend some time back in their homeland. These animals aren’t planning a covert return and takeover of our communities. The animals are simply trying to adjust to changes in their current environments which can send them in our direction. Due to the sightings of cougars, wolves, and even black bears in Illinois, this program is being offered to discuss the animals themselves and the behaviors that may be playing a part in their attempts to return. Join Peggy Doty to learn more about these creatures.​

The Write Stuff: Best Practices for Exceptional Exhibit Text
Leah Rainey, Interpretive Planner, Taylor Studios, Inc.
This interactive session will explore tried-and-true techniques for writing clear, engaging exhibit copy—from laying essential groundwork to polishing final text. Participants will learn: 1) the fundamentals of interpretive themes, including what they are and why they matter), 2) how to achieve a writing style that's appropriate for your audience and content, 3) simple tips for highly effective editing, and 4) where to find wonderful (and free!) writing resources.

The Search for Bombus affinis: How a Team of Researchers Scientifically Established a Species’ Decline

Isaac J. Stewart, Instructor of Biology at Black Hawk College East Campus
Honey bees have been dominating the recent news regarding the current pollinator crisis. While honey bees remain vital to Illinois agriculture, native bees remain vital to Illinois’ diverse ecosystems and agriculture. Thankfully, a native bumble bee, Bombus affinis, recently made it to the Endangered Species List in part due to the efforts of a team of researchers that set out to find solid evidence of native pollinator decline in the U.S. This session tells the story of how it was shown that the rusty patched bumble bee abundance has declined 96% in the last 20 years. Implications for pollinator diversity in Illinois will also be considered.

Have an idea for conservation related presentation projects? Interested as serving as a presenter? Email us at info@iacd.online 

The 2019 IACD Conference will be held at Starved Rock State Park, February 21st and 22nd, 2019. Our annual conference is an intimate gathering of friends and professionals dedicated to conservation management and education. The 2019 conference has reached full capacity. We are unable to take any further registrations. You are invited to join us at the 2020 IACD Conference for presentations that matter, to network with other professionals, and have fun with like minded friends.

2019 IACD Conference

February 21 & 22ND

Starved Rock State Park