Summit Programming

Types of Programming:

The Summit features a Keynote Speaker with expertise in a topic relevant to nature and environmental learning center leaders.

The Summit offers half- and full-day Workshops on Thursday that you will pre-register for. They are led by one or two professionals and are designed in the more traditional conference style. Some of these workshops are "in-the-field" workshops. These ANCA In-the-Field Workshops will take participants to several nature sites in the Rio Grande Valley. The nature centers of the Rio Grande Valley have a variety of missions, priorities, and issues. These trips are designed to delve into a particular topic that these sites or organizations focus on particularly well. Visits to the sites will feature site staff discussing their history and expertise and will include some time for participants to explore the site on their own or talk to staff further about their operation.

Workshop Sessions allow participants the opportunity to learn about new programs and ideas. These 90-minute sessions allow for presentation time and dialogue among the group.

Facilitated Discussions are a hallmark of the ANCA Summit. The primary presenter is more a moderator, rather than a single voice, and guides the exchange of ideas based around the topic title. Participants will enrich the discussion by contributing ideas and experiences. The result is a synergistic dialogue that allows for an abundance of perspectives, possibilities, and energy. During the 90-minute discussion, participants will have the opportunity to explore various topics more in depth. Have an idea for a Facilitated Discussion? Interested in moderating? Apply here

Open Space Sessions provide an opportunity for participants to create their own meeting, continue a session that needs more time, or find a group to address an issue that was not presented elsewhere during the Summit. In the Open Space Meeting, Summit participants will gather and collectively design the session topics that will be offered during Saturday afternoon. We ask, however, that all attendees bring to the meeting those topics that they feel will be relevant and meaningful to themselves and the group.

Pre- and Post-Summit Field Trips. Don’t leave the Rio Grande Valley without time spent exploring the local flora, fauna, food, and culture of the area! ANCA Summit Field Trips offer the chance to add to your professional development experience while taking advantage of unique opportunities to visit additional nature education sites, spend time with local experts, and interact with your peers. These field trips were designed with ANCA members in mind and should not be missed!

2018 DREAM BIG Summit Keynote Speaker: Dr. Douglas Tallamy

Dr. Douglas Tallamy 2018 ANCA Summit Keynote Speaker

Wednesday 9/19 Pre-Summit Field Trips:

Ethnobotany of the Rio Grande Valley – Rancho Lomitas
7:30am – 2:00pm, Cost $60, lunch included
Head to the western part of the Rio Grande Valley and learn about how local people survived in the arid brushlands of south Texas for centuries by using native plants and local landscapes. Local ethnobotanist Benito Treviño will take participants on a leisurely tour of his 200 acre ranch as he describes how his family used native plants to cope with the hardships of a harsh landscape. This trip offers a very unique look into the Rio Grande Valley's past and its unique culture. Rancho Lomitas is also a birding hotspot for the area. Audubon’s Orioles, Green Jays, and Roadrunners are known to frequent the ranch headquarters. 

Birds, Butterflies, and Botanas!
8:00am – 2:00pm, Cost $40, lunch included
Description: Get a taste of local culture through its nature and its food! Take a trip to the Rio Grande River at the Hidalgo Pumphouse and get a glimpse into the area's agricultural past and present state of affairs along the Rio Grande River. Photo op next to the section of border wall at the Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center possible during this trip. The group will also visit the National Butterfly Center to view the wide variety of birds and butterflies in the RGV at this time of year.  Stop at a well-known restaurant for botanas (fajita sampler plate) or other local foods. Birds and butterflies possible during this trip include Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca, Altamira Oriole, Olive Sparrow, Malachite, Mexican Bluewing and many more!

South Padre Island Beach Goodies Trip
8:00am – 4:00pm, Cost $60, lunch included
Description: Dip your toes in the Gulf of Mexico OR jump in completely! Visit Sea Turtle Inc, a sea turtle rescue sanctuary in operation since 1977, and South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Kayak in the Laguna Madre or cross the street and do some beach lounging and birding. South Padre Island is the longest barrier island in the world, a popular tourist destination, and a vastly important stopover for migratory birds. Experience beach life with a variety of options during this field trip.

King Ranch Half-Day Trip
7:00am – 2:00pm, Cost $80, lunch included
Description: Explore the legendary King Ranch with the ranch's own resident naturalists! This bucket list tour will visit the remote & unique Norias division of the vast King Ranch in search of a variety of ranchland birds such as White-tailed Hawk, Greater Roadrunner, Vermillion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, and a rare south Texas resident: the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. While there is an abundance of native wildlife, you might also get a glimpse of an exotic mammal that roams this section of the ranch, the Nilgai Antelope. The Norias division is located within the south Texas sand sheet ecological area so the habitats encountered will also be quite special. Special pricing has been included for the ANCA Summit so don't miss this great opportunity. Picnic lunch included.

Thursday 9/20, Workshops:

ANCA In-The-Field Workshops

The three ANCA In-the-Field Workshops will take participants to several nature sites in the Rio Grande Valley. The nature centers of the Rio Grande Valley have a variety of missions, priorities, and issues. These trips are designed to delve into a particular topic that these sites or organizations focus on particularly well. Visits to the sites will feature site staff discussing their history and expertise and will include some time for participants to explore the site on their own or talk to staff further about their operation.

Habitat Management and Re-vegetation: Keeping the sub-tropics in Texas
Time: 8:00am-1:00pm
Description: With agriculture and trading booming in the RGV since the 1920’s, quality habitat for the area’s plants and animals is an extremely valuable resource. During the late 1980’s, there was as little as 1% native habitat left along the Rio Grande River and only 5% old-growth habitat in the rest of the RGV. This session will tour some of the areas that have been converted from agricultural land back to habitat by US Fish and Wildlife Service and local nature sites. This trip will also tour the US Fish and Wildlife Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR Nursery that grows thousands of native seedlings per year for re-vegetation efforts. If you choose this workshop you will return to Quinta Mazatlan in time to take an afternoon workshop.

Rio Grande Valley Environmental Education: Crossing barriers on the border
Time: 8:00am- 3:00pm
Description: With almost 400,000 K-12 local students, several RGV nature centers and partners have robust EE programs. Begin at Quinta Mazatlan to discuss their vertical learning program for local 3rd, 5th, 7th grade and High School students before visiting the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and WBC to learn about their 5th Grade Wetlands Program in its 13th year that serves 2,500 5th graders annually from the Edinburg ISD. A stop at the Pharr – San Juan – Alamo ISD will feature Schoolyard Habitats at local schools in partnership with US Fish and Wildlife. A stop at Valley Nature Center in Weslaco will highlight programs and camps for special needs students and other unique user groups.

Eco-tourism in the RGV: Marketing and managing birders
8:00am- 2:00pm
Description: Birders, butterfliers, nature photographers, and other eco-tourists visit the Rio Grande Valley from all over the world for a unique nature experience. While RGV eco-tourism is widespread, certain sites have become magnets for birds and eco-tourists. Visit well-known sites and get a behind the scenes look at interpretive programs, volunteer programs, and other eco-tourism based operations. Nancy Millar, longtime eco-tourism specialist with McAllen CVB will discuss RGV eco-tourism history and John Brush, Quinta Mazatlan Urban Ecologist, will share information on the economic impact of rare birds and designing spaces for birds and birders. Site visits include Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Estero Llano Grande State Park. Each of these sites will discuss effective ways to communicate and manage groups with a special interest.

Full-Day On-Site 

Strategies for Recruiting the Board You Need and Will Need
9:00am- 4:30pm
Description: We expect most Board members to be “plug-and-play” leaders – all they need is a two-hour orientation session, and they’ll be good to go. Yet most of us realize that it can take months if not years for new people – even staff – to fully understand how the “business of our Nature and the nature of our Business” actually works. How can we compress this learning curve?
Join organizational development and fundraising expert David Allen as we examine every step of the board experience and explore succession planning and leadership development from the inside out. We’ll talk about how to find Board members, qualities of a good Board member, and the Job Description. We’ll share tools for approaching this important work objectively and systematically. We’ll talk about recruiting diversity – how to recruit a Board that represents the community in which you work. And we’ll offer and consider five fresh ideas for identifying, training, and empowering the Board leaders you need – both now and into the future.
Presenter: Development for Conservation helps environmental/conservation organizations raise money from individual donors by improving renewal, cultivation, and major gift systems. David Allen brings 30 years’ experience to the practice, including thirteen with The Nature Conservancy. He has devoted his professional career to helping conservation organizations, including several Nature Centers, pursue excellence in all aspects of their endeavors. David is a skilled seminar presenter, particularly in major gift fundraising. Specialties include Development Audits, Board training, and campaigns.

Half-Day Morning On-Site

Grassroots to Grasstops Advocacy Campaigns
9:00am- 12:00pm
Description: Advocacy is critical to influencing policy.  But advocacy takes on several different forms – some effective and some not.  We will explore how to channel your advocacy for your issues in an efficient way by maximizing your time and that of your organization. We will dive into the difference between different types of advocacy and their best practices. We will also discuss the role of communications and relating to the media. Finally, we will discuss all things social media and how to determine the best set up for your issue.
Presenters: Amber Hausenfluck is a Vice President of State Government Relations at McGuireWoods Consulting LLC where she assists clients with traditional advocacy, lobbying, and government relations services in matters before the Texas Legislature and regulatory agencies. She most recently worked as deputy legislative director for state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. In her time at the Capitol, Amber staffed the Senator on the State Affairs, Business and Commerce, Transportation, and Intergovernmental Relations committees. Amber also has statewide campaign experience, having served on Senator Van de Putte's campaign for Texas Lieutenant Governor in 2014. Amber was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley.
Cait Meisenheimer is a Vice President of State Government Relations at McGuireWoods Consulting LLC where she focuses on executing elements of grassroots, public relations, communications, and digital marketing campaigns in addition to providing strategic content development services for clients. Prior to joining McGuireWoods Consulting, she served as deputy press secretary to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. In that capacity she acted as a chief spokesperson in the State Capitol. She has significant political and state government experience, having worked in various communications and administrative positions in both the Texas Legislature and other local, state and national campaigns.
Tony Gius is a Vice President in the MWC Advocacy group where he specializes in managing grassroots and grasstops programs for associations and corporations. He has managed campaigns for companies such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and Disney, and campaigns for associations such as and the Texas Cultural Trust. He has vast political campaign experience including working on two successful presidential campaigns, several statewide campaigns, and at the White House Office of Political Affairs through the National Committee.

Generational, Cultural, and Personality Differences in the Workplace
Time: 9:00am-12:00pm
This workshop discusses Hofstede's Cultural Theory and how it relates to customer service issues and interpersonal issues that arise in the workplace. It discusses the different dimensions of culture comparing two cultures, the American culture and the Mexican culture and how the differences and similarities are rife for creating problems in the workplace. The Big Five (Factor Five) Personality Theory is discussed and how those dimensions of personality are so important in staffing decisions, promotions, job fit, and customer services. Traditional, Generation X, and Millennial Generations and the dynamics they bring to the workplace are also discussed.  Now you put all three into one model and you have an approximation of the complexities that is the workplace.
Participants will work through a case that involves all three components in one model and get a feel for the challenges that leaders face in the world that is the workplace.
You will learn:

  • Define, learn, and analyze cultural dimensions and how they can affect interpersonal and intrapersonal relations in the workplace.
  • Define, learn, and analyze personality dimensions and how they can affect interpersonal and intrapersonal relations in the workplace.
  • Define, learn, and analyze generational differences and how they can affect interpersonal and intrapersonal relations in the workplace.
  • Combining all three theoretical perspectives to address interpersonal and intrapersonal issues that ultimately affect productivity in the workplace.

Presenter: Dr. Ruben Flores is a Professor in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational program in South Texas College. He also teaches in the Master of Business Administration program of a local university. His experience in teaching has been at the secondary level and at the higher education level. He has a Masters in Public Administration, Masters in Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Business Organizational Leadership. He has worked in the criminal justice field both in law enforcement and corrections. He has also held positions in the healthcare field where he was an administrator in physician medical practices and in hospitals where he managed medical staff offices and physician-hospital organizations. He holds a license in insurance adjusting and owns an independent insurance adjusting firm. He is also a certified mediator and acts as the representing adjuster in insurance mediations working on behalf of insurance companies.

Half-Day Afternoon On-Site

Dreaming Big and Getting the Grant to Implement It
1:30pm- 4:30pm
Description: This two-part participatory program will unpack the strategies, logistics, and best practices involved in preparing successful IMLS grant applications. With a sharp focus on nature center needs, we will examine the process in manageable units, from articulating a project justification, defining appropriately scaled activities, and drafting a budget to defining a strategy for measuring project results. Then we will switch gears, and using abbreviated examples of actual applications from nature centers, we will replicate peer review panel activities in small groups so that participants can develop a solid understanding of what’s involved in the analysis and evaluation of competitive, fundable applications. At each stage, there will be opportunities to brainstorm ideas, draft application elements, discuss our reactions, and ask questions. Bring your project ideas or plan to create them on site with your colleagues. Participants will receive sets of worksheets and PowerPoint slides for the day’s activities as well as for future reference.
Presenter: Connie Bodner is a Supervisory Grants Management Specialist at the Institute of Museum and Library Services and co-leads a team of museum professionals who coordinate IMLS’s discretionary grant programs in conservation, preservation, collections management, community engagement, and learning for museums of every size and focus across the country. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia as well as a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her academic research interests have concentrated on the development of intensive agricultural systems in Southeast Asia and more broadly the coevolution of plants and humans through time and space. Her museum experience includes educational programming, collections care, and administration in science-, nature center-, art-, and history-focused environments.  

Building Organizational Capacity
Time: 1:30pm- 4:30pm
Description: Improving organizations is a surprisingly challenging undertaking. Even when we know what we want to be different, it can be immensely difficult to implement the change we seek. This workshop lays out a process for organization leaders who want to get better at getting better by systematically assessing seven research-based organizational capacities for improvement. This interactive workshop take a deep dive into two of these capacities, Leadership and Equity & Inclusion, and provides an overview of the other five capacities and a process for addressing them. Participants will also take part in small group discussion with peers and leave the workshop with the BEETLES Capacity Building Tool in hand.
Presenters:  Jedda Foreman is the Manager of the BEETLES project where she directs the BEETLES effort to advance equity and inclusion in environmental education. Kevin Beals is the director and co-founder of the BEETLES project. He has worked for the Lawrence Hall of Science since 1988 and published over 100 curriculum guides, children’s books, and professional learning resources. 

The Need for Nature Centers in Monarch Conservation
Time: 1:30pm- 4:30pm

  • To make the case that monarch conservation programs are fundamental to Nature Centers’ programming.
  • To provide tools and information that will help Nature Centers to engage in monarch and pollinator conservation efforts.

This workshop will illustrate threats to Monarch butterflies throughout North America and the conservation efforts that Nature Centers can implement to ensure healthy populations of these iconic butterflies. The workshop will emphasize resources that are already available to help Nature Centers accomplish their conservation goals.
Presenters: Ben Eldredge is the Director of Adult Education at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. In this capacity he oversees the adult education, citizen science programs, land stewardship, the creation of a nature-based school, as well as a significant program expansion to the neighboring Herff Farm, including agriculture and land restoration education. Through Ben’s efforts, the Cibolo Nature Center became a founding member of the Monarch Joint Venture and has facilitated outreach to over 15,000 individuals annually. Prior to working at the nature center, Ben was the manager of a 5,000-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country. He has a degree in Environmental Studies from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in New York State.
Dr. Rebeca Quiñonez-Piñón has over 30 years of experience in forest and water conservation in Canada and Mexico. More recently, she worked on monarch conservation efforts through forest restoration and sustainable management within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. In November of 2014, she joined the National Wildlife Federation as the Monarch Outreach Coordinator, and her main focus is on helping the different monarch conservation networks in Texas to accomplish the implementation of their monarch conservation actions.  

Friday 9/21 & Saturday 9/22 sessions and discussions:

Leading Your City to Urban Sustainability
Presenters: McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith 

10 Years at the Leopold Legacy Center: Looking Back Looking Ahead
Presenters: Joel Krueger and Adam Voltz of The Kubala Washatko Architects 

123 Ecology
Presenter: Jacob Blue, PLA of Ayres Associates

Outdoor Classrooms: Design Dialogue on Purpose, Placement, Program, and Functionality
Presenters: Mike Fraze and Andrew Duggan of Studio Outside 

Improving the Visitor and Staff Experience: Strategies for Evaluating and Planning Technology Solutions
Presenter: David Mimeles of Doubleknot

Connecting Deeply With Nature Through Science
Presenters: Jedda Foreman and Kevin Beals of BEETLES 

From Now to Wow! Improving the Nature Center Experience through Signage & Interpretive Graphics
Presenters: Chris Frison, SEGD and Grady Brown, SEGD of iZone Imaging

The Benefits of Electronic Health Records at Camp
Presenter: Alex Goren from CampDoc 

How to Ask for Major Gifts – Roleplay-based session on getting through the Ask
Presenter: David Allen of Conservation for Development

Using iNaturalist at Your Nature Center
Presenters: Sam Kieschnick and Dr. Tania Homayoun of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Building Power and Influence for Nature Center Directors – Create Your Winner’s Circle
Presenters: Panel Discussion of proven leaders facilitated by Kitty Pochman

…Plus the Following Topics…

Staff Recruitment and Retention
Work-Life Balance Strategies
Retirement 101: How to Get Ready
EE Training for your Teaching Staff
Nature Preschool…Right for You?
Community Based Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation
Meaningful Social Media Engagement
The Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Nature Education Site Model
Program Fee Structures
Attracting New Audiences
Making the Tough HR Decisions
Budgeting 101
New Leaders – Meet Your Peers
Rental Income and Policies 

…and Much More! Don’t see the topic you need? Come to Saturday afternoon’s Open Space to propose a session!

Further information will be available soon - check back often! 

Sunday 9/23 Post Summit Field Trips:

RGV Bucket List Birding
Time: 7:00am – 6:00pm, Cost $60, lunch included
Description: Don’t miss this Rio Grande Valley Birding Big Day adventure with local birders. This trip will find as many Rio Grande Valley Specialty Birds and any migrating birds as they make their way south for the winter. Begin at Bentsen RGV State Park and bird the entrance gardens and nature center in search of Clay-colored Thrush, Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole, Long-billed Thrasher and Curve-billed Thrashers. Stop at Santa Ana NWR for more riparian and forest species before heading to Estero Llano Grande State Park for Least Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Pauraque, Green and Ringed Kingfishers. Enjoy a box lunch at Estero and then head to the coast for migrating song birds and shorebirds. Locations may vary according to where the birds are.

Palms and Parrots of Brownsville
: 3:00pm – 8:30pm, Cost $40, dinner included
Description: Visit one of the last Sabal Palm forests along the Rio Grande with past ANCA Board Member Jimmy Paz. Tour a recently restored plantation house and the Sabal Palm forest for a unique sub-tropical experience. Enjoy a picnic dinner before visiting Oliveira Park - known for its raucous nightly parrot spectacle. Over Two hundred parrots (Red-crowned, White-fronted, Red-lored, Yellow-headed Parrots) gather here every night in the trees above the park to the delight of many visiting birders. Learn about the efforts to protect Red-crowned Parrots, a native species to the area and possible endangered species candidate.

Monday 9/24 Post-Summit Field Trips:

Fistful of Bucket List Birds
7:00am - 10:45am, Cost $20
Description: Before your flight back home, take some time to meet some of the Rio Grande Valley resident birds face to face as local bird banding legend Mark Conway continues his urban bird banding project at Quinta Mazatlán. Great Kiskadees, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Plain Chachalacas, and perhaps a bird rare to the area can be closely examined before being released back into the local habitat.

New this Year: Mini-Cultural Activities:

Morning Nature Tours at Quinta Mazatlan
Time: 7:00am-8:00am; Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Early Birds!
Tour Guide               John Brush, QM Urban Ecologist & McAllen Nature Center
Description              Walk with experienced birders through Quinta’s trails to search for birds of the Thornforest.

Ethnobotany Walk
Tour Guide               Quinta Mazatlán and Edinburg Scenic Wetlands
Description              Stroll through Quinta’s trails to learn which plants early cultures (people & wildlife) used for food, shelter, and medicine.

Healing in Nature
Presenter                  Sabrina Lartz, QM Yoga Instructor & McAllen Nature Center
Description              Breathe in…nature. Breathe out….stress. Start your day with an hour of yoga in the park.

Afternoon Fun Cultural Classes at Quinta Mazatlan

Welcome to the Lower Rio Grande Valley!                                       Wed-Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  Carol Goolsby, Quinta Mazatlán Education Supervisor
Description              Meet at the Discovery Center-Capture the “big picture” and the uniqueness of the LRGV in this presentation introducing the Valley’s land, topography, soils, water, and animals, using a large-scale Google Earth topographical model of the region. 

Not-so-Early Birds!                                                                           Wed-Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  John Brush, Quinta Mazatlán Urban Ecologist
Description              Meet in the Cottage for a show of the Valley’s unique bird species. (Description coming)

Quinta Mazatlán Historic Home & Mexican Folk Art Room               Wed-Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  Victor De Leon, Quinta Mazatlán Historian
Description               Quinta’s historian will guide you on a tour of the historic home, with its unique Spanish colonial architecture…including a tour of the Ann Moore Mexican Folk Art room.

Agave/Yucca Rope-Making                                                                 Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  Joe Zuniga, Quinta Mazatlán Survivor Camp Guide
Description              Meet at the Discovery Center-Learn how early Rio Grande cultures used fibrous Yucca and Agave plants to weave into rope.

Palm Frond Painting                                                                            Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  Quinta Mazatlán Staff
Description              Let your creativity go-- paint on the LRGV’s popular renewable resource: Palm Fronds! No art experience necessary. (Yours frondly.)

Talavera Tile Painting                                                                           Thurs-Fri
Presenter                  Quinta Mazatlán Staff
Description              The historic home is designed with custom hand-painted Talavera Tile from Puebla, Mexico. Relax and have fun painting your own tile to take home.

Prickly Pear Jelly Making                                                                      Thurs-Fri
LOCATION                Discovery Museum
Presenter                  Carol Goolsby, Quinta Mazatlán & Christa Lee
Description              Experienced jelly-makers share their tricks to de-spining the fruit of the prickly pear, then cooking up its juices into a jelly with a flavor unlike any other fruit. Sample it served in some unusual ways.

Evenings in the Park 
Time: 9:00pm-10:30pm; Wed-Thurs-Fri

Starlight Chats- bring a guitar and your stories

Cultural Dance Gathering- each evening will feature a different cultural genre (flamenco, country, mariachi)