Our Conference

June 3-4, 2014
Stonewall Jackson Hotel, Staunton, VA

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Thank you to our sponsors

$10,000 and above

  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • The Campbell Foundation


  • Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park
  • Chesapeake Bay Funders Network
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Town Creek Foundation


  • Rauch Foundation
  • Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
  • U.S. EPA 


  • Chesapeake Bay Trust
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • Potomac Conservancy
  • Prince Charitable Trusts
  • Straughan Environmental
  • The Hatcher Group
  • Piedmont Environmental Council


  • Anacostia Watershed Society
  • Audubon Naturalist Society
  • Chesapeake Legal Alliance
  • Clean Water Action
  • Delaware Nature Society
  • Filterra Bioretention Systems
  • James River Association
  • Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  • National Aquarium
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • PennFuture
  • Shenandoah Valley Network
  • Virginia Conservation Network
  • West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Links to all of the conference presentations can be found below. Click on the presenter's name to see their PowerPoint presentation. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

8:30 a.m.

Registration Opens

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.

Welcome, Virginia State Senator Emmett Hanger, Jr.

9:15 – 9:45 a.m.

Nancy Stoner, EPA Acting Administrator for Water: Why Waters of the U.S. Matters in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Plenary: The Shenandoah Perspective – Protecting our Headwaters

  • Moderator: Kate Wofford, Shenandoah Valley Network
  • Panelists: Lynn Cameron, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain
  • Nancy Sorrells, Staunton historian and freelance writer
  • Dennis Burnett, Shenandoah Valley Partnership
  • Bobby Whitescarver, Natural Resources Management

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Panels and Workshops

Listening to Farmers

  • Moderator: Libby Norris, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Panelists: Gerald Garber, dairy farmer
  • Anthony Beery, crop farmer
  • Ray “Buff” Showalter, beef farmer
  • Craig Miller, poultry farmer

Panel members represent a wide variety of agricultural operations, including dairy, beef, poultry, and crop farming from the Shenandoah River Valley. Topics will include brief descriptions of their farms, the best management practices they have installed to protect local water quality, the challenges of installing best management practices, and working within a TMDL watershed. 

Stream Protection and Stormwater Management Programs

  • Moderator: Stella Koch, Audubon Naturalist Society
  • Panelists: Adam Ortiz, Prince Georges County DER
  • Eric Curren, Staunton City Council
  • Alison Teetor, Clarke County Natural Resources Planner

Three panelists will discuss their localities stormwater programs: describing the health of their streams and their stormwater runoff problems, their management tools and their programs. Discussion will focus on how programs are funded and citizen involvement.

Crisis Communications

During this session, you will learn how to mount an effective crisis communications response through messaging, press releases, and Q&As. You will also hear from colleagues in West Virginia and Virginia who have experienced their own crises, and learn how they handled it -- what worked and what didn't -- as well as what they would do differently.

Social Media in Successful Communications Campaigns

Effective communication is a critical point of any successful campaign. We will show participants how to best use social media to advance organization or campaign goals. We’ll focus on setting up your social media campaign, developing and reaching the right audiences, tools you can use, and measuring effectiveness. Based on real examples, we’ll show how social media has helped move the needle on specific environmental campaigns and how it has been an effective tool for reaching and influencing decision-makers.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.


Speaker: Brian Richter, Nature Conservancy

Worsening water shortages – caused by growing demands and competition for limited water supplies, inefficient and wasteful use of water, pollution, and exacerbated by climate change – are undermining economic productivity, human health, food supplies, political stability, and freshwater ecosystems. This presentation will highlight some of the most promising solutions, ranging from water policy reforms to improvements in water-use efficiency. The role of citizen stakeholders and advocacy organizations in advancing these initiatives – and ways to empower them to act – will also be emphasized.

2:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Field trips

Tour of a Working Farm and Successful Riparian Forest Planting

This tour will take you to a working farm within the city limits of Staunton, VirginiaBells Lane Farm is a stellar example of a diversified operation combining agri-tourism, beef cattle, compost, lumber, vegetables and stewardship of the land and water. This 250-acre farm has 30 acres of riparian forest buffers planted in 1999, which are protected forever with one of the first riparian easements in Virginia.  There are many conservation practices on the farm including rotational grazing, contour farming, wildlife habitat management, and of course, riparian forest buffers.

Walking tour of Staunton

Join with local guides on walking/bus tour of “The Queen City – Staunton, Virginia”.  Founded in 1747, the City is renowned for its appreciation of history and architecture. Lesser known, but equally important, are the city, private individual and group efforts to improve and protect the natural environment of this jurisdiction. The tour will focus on these, with a bit of history and local lore thrown in for good measure. The last stop on the tour will be at the newest adventure into artisan brews, Redbeard Company Brewing.

Mossy Creek Stream Restoration Field Trip

Trout Unlimited and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries staff will lead participants on a site visit to a recently completed stream restoration project on Mossy Creek in Augusta County. During the trip TU and VDGIF staff will cover the genesis of the project and the some of the challenges during design and construction; show examples of the natural channel design restoration techniques used, and explain the current management strategy for this unique special regulation fishery.

Biking through George Washington National Forest

Local historian and bicycle enthusiast Nancy Sorrells will lead conference attendees on a short bike ride to learn more about the history of the city's water partnership forged deep in the national forest. The 5.3-mile ride begins at Elkhorn Lake, a reservoir and flood control lake created in the 1963. We will ride 4.3 miles to the Staunton dam. While at the dam, we will walk to the top of the dam to hear more details about the amazing story of the dam construction. We will also look at the tunnel where the pipe to Staunton is located.

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.


6:45 – 10:00 p.m.

Awards Dinner

Frontier and Culture Museum

Keynote Speaker: Rev. Shelton Miles

Shelton Miles of Campbell County, Virginia is a full-time pastor and a full-time farmer (pastured beef) who has made major contributions to water quality in Virginia. After serving on several regulatory advisory committees for the State Water Control Board, he was appointed to the Board by Governor Warner, and reappointed by Governor Kaine. He served as Chair, 2006-2012.

He has served as chair of the Roanoke River Basin Commission Citizens' Committee, the Staunton River Citizens' PCB Advisory Committee, the Citizens for the Preservation of the River (Staunton) and he has served as a board member of the Roanoke River Basin Association.

A few years ago when industry sought to reduce, dramatically, the power of the citizen air and water boards, Chairman Miles courageously stood up to concerted (often personal) attacks from legislators and others, eloquently defending the boards’ role as the voice of citizens in ensuring the protection of the Commonwealth’s streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.   

That the boards were preserved, and that he continued to serve with distinction on the water for many years thereafter, are a testament to his ability to make connections across philosophical divides, while being clear on his core values.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast Roundtable Discussions

  • Communicating about climate change
    Moderator: Claudia Friedetzky, Sierra Club Maryland
  • Economic impacts of drilling
    Moderator: Megan Gallagher, The Hillsdale Fund
  • Farm Bureau litigation
    Moderator:  Jon Mueller, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Federal policy update
    Moderator: Peter Marx, Choose Clean Water Coalition
  • Major donor cultivation
    Moderator: Rebecca Neumann, National Wildlife Federation
  • Stormwater success story in Maryland
    Moderator: Brent Bolin, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  • Sustainable building
    Moderator: Christy Everett
  • Waters of the U.S.
    Moderator: Ally Fields, Environment America
  • Chesapeake Institute for Grassroots Organizing (CIGO)
    Facilitators:  Heather Iliff and Caryn Anthony, Maryland Nonprofits

9:15 – 10:30 a.m.


Extreme Weather

  • Panelists: Ivor Van Heerden, Formly of Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes and former deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center
  • Nancy Hotchkiss, National Aquarium in Baltimore
  • Naomi Edelson, National Wildlife Federation
  • Brenna Goggin, Delaware Nature Society

10:45 a.m. – noon

Panels and Workshops

How Can We Reach Out Further to the Agricultural Community For Clean Water?

  • Moderator: Bobby Whitescarver
  • Panelists: Libby Norris, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Jared Parks, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
  • Matt Royer, Pennsylvania State College of Agricultural Sciences

Hear how organizations are reaching out to the agricultural community to increase conservation practices.

Finding Cost Effective Solutions to Reduce Polluted Runoff

  • Presenters: Dave Hirschman, Center for Watershed Protection
  • Adrienne Kotula, James River Association

The James River Association partnered with the Center for Watershed Protection to identify the most cost effective practices that localities can implement to achieve the necessary polluted runoff reductions to reach local water quality goals. We will discuss finding cost-effective stormwater retrofits in urban or agricultural landscapes. In addition, Dave will provide an update on the Center's Clean Water Optimization Tool for the Eastern Shore, MD. This tool will provide more flexible stormwater management, contains updated cost information, allows user inputs, and provides an optimization step for planning purposes. 

Understanding Storytelling: The What, Why, How and When of Telling True Stories that Support your Organization’s Goals and Mission

Storytelling has become so popular among business people, activists, fundraisers, change-makers, and thought leaders for this very reason: because relating to other people is how, in the end, you make a difference. In this interactive session, participants gain an understanding of the what, why, how, and when of storytelling: What are the qualities of a well-told story? Why are stories effective? How do you identify story material? Through lecture and demonstration, participants will leave with an understanding of narrative structure, the elements of a well-told story, and how to find story-source material from their own experiences.


Toxic Challenges and Opportunities to Address the Situation

  • Moderator: Jacob Powell, Virginia Conservation Network
  • Panelists: Peter DeFur, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Ryan Murphy, University of Richmond School of Law
  • Dennis Chestnut, Groundwork Anacostia

12:30 – 1:30


1:45 – 3:00 p.m.

Panels and Workshops

Water Reporter 2.0

  • Presenters: John Dawes, Jr., Chesapeake Commons

Pulling members from the audience, we will show how a citizen can use version 2.0 of Water Reporter to document pollution, share their report to social media outlets, automatically notify Waterkeepers or state agencies, and ensure the incident is remediated all with a few taps on their smartphone. Following the demonstration our team will share some insight on ways to effectively leverage open-source technologies to catalyze restoration outcomes. Our goal is to demonstrate how collaboration between environmental stakeholders and programmers can result in outcome oriented applications that create transparency, engages citizens, and expedites bay restoration.


Protecting Public Lands from the Impacts of Drilling

  • Moderator: John Dawes, Sr., Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
  • Panelists: Cindy Dunn, PennFuture
  • Jim Nations, National Parks Conservation Association
  • Sarah Francisco, Southern Environmental Law Center

Building Partnerships with Diverse Communities: Discussing Lessons Learned and Developing a Plan to Move Forward

  • Moderator: Jill Witkowski, Choose Clean Water Coalition
  • Participants: Vernice Miller- Travis, Skeo Solutions and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council
  • Darryl Haddock, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
  • Mark Magana, Green Latinos

The Choose Clean Water Coalition and our members struggle to connect with diverse groups and with diverse members of our communities. While we all recognize the importance of reaching new audiences, most of us have little idea of how to start. Vernice Miller-Travis, Mark Magana and Darryl Haddock will begin a conversation with attendees to share their insights of successes and failures “traditional green groups” in partnering with diverse community groups. Attendees will then break into workgroups with our Thought Leaders to develop plans for how individual Coalition members and the Coalition as a whole can begin building effective, long-term partnerships with diverse communities and the groups that already represent them.

3:10 – 4:00 p.m.

Molly Ward, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources