Members Area

The GCA's 2020 Conservation Study Conference Goes Virtual


November 19, 2020

“This Land is Your Land” Focuses on Conservation through Conscientious Land Stewardship

Following in the footsteps of the virtual success of the GCA’s Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference, the GCA's Conservation Study Conference “This Land is Your Land” brought thousands of club members together for a unique opportunity to engage in a discussion about the importance of conscientious land conservation.

The two-day event featured conservation heroes from all over the country delving into important topics concerning both public and private land. Day one focused on public lands and featured conservation historian Douglas Brinkley, former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, photographer and speaker Peter Forbes, Sam Hodder of Save the Redwoods League, and Dede Petri, former GCA president and current president of the National Association for Olmsted Parks. The conference included insights from four leading women in conservation: Theresa Pierno (National Parks Conservation Association), Diane Regas (The Trust for Public Land), Gina McCarthy (NRDC), and Jennifer Morris (The Nature Conservancy). Participants were able to take virtual trips to wildlife refuges and national parks thanks to award winning photographer Ian Shive and “journey” to Glacier National Park in Montana courtesy of the National Park Conservation Association.

Day two provided insight on how to be good stewards of our private lands. American Rivers, with Dr. Diane Lewis of the Healthy Yard Project and Scott Bose, Northern Rockies director for American Rivers, discussed the connections between major watersheds and our own yards. Other topics included the role of private land conservation in protecting our world, how art can help translate the nature that surrounds us in cities and suburbs with Stacy Levy, and a discussion on understanding carbon credits and how preserving land can sequester carbon and deliver financial benefit. The GCA's 2020 Margaret Douglas Medal recipient and author Richard Louv spoke on the importance of linking children, and all of us, with nature.

The event ended with an interactive “Cooking for the Climate” demonstration, a margarita toast (recipe compliments of bat pollination of the agave plant for tequila production) and a look at Bracken Bat Cave, the largest colony of mammals in the world, and an excellent example of how public/private partnerships protect this wonder.

The GCA made a rapid pivot beginning in late spring 2020 from destination-based, in-person events to virtual gatherings. Teams of volunteers have been engaged in learning strategies for creating and presenting educational content for member clubs in this new and exciting way. 

To quote one attendee, with hundreds of similar comments from others, “With dedication and innovation the GCA took a big COVID negative and made it a positive for our membership. Holding these major meetings by Zoom has been such a gift to us. I am so grateful to be a member of the GCA and have been so inspired by these amazing speakers and their presentations! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!”

Upcoming GCA virtual conferences will provide focus on floral design, photography, national affairs and legislation, and the organization’s annual meeting.


See All News