2017 Conference

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The 37th Annual Conference of the Florida Native Plant Society will be held in the heart of Florida, and central to the largest river restoration project in the world! The Kissimmee River restoration, a joint project by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, is designed to restore the complex relationships between land, wildlife, water and climate that were torn apart when the river was channelized in 1962. Before channelization, the river was a haven for native plants and wildlife, but afterwards many species of birds, fish and plants were lost, creating havoc on our economy and our environment. The restoration project to restore the river to its natural path is nearly half complete, and already  much of the original flora and fauna have returned and the water quality is improving.

This year’s conference addresses those connections that are so important to the Kissimmee River Basin and beyond. What can we learn from the negative impact of the channelization, and the surprisingly quick recovery that has followed the restoration? What more needs to be done?  How can the lessons learned in the Kissimmee River Basin be applied to other areas of Florida, the country and the world?
Registration includes a complimentary lunch, snacks during breaks, coffee and water.  A full dinner will be served at the socials (extra cost).  Breakfast is not included.  Every room at River Ranch includes a full kitchen so we encourage everyone to bring extra food for breakfast and fieldtrips.  A full tank of gas is also recommended as River Ranch is a remote location.
All meals served at the conference will include the following options:  omnivore, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and celiac-friendly.
Pay with a credit card or with a check.



Registration cost: $110/day Friday & Saturday
Dinner Socials: $26/evening Thursday, Friday, Saturday



The venue will be the Westgate River Ranch Resort. This upscale dude ranch is in the heart of Florida, just south of SR 60 and south of Lake Kissimmee.  An ATM is available at the venue - there is a $3.25 fee per transaction.

View your resort options and make your reservation now!

(If you experience issues booking your lodging, please report it to RodakMA@msn.com. We can help.)


Wednesday, May 17 - onsite registration begins
Thursday, May 18 - Field trips and workshops
Friday, May 19 - Speakers and workshops
Saturday, May 20 - Speakers and workshop
Sunday, May 21 - Field trips


Program Highlights

Our speakers will address environmental connections that are known, broken, restored, and newly discovered. These include University of British Columbia professor, Dr. Susan Simard’s research on “How Trees Talk.” We will hear from Florida experts Steven Bousquin, project manager of the Kissimmee River Restoration Evaluation Program, Dr. Thomas Lodge on the ecology of the Everglades, and Dr. Tonya Clayton, on sea level rise in Florida..
Other speakers will provide insight into specific habitats, flora and fauna, such as Roger Hammer on the Wildflowers of the Kissimmee Valley, Dr. Alan Franck on fungi in Florida, Dr. Paul Gray on the connection between the decline of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow and the loss of native habitat, and Connie Caldwell on pine rockland post-burn restoration.
Learning about these issues requires that we also address how we respond to them:
  • Dr. Susan Carr will discuss floristic variation across the landscape of pyrogenic pinelands of Florida.
  • Todd Hopkins of the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative will define Landscape-Scale Conservation Targets for Florida.  
  • Dr. Craig Huegel will discuss creating wildlife habitat in developed landscapes that creates connections with natural areas.    
  • Eugene Kelly and Sue Mullins will  talk about becoming effective advocates for the environment through public policy.  
  • Nicole Cribbs and Wendy Poag will talk about implementing native plant education programs by FNPS Chapters
  • Juliet Rynear will provide information on FNPS initiatives in conservation, restoration and citizen science and about the FNPS conservation grants.
  • Results of research on Florida native plants will be presented.

Field Trips

Field trips will further our education by taking participants to see parts of the Kissimmee River Restoration in different phases of restoration. We will visit some of the vast array of ecosystems that connect in central Florida to form a long natural corridor from north to south through the center of Florida.  These include ancient scrubs, dry prairies, swamps, and flatwoods.   Many of these provide important habitats for rare plants and animals. We will have trips that will let people see good land management practices and environmental stewardship on some of our working agricultural lands.

Additional Information

If you have questions, please contact Marlene Rodak (Conference Chair).