What a year this has been. Thanks to so many of you for supporting us through what we hope to be our first and also last virtual annual meeting. This year’s meeting was held all day on Friday, November 13. The meeting kicked off in a relatively traditional (albeit virtual) format with top-notch research presentations, including six student research presentations.
After the morning presentations, we hosted a panel session with the US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel conducting the gopher tortoise Species Status Assessment; key takeaways from this session were that the USFWS has been deeply committed to following a science-based process in formulating the next steps for the gopher tortoise Endangered Species Act listing decision. Following a member-wide business meeting, we hosted rapid oral presentations and then finalized our research sharing with a poster session. The final event on our schedule was a lively auction hosted by the one and only Jimmy Stiles. This meeting was unlike anything I have ever planned, and I was honestly not sure what we could expect. However, I think as an organization, this was a great success. We are all grateful to so many of you for your continued support of this organization and our shared mission. This meeting would also have not been possible without a very active and responsive Executive Committee. When we first polled the membership for interest in a virtual meeting, we found that we would have approximately 70 people interested in joining the meeting, and only one person signaled interest in giving a presentation. However, in the final count, we had more than 140 people attend the meeting, and we had a total of 22 presentations! This meeting would have not been a success without such broad participation from our membership.
With very hopeful news on the horizon, our current and preliminary plan is to reconvene for an in-person meeting this fall (likely in middle November) in St. Petersburg Florida. While there is little that I can currently guarantee about next year’s meeting, I am confident that with this group, however we meet, it will be a success.
I wish each of you a healthy and peaceful spring, and I look forward to seeing you as soon as possible.