Keep reading for our favorite highlights from the 2023 GTC Annual Meeting.
The 45th Annual Meeting of the Gopher Tortoise Council was hosted in Georgia. GTC members gathered at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center from November 17-19 to learn more about current research areas and management techniques relating to gopher tortoises, their commensals, and habitats across the region.
Our meeting t-shirts this year featured designs from Hayden Day and Emma Browning. We're happy to report that t-shirt sales raised nearly $970 ($969.34 to be exact)!
This year's keynote presentation was delivered by Dr. Lora Smith, a long time member of the Gopher Tortoise Council, covering her decades of work researching gopher tortoises and other reptiles and amphibians in the southeast.
Meeting participants heard presentations on topics including reintroduction efforts for eastern indigo snakes, gopher frog headstarting, habitat restoration, and gopher tortoise ecology. This year's meeting also included a special session dedicated to gopher tortoise translocation. Thank you to all of this year's excellent presenters!
Attendees gathered at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture to celebrate winners of GTC’s student research and travel grants, student presentation awards, and service awards. Congratulations to this year's award recipients, including:
Joan Berish Student Presentation Awards:
1st - Celina Ceballos (Eckerd College) “Foraging Ecology of Gopher Tortoises within Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Petersburg, Florida”
2nd - McKayla Susen (University of Georgia) “The Influence of Soil Texture and Vegetation Structure on Gopher Tortoise Burrow Characteristics and Burrow Site Selection”
The award recipients received $400 and $200, respectively.
Bob Herrington Student Travel Grant
GTC gave out four Bob Herrington Student Travel Grants of $150 each the of following students, to help offset the expense of traveling and presenting at the meeting:
Celina Ceballos (Eckerd College), William Mach (Florida International University), Deanna Riente (University of Florida), Krista Ruppert (Mississippi State University)
Gopher Tortoise Council Service Awards
Distinguished Service Award - Matthew Stoddard
Distinguished Service Award - Eric Sievers
Distinguished Service Award - Coastal Wildlife Club
Auffenberg and Franz Conservation Award - Reese Thompson
Lifetime Service Award - Betsie Rothermel
The 2023 Annual Meeting concluded with two field trips. Participants could visit either the Alapaha Wildlife Management Area or the Doerun Pitcher Plant Bog.
Thank you to everyone who attended this year's meeting, and who helped to make the meeting a success!