SEJ's 32nd Annual Conference • #SEJ2023 | Boise, ID | April 19-23 • Contact

Agenda

The 32nd Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Boise, Idaho, officially begins Wednesday, April 19, 2023, with an opening reception followed by dinner and programs.

Before the official kick-off, three all-day workshops will be held, as well as an afternoon meet-and-greet with fun networking opportunities.

Please note: SEJ is committed to supporting a harassment-free environment at the conference. Please read our anti-harassment policy.

  • Concerned about COVID? We are too! Proof of vaccination or recent negative test results will be required for all registered attendees. Masks will be mandatory unless otherwise specified. Read SEJ’s COVID-19 Protocols.
  • Stay up-to-date on the agenda and registration by subscribing to our Annual Conference email list.

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Need a roommate or want to carpool? Look for the “Find a Roommate” and “Sharing a Ride” message boards under Whova’s Community tab.

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#SEJ2023 DRAFT AGENDA

Note: All information is subject to change.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Concurrent Sessions (Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22)
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Sunday-Thursday, April 23-27, 2023 (post-conference tour)

All sessions, as well as registration, exhibits and breaks, will take place at BSU’s Student Union Building, 1700 W. University Drive, Boise, ID 83725, unless otherwise indicated.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

All-Day Workshops (DRAFT TITLES)

Workshop 1. Biodiversity 201: Reporting on the Sixth Extinction

Workshop 2. Covering Oceans, Coasts, Salmon and Orcas

Workshop 3. Reporting on Water and Waterways: The Mississippi, the Colorado and the Columbia

 

Opening Reception and Dinner: Welcome to Boise!

5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

The bar opens early, so grab a drink and mingle. Chat with colleagues and network with sources and then settle in for dinner with some serious show-and-tell about the remarkable Idaho conservation story. Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

All-Day Tours (DRAFT TITLES)

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. Departure times will vary, but all Thursday tours will return to the BSU Student Center about 5:00 p.m. Planning is still underway, so please check back here or keep up to date by subscribing to our Annual Conference email list.

1. Sagebrush Country: Sunrise at the Lek

4:30 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

Visit a long-running sage-grouse lek to observe the birds doing their incredible territorial and mating display. Late April is the perfect time of year to see the male grouse fanning their tails, using their air-sacs to make strange booming noises and strutting their stuff! We’ll observe firsthand what intact sagebrush habitat looks like and learn about its importance for this threatened bird and the factors degrading that habitat in Idaho, such as invasive cheatgrass and increasingly severe fires. We’ll hear about the debate of whether to list the bird as endangered and whether cattle grazing helps curb the cheatgrass and fire problem or exacerbates it. Please bring binoculars if you have them, a camera with a long lens if you want to take photos and warm clothes for standing outside on a cold morning in early spring (heavy jacket, warm hat, gloves, etc.). There is a possibility that weather or chance will keep us from seeing the birds (participants will be alerted as soon as possible if weather cancels so that they can join other field trips instead), but if we can see birds — oh, the birds we’ll see! Since this tour requires an early start, we’ll arrive back at the hotel in time to rest before the evening programs. Total drive time: 3 hours.

Tour Leader: Amanda Peacher, Editor, Marketplace at American Public Media

2. Redfish Lake, Salmon and Sawtooths

3. Not Your Grandfather’s Mining: Innovations in Resource Extraction

4. Saving Raptors: Habitat, Humans, and Harm

6:30 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

Southwestern Idaho is a mecca for raptors and other birds, as well as the conflicts that emerge over land use. We’ll hear from the local Golden Eagle Audubon Society as we head to the remarkable habitat of the Bureau of Land Management’s Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. There, BLM is preserving key raptor breeding grounds while allowing people to use the land too, walking the line between conservation and conflict. We’ll finish at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, where we’ll meet feathered predators up close and the biologists who are working to protect them from lead ammunition and habitat loss. Pack your camera, binoculars and water bottle! Note: Cell service is not available during parts of this tour. Walking includes a half-mile loop trail to scenic Dedication Point on a relatively flat gravel path (total elevation change: 49 feet). Some stops have pit toilets only. Total drive time: 2.5 hours.

5. Food Production and Water Quality in the Magic Valley

7:00 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

The Magic Valley in south-central Idaho refers to the dams and irrigation systems that make this high-desert landscape a highly-productive agricultural area in the Snake River Plain. It’s home to the highest concentration of dairy farms in Idaho, the third-largest dairy producing state in the country. Milk, not potatoes, is the top agricultural industry for Idaho. All of that agriculture affects the water quality of the Snake and its tributaries. Our first stop will be with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and a dairy farmer near Twin Falls. We’ll learn about dairy farming in the West and what makes Idaho’s industry unique. Idaho is also an aquaculture hub, raising about 70% of the nation’s domestic trout in fish farms. We’ll make a stop at one production facility near Thousand Springs, where aquifer-fed waterfalls pour into the Snake River. Here, we’ll examine the connection between ground and surface water systems in the high desert. Finally, we’ll travel into the Snake River Canyon with scientists working on a long-term water quality study, examining the impact of nutrient discharge from agriculture and municipalities on aquatic plant growth. Total drive time: 4.5 hours.

6. Collaborative Forestry and Uncooperative Wildfire

7. Ranching With Wolves: Can Humans and Predators Coexist?

8:00 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

For many, ranching is a way of life in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. And since their reintroduction 25 years ago, wolves have been part of that life. We’ll visit the University of Idaho’s Rinker Rock Creek Ranch, a unique collaborative site near Hailey, Idaho, where researchers work alongside conservation groups and federal agencies. There we’ll hear from expert speakers who are trying to reduce conflicts between livestock and wolves. Local sheep ranchers will share their experiences and their techniques. Total drive time: 5 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Ashley Ahearn, Freelance Audio Journalist
Emily Benson, Associate Editor, High Country News
Marissa Ortega-Welch, Independent Science and Environmental Journalist

8. Agriculture, Climate Change and the Lives of Farmworkers

Americans rely on more than 3 million farmworkers to grow their food, but they remain largely invisible in our society. This tour will visit farmworker housing to learn about the pervasive issue of substandard living conditions. Next, we’ll head to wine country to see how new technology helps workers tolerate extreme heat, and how pesticide exposure has impacted reproductive health in women. Lunch is provided by a local Mexican restaurant and musicians from the Idaho Corrido Music Project will perform. Afterwards, we’ll learn about the national network of migrant farmworker programs and visit a dairy farm to hear how immigration reform is crucial to the industry’s future. Our last stop will be a visit to the luminary, a digital museum space, on the BSU campus. Total drive time: 3.5 hours.

9. Salmon, Dams and Orcas

 

Independent Hospitality Receptions and Exhibits

5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Now a popular SEJ tradition, this is the conference’s best networking opportunity. After spending the day in the field, meet with hosts of multiple receptions. They’ll have experts on hand as well as displays, materials and, of course, great food and drink. Mingle with our exhibitors and build your source list.

Concurrent Sessions (Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23, 2023)

We’ll plunge into two days of everything from the interaction between Snake and Columbia River dams, Idaho salmon and orcas from the Salish Sea to climate equity to environmental economics to avoiding extinctions to mining cleanups to tribal sovereignty to regenerative farming to the future of fire to Western water to smart cities and stupid infrastructure to encroaching cougars and skydiving beavers!

And there will be a plethora of craft panels, too, on how to create your own collaborative projects and deploy edgy journalism teaching tools, working in the gig economy and how to cover unheard voices, rural America and looming disasters.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Morning program to be announced. SEJ’s annual conference ends at noon.

Sunday, April 23 – Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Post-Conference Tour. Yellowstone and Beyond: Connecting Divided Landscapes

Idaho’s High Divide is a landscape of rugged mountains, dusty, green sagebrush and creek beds lined with willow and aspen. The vast majority is relatively undisturbed tracts of public land dotted with cattle and sheep ranches and small, sleepy towns. It is also, according to scientists and conservationists, a critical connector between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), the Central Idaho Wilderness complex, Glacier National Park and on into Canada — providing important migration corridors for elk, mule deer and pronghorns, as well as room to roam for other charismatic megafauna such as grizzly bears, wolverines and lynx. But the High Divide has few protections as it faces an onslaught of potential problems. Climate change is upending ecosystems and sending animals in search of new habitat. People are flooding into the fastest-growing state in the nation, driving increases in wildland development and recreation. And large-scale conservation measures are met with skepticism by some locals who feel they are managing these resources just fine.

The SEJ post-conference tour, conducted by the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources (IJNR), will take 15 competitively selected SEJ conference-goers on an expenses-paid trip to America’s original national park — Yellowstone — and work its way across the High Divide. Along the way, journalists will meet with people who live on this landscape and see firsthand how they’re addressing connectivity issues such as:

  • Road crossings and animal migration barriers
  • Public land ownership and control
  • The challenges of incorporating private land into wildlife initiatives
  • The pressures of recreation and development
  • The Yukon to Yellowstone (Y2Y) initiative
  • Tribal conservation efforts and state resistance
  • Grizzly bear conservation
  • Gray wolves
  • Ungulate migration: Bison, elk, mule deer, pronghorns
  • Dammed rivers and salmon passage
  • Wildfire

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As a journalism organization that believes in an open society, SEJ each year welcomes a diverse group of attendees to our annual conference. Attendees include representatives of business, government and environmental groups, as well as working journalists, academics and students.

Speakers, presentations, questions and responses do not necessarily reflect the views of SEJ or any of its members.

As our guest, please respect our interest in open discussions of environmental issues by respecting all participants in sessions you attend and not disrupting presentations of views you disagree with.

Please respect our rule that SEJ members are given preference during question-and-answer sessions.

 SEJ is committed to supporting a harassment-free environment at the conference. Please read our anti-harassment policy.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Ben Hoskyn / Unsplash