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


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.

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

  • SEJ Conference Question-Asking Policy: Moderators of panels, plenaries and field trips should remind attendees that the conference is created by and for journalists and that members of SEJ and other professional journalism membership organizations are prioritized for asking questions.
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  • Stay up-to-date on the agenda and registration by subscribing to our Annual Conference email list.

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Note: All information is subject to change.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Friday, April 21, 2023
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Sunday-Wednesday, April 23-26, 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. Floor map (PDF).

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

SEJ Registration and Info Table

7:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

Pick up your badge and conference materials. Sign up here for Saturday mini-tours (included in your registration fee). Find information about SEJ, our award winners and current contest (May 1 deadline), membership and other services. If you didn’t sign up for the Saturday evening party at the Idaho State Museum or Sunday breakfast at Zoo Boise, there might still be room (ticketed events with extra fee) — check with registration and sign up there.

All-Day Workshops (DRAFT TITLES)

Workshop 1. Covering Biodiversity: Saving All the Parts

8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ($75 fee includes lunch, beverages and snacks)
Room: Simplot AC

Ours is a living planet, but its critical biodiversity is under threat. From the global policy efforts like 30 by 30 and the Convention on Biological Diversity, to Indigenous environmental knowledge and nature-based solutions, we’ll examine the actions needed to protect biodiversity and the countless living systems it fuels. We’ll dive deeper into biodiversity conservation success stories, like the jaw-dropping ecological recovery of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. And we’ll learn from the work of other journalists, as they share insights from their reporting on new ways to frame stories on imperiled species and the human communities with whom they co-exist. SEJ members and journalists only. Space is limited; preregistration required.

Draft schedule

8:00 a.m. Coffee/snacks available

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Welcome, Introductions, Questions

Emcee: Jennifer Bogo, Vice President, Content, Audubon

8:45 – 10:15 a.m. Global Efforts To Slow the Biodiversity Crisis on Land and Sea

This past year ended with a landmark agreement to slow the accelerating rate of extinctions. Why does biodiversity matter? How does what the UN calls the “biodiversity crisis” intersect with the “climate crisis”? Where are these species and how will the people living in their centers of origin be compensated, if at all? We’ll consider the intersection of conservation with environmental justice and Indigenous rights, plus who gets to decide what 30% of land or water will be protected. And, finally, we’ll take a look at an even more recent global agreement, this one to protect marine biodiversity in international waters. All promise abundant possibilities for journalists.

Moderator: Mark Schapiro, Investigative Journalist, Author, Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists

Charles (Chip) Barber, Director, Natural Resources Governance and Policy & Senior Biodiversity Advisor, World Resources Institute
Norma Kassi, Indigenous Leadership Institute
Bethanie Walder, Executive Director, Society for Ecological Restoration

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Beverage Break

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The National Landscape for Preserving Biodiversity

The U.S. Environmental Species Act has hit a notable milestone; this year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic legislation. We’ll bring together experts to discuss the act’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as efforts to make it better suited to the task ahead. We’ll look at other tools, like the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, for preserving America’s biodiversity. And we’ll examine how variables like climate change are poised to shape the outcome for its most imperiled species.

Moderator: Dino Grandoni, Wildlife, Biodiversity and Climate Reporter, The Washington Post

Speakers: TBA

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

Grab lunch and sit back and enjoy some eye-opening biodiversity presentations on Gorongosa National Park’s restoration and others TBA.

Moderator: Jennifer Bogo, Vice President, Content, Audubon

Gabriela Curtiz, Guide, Gorongosa National Park and Student, Boise State University
Gregory Kaltenecker, Executive Director, Intermountain Bird Observatory

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Rethinking How We Cover Extinction

The collapse of ecosystems is one of our time’s most pressing crises, yet it can be challenging to draw readers into these stories. Many people are becoming numb to the now-common narrative about another species in decline. This panel will bring together creative and highly experienced storytellers and editors to explore new ways and frames to communicate the urgency of biodiversity loss and opportunities for restoration. Ultimately, the panelists will help answer the question: How do you get more people to care?

Moderator: Benji Jones, Senior Environmental Reporter, Vox

Karine Aigner, Freelance Photojournalist
Steven Bedard, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, bioGraphic
Michelle Nijhuis, Contributing Editor, High Country News

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Covering Biodiversity Locally, Nationally and Globally

Moderator: TBA

Jennifer Bjorhus, Environment Reporter, Star Tribune
Karla Mendes, Contributing Editor, Mongabay
David Quammen, Author and Journalist

Workshop 2. Covering Watersheds As Connected Systems

8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ($75 fee includes lunch, beverages and snacks)
Room: Simplot BD

Learn to cover huge, complex river systems like the Colorado, Columbia and Mississippi across state and geopolitical lines, with an eye toward climate change and other emerging threats. These and other watersheds are arteries of culture and commerce, irrigating key agricultural lands and providing drinking water for millions. Our moderators will lead expert panels on power structures that govern these river systems and the challenges that lie ahead for watershed communities. Journalists at this workshop, led by the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, will leave with collaborative story ideas for covering watersheds as interconnected systems. SEJ members and journalists only. Space is limited; preregistration required.

Draft schedule

8:00 a.m. Coffee and light breakfast available

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. Welcome, Introductions, Questions

Emcee: Annie Ropeik, Assistant Director, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists

8:45 – 10:15 a.m. Lay of the Land: Watersheds Governance and Power Structures

Moderator: Debra Krol, Indigenous Affairs Reporter – Climate, Culture & Commerce, The Arizona Republic


Daniel Cordalis, Tribal Partnerships Manager, Colorado River Sustainability Campaign
Janae Davis, Southeast Conservation Director, American Rivers
Bryan Hopkins, Illinois and Upper Mississippi River Director of Freshwater Conservation, The Nature Conservancy
Mary Lou Soscia, former Columbia River Coordinator, Region 10, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (retired)

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. – Noon. Emerging Watershed Challenges: Climate, Contaminants & More

Moderator: Georgina Gustin, Reporter, Inside Climate News and Expert Journalist, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Chris Clayton, Reporter/Ag Policy Editor, DTN/The Progressive Farmer and and Expert Journalist, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk
Peter Culp, Senior Attorney and Owner, Culp & Kelly, LLP
Justin Hayes, Executive Director, Idaho Conservation League
Teal Lehto, Water Rights Activist and Content Creator
Jessie Ritter, Director, Water Resources and Coastal Policy, National Wildlife Federation

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch: Collaborative Approaches to Watersheds Coverage

Moderator: Sara Shipley Hiles, Executive Director, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists

Speakers: TBA

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Breakout groups by watershed for story and project brainstorming 

Group 1: Mississippi River

Moderator: Tegan Wendland, Editorial Director, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Group 2: Columbia River

Moderator: Nika Bartoo-Smith, Reporter, Underscore and ICT

Group 3: Colorado River

Moderator: Luke Runyon, Reporter, KUNC — Community Radio for Northern Colorado and President, Board of Directors, Society of Environmental Journalists

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Wrap-up

Meet-n-Greet: Networking in the New Normal

3:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Kick-off SEJ’s 32nd annual conference by catching up with old friends and making new ones. Learn about Boise State University’s environmental research and chat with its scientists. Workshoppers can continue their conversations while hanging out at poster sessions. Whether you’re an SEJ newbie or a veteran conference-goer, grab a drink and meet up with your conference buddy at the Buddy Meet-up Point (if you signed up in advance). Fellows, get some snacks and get to know your fellow fellows at the Fellows Program tables. Everyone, get ready to dust off your rusty social skills and network in the “new normal”.

Opening Reception and Dinner: Welcome to Boise!

6:30 – 10:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom, BSU Student Union Building

Welcome to a state of contradictions! We begin SEJ’s 32nd annual conference with a networking dinner reception, followed by an introduction to one of the fastest-growing — and fastest-warming — cities in the U.S. in one of the reddest states in the nation. Yes, there’s that classic Western rural-urban divide here, but somehow Idahoans have found creative ways to cross it with many years of successful collaborative partnerships. The ability of Gem State people to come together despite their clashing values may point to environmental solutions for other states. Case in point: our centerpiece conversation, Swimming Upstream, about salmon and dams.

Christy George, Editor, KUOW Seattle and #SEJ2023 Conference Co-Chair
Tom Michael, General Manager, Boise State Public Radio and #SEJ2023 Conference Co-Chair

Land Acknowledgement:
Lori Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock), Editor, Sho-Ban News
Lee Juan Tyler, Council Member, Fort Hall Business Council, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

Idaho Governor Brad Little
Mayor Lauren McLean, City of Boise
Marlene Tromp, President, Boise State University

Swimming Upstream:
Veteran Idaho environmental journalist Rocky Barker leads a conversation about the chance of a historic agreement on the future of Idaho’s salmon with two key collaborators.

Swimming Upstream Speakers:
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)
Shannon Wheeler, Vice-Chairman, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee

Additional Speakers:
Jennifer Forbey, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University
María González Cárdenas, Co-Author, “Nosotras”
Brian Jackson, Associate Professor of Physics, Boise State University
Marco Ovando, Student Representative, Tribal Advisory Board and University Council of Tribal Initiatives, Boise State University
David Quammen, Author and Journalist
Jared Talley, Faculty, Environmental Studies, Boise State University

Thursday, April 20, 2023

SEJ Registration and Info Table

5:30 – 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

Pick up your badge and conference materials. Sign up here for Saturday mini-tours (included in your registration fee). Find information about SEJ, our award winners and current contest (May 1 deadline), membership and other services. If you didn’t sign up for the Saturday evening party at the Idaho State Museum or Sunday breakfast at Zoo Boise, there might still be room (ticketed events with extra fee) — check with registration and sign up there.

All-Day Tours

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

Michelle Commons Kemner, Wildlife Staff Biologist, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Jennifer Forbey, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University
Ted Koch, Executive Director, North American Grouse Partnership
John Robison, Public Lands Director, Idaho Conservation League
Joshua Uriarte, Species Program Manager and Policy Advisor, Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation
Additional speaker TBA

2. Not Your Grandparent’s Mining: Innovations in Resource Extraction

6:00 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

With the energy transition driving demand for more minerals like cobalt, lithium and copper, a new rush of mining has come to the American West. The mining industry has long grappled with a historical legacy of social, cultural and environmental injustices. Stay tuned for tour details. Total drive time: 5 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Troy Oppie, Host/Reporter, Boise State Public Radio News
Daniel Rothberg, Environmental Reporter, The Nevada Independent

* Weather-dependent

3. 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.

Tour Leaders:
Cheryl Hogue, Senior Correspondent, Chemical & Engineering News
Meera Subramanian, Independent Journalist

Danae Fails, Boise River ReWild Project Coordinator, Golden Eagle Audubon Society
Jared Fluckiger, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management
Amanda Hoffman, Manager, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management
Gregory Kaltenecker, Executive Director, Intermountain Bird Observatory
Tate Mason, Director, The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey
Chris McClure, Director of Global Conservation Science, The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey
Liz Paul, Program Coordinator, Golden Eagle Audubon Society
Joe Weldon, Wildlife Biologist, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management
Mike Williamson, Public Affairs Specialist, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management

4. 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.

Tour Leaders:
Rachel Cohen, South Central Idaho Reporter, Boise State Public Radio
Luke Runyon,  Reporter, KUNC — Community Radio for Northern Colorado and President, Board of Directors, Society of Environmental Journalists

Todd English, Vice President of Sustainability, Riverence Provisions LLC
Josh Johnson, Senior Conservation Associate, Idaho Conservation League
Kendra Kaiser, Assistant Research Faculty, Department of Geosciences, Human and Environment Systems, Boise State University
Rick Naerebout, Chief Executive Officer, Idaho Dairymen’s Association
Kenneth Skinner, Hydrologist, Idaho Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

5. Living With Fire

7:30 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

Boise, Idaho is often dubbed the heart of the nation’s wildland firefighting response. All state, local and federal resources that deploy to wildfires around the country are coordinated from the National Interagency Fire Center, the nation’s “Pentagon” for fire. But the surrounding wildlands are also a case study for how lacking in resilience much of the West is to wildfires. The Northwest is getting hotter and drier just as the region experiences a population boom. Moving the “needle” from a culture of fighting every wildfire to one preparing to endure them, and sometimes letting them burn or even igniting blazes on purpose, isn’t easy. But in Idaho, efforts toward that shift are slowly happening. We’ll travel to the Payette National Forest north of Boise, where a large wildfire forced evacuations of vacation homes and cabins as well as a ski resort last August. And we’ll meet some of the “generals” of wildfire response and talk to foresters who intentionally set forests ablaze to “reintroduce fire” to landscapes where the fire cycle has been interrupted, resulting in some communities beginning to learn to live with fire rather than fight it. Total drive time: 5 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Michael Kodas, Senior Editor, Inside Climate News; Photojournalist, Educator and Author, “Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame” and “High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed”; Society of Environmental Journalists Board Member
Kirk Siegler, Correspondent, National Desk, NPR

6. 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:
Nicole Blanchard, Outdoors Reporter, Idaho Statesman
Ian Stevenson, Reporter, Idaho Statesman

Brian Bean, Co-Owner, Lava Lake Land & Livestock
Jace Hogg, Federal Lands Coordinator, Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation
Jay Smith, Co-Owner, J Lazy S Ranch
Suzanne Asha Stone, Director, International Wildlife Coexistence Network and Co-Founder, Idaho Wood River Wolf Project

7. Agriculture, Climate Change and the Lives of Farmworkers

9:00 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

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 hear research on farmworkers and pesticide exposure as well as new technology to help them tolerate extreme heat. 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.

Tour Leaders:
Nicole Foy, California Divide Editor, CalMatters
Esther Honig, Freelance Journalist
Rachel Spacek, Government Reporter, Idaho Statesman

Terry Blom, Director, Community Relations, Development and Communications, Community Council of Idaho
Mike Dittenber, Executive Director, Caldwell Housing Authority
Karina Guadarrama, Contributor, Latinx Farmworkers of Southern Idaho
Alejandra Hernandez, Contributor, Latinx Farmworkers of Southern Idaho
Carly Hyland, Postdoctoral Researcher, Boise State University
Antonio Madera, Communications Specialist – Community Affairs/Relations, Community Council of Idaho
Estefania Mondragon, Executive Director, PODER of Idaho
Irma Morin, Chief Executive Officer, Community Council of Idaho
Uwe Reischl, Professor, School of Public and Population Health, Boise State University
Rebecca Som Castellano, Associate Professor of Sociology, Boise State University

8. What Happens in Idaho Doesn’t Stay in Idaho: From the Mountains to the Orcas Downstream in Puget Sound and the Pacific

10:00 a.m. departure ($75 fee, lunch included)

Idaho’s wild salmon are unique: They swim farther and higher than any other salmon species in the world to reach their spawning grounds in central Idaho. But these iconic fish are critically endangered, and for more than 40 years, changes in dam operations, habitat, harvest and hatcheries haven’t worked to restore them. On this tour, we’ll hear from hatchery operators trying to preserve the genetic pool of Idaho’s struggling sockeye salmon. We’ll also hear about the dams that are the main reason for salmon’s decline in Idaho, and gather perspectives from biologists, energy experts, outfitters and more on whether the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams is a viable option — it’s a pathway that even Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson now supports, albeit with the right economic protections in place for those who might be affected. And we’ll learn about the salmon’s importance to endangered southern resident orcas. You’ll come away with a delightfully nerdy appreciation for salmon biology and new perspectives on the economic and ecological effects of salmon decline. Total drive time: 2 hours.

Tour Leaders:
Kim Cross, Author and Freelance Journalist
Lori Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock), Editor, Sho-Ban News
Amanda Peacher, Editor, Marketplace at American Public Media

Dan Baker, Fisheries Hatchery Manager II, Idaho Fish and Game
Justin Hayes, Executive Director, Idaho Conservation League
Celeste Meiffren-Swango, State Director, Environment Oregon
Russ Thurow, Senior Fisheries Research Biologist, U.S. Forest Service (retired)


5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

The Boise State University bookstore is on site to sell SEJ member-attendees’ and speakers’ books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference. Stop by for book signings from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Independent Hospitality Receptions and Exhibits

5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

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.

Friday, April 21, 2023

SEJ Registration and Info Table

8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

Pick up your badge and conference materials. Sign up here for Saturday mini-tours (included in your registration fee). Find information about SEJ, our award winners and current contest (May 1 deadline), membership and other services. If you didn’t sign up for the Saturday evening party at the Idaho State Museum or Sunday breakfast at Zoo Boise, there might still be room (ticketed events with extra fee) — check with registration and sign up there.


8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Don’t miss the wealth of information offered by the 2023 exhibitors. Learn about environmental issues and innovations, see some great displays and add to your source list.


8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

The Boise State University bookstore is on site to sell SEJ member-attendees’ and speakers’ books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference.

Opening Plenary: Clean Energy and the Land — How Do We Limit the Damage From Climate Solutions?

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Confronting the climate crisis will require huge amounts of land and resources — for solar panels, wind turbines, power lines and mines that extract lithium, cobalt and antimony. Already, construction of renewable energy infrastructure is butting up against opposition from rural landowners, wildlife advocates and tribal nations. Where do public lands in Idaho and the West fit into the hunt for critical minerals and the growth of climate-friendly power? Can we phase out fossil fuels without harming biodiversity, upending small-town lifestyles and degrading landscapes sacred to Indigenous peoples?

Moderator: Sammy Roth, Energy Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Shannon Eddy, Executive Director, Large-scale Solar Association
Justin Hayes, Executive Director, Idaho Conservation League
Tracy Stone-Manning, Director, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior
Grace Wu, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Barbara

Beverage Break

10:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Concurrent Sessions 1

10:45 a.m. – Noon

The Hunt for Critical Minerals, From California’s Brine Fields to the Deep Ocean

Location: Simplot A

With soaring global demand for materials used in EVs and battery storage, companies are seeking new ways to produce lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt. This panel zooms in on two emerging technologies: deep seabed mining and lithium extraction from vast underground reserves in California. Will these technologies prove to be better — for the planet and for local communities — than traditional hard rock mining or not? We aim to equip journalists to report accurate, compelling stories about these new frontiers in mineral production.

Moderator: Janet Wilson, Senior Environment Reporter, The Desert Sun/USA Today

Daniel Ackerman, Independent Climate Journalist
Douglas McCauley, Associate Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara and Adjunct Professor, University of California at Berkeley
Erica Ocampo, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Metals Company
Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President, Government Relations, Berkshire Hathaway Energy

Public Trust and Water Rights in the West

Location: Simplot B

As climate change intensifies droughts, policymakers are having to confront hard choices about how water is allocated. But they must navigate a complex set of laws that typically prioritizes private property rights. These rules, established more than a century ago, are also often blind to important environmental, social and equity considerations. Panelists will discuss potential story ideas and approaches for reporting on how water can be managed in a more equitable and sustainable way.

Moderator: Daniel Rothberg, Environment, Water and Energy Reporter, The Nevada Independent

Marie Callaway Kellner, Conservation Program Director, Idaho Conservation League
Leia Larsen, Water and Land Use Reporter, The Salt Lake Tribune
Heather Tanana, Assistant Professor of Law (Research) and Wallace Stegner Center Fellow, S.J. Quinney College of Law, The University of Utah

Ethically Covering Tribal Issues and Traditional Knowledge

Location: Simplot C

Get practical advice to approach environmental stories about tribal issues and Indigenous ecological knowledge by hearing from newsmakers and the reporters who cover them. We’ll explore how as a profession we can move away from extractive journalism and toward ethical storytelling grounded in transparency and consent. Subtopics will include (a) countermeasures to stereotyping, (b) exploring the evolving terminology around centuries-old stewardship practices of Indigenous peoples and (c) ways to develop relationships with Native experts to make stories more authentic and holistic.

Moderator: Debra Krol, Indigenous Affairs Reporter – Climate, Culture & Commerce, The Arizona Republic

Cristina Azocar (Upper Mattaponi), Professor of Journalism, San Francisco State University and Author, “News Media and the Indigenous Fight for Federal Recognition”
Carina Dominguez (Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Tucson, Arizona), Producer and National Correspondent, Indian Country Today
Dallas Gudgell (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Montana), Wildlife Policy and Tribal Outreach Coordinator, International Wildlife Coexistence Network and Buffalo Field Campaign

Journalism Toolkits 201: New Approaches to FOIA and Tech Tools

Location: Simplot D

Improve your skill with two key tools that environmental journalists use to gather information: Freedom of Information Act requests and social media. We’ll update recent changes and challenges to federal and state freedom-of-information laws, sharing advice on how to work around roadblocks. We’ll also offer practical tips that will help you decide when and how you’re comfortable using Big Tech platforms to add depth, details and efficiency to your environmental storytelling.

Moderator: Emilia Askari, Journalist, Teacher, Researcher – Lecturer II, University of Michigan

Ashley Edwards, U.S. Partnerships Manager, Google News Lab
Timothy Wheeler, Associate Editor/Senior Writer, Bay Journal and Chair, Freedom of Information Task Force, Society of Environmental Journalists

Doing the (Surprising) Math on Western Wildfires

Location: Hatch C&D

The Biden administration in January announced $930 million in funding to reduce Western wildfire dangers by clearing trees and underbrush from national forests and conducting prescribed burns. Can this strategy safeguard communities? Not entirely. Learn how the math doesn’t work if the goal is fireproofing the entire landscape. One scientist compared that strategy to trying to “scoop water out of the ocean to make it less wet.” But there is hope. Buildings can be fire-hardened. Communities can be buffered. And importantly, individual cities and towns can take proactive steps. Learn about those solutions as well as how Native Americans are re-introducing fire in a way that can protect communities now and, if carried out across the landscape, could someday result in healthier landscapes across the West.

Moderator: Ximena Bustillo, Reporter, Washington Desk, NPR

Ralph Bloemers, Director of Fire Safe Communities,Green Oregon
Kelly Pohl, Associate Director, Headwaters Economics
Margo Robbins, Executive Director, Cultural Fire Management Council

Wildlife Corridors Are Having a Moment

Location: Hatch A

Between the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill that included $350 million for wildlife-crossing grants, and state laws in Colorado, Oregon, Virginia and others, wildlife corridors — over, under and around roads, towns and cities — are having a long overdue moment. But how effective has this recent legislation been at providing safe, suitable pathways for wildlife, and supporting habitat connectivity more generally? And what more needs to be done to protect vulnerable species and enable them to thrive in landscapes that are increasingly filling up with humans?

Moderator: Steven Bedard, Editor-in-Chief, bioGraphic

Steve Blackledge, Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America
Renee Callahan, Executive Director, ARC Solutions
Adam Rissien, Rewilding Manager, WildEarth Guardians
Christine Wilkinson, Carnivore Ecologist; Human-Wildlife Interactions Specialist; and Research Scientist in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley

How Culture Reporting Can Help Climate News Reach a Wider Audience

Location: Hatch B

From Bad Bunny’s music video “El Apagón,” to the allegory in the 2019 film “Don’t Look Up,” movies, music, cartoons, video games and literature are spreading awareness of climate change like wildfire, inspiring action and solutions in diverse audiences. In this panel, we will discuss the role culture has in connecting everyday media consumers to the climate crisis, and environmental justice in ways that inspire instead of alienate while focusing on solutions instead of doomerism. Although science is important, the way it communicates the climate crisis can often leave the general public in the dark. But culture can come in and help audiences understand our circumstances while creating empathetic listeners and readers.

Moderator: Britny Cordera, Freelance Journalist and Sound Artist

Whitney Bauck, Freelance Climate and Environment Reporter
Siri Chilukuri, Environmental Justice Fellow, Grist
Angely Mercado, Climate Reporter, Gizmodo/Earther
Matt Scott, Director of Storytelling and Engagement, Project Drawdown

Climate Displacement, Migration and White Nationalism

Location: Barnwell

Rising seas, desertification and increasingly severe storms, driven by historic emissions from countries in the Global North are displacing people across the globe. While privileged communities spend millions to rebuild seawalls and shore up vulnerable homes, people from marginalized communities in the Global South, who have experienced centuries of oppression under colonialism and global capitalism, confront immigration and border policies informed by White nationalism in countries of the Global North. This panel will broadly contextualize this issue and discuss its possible futures and solutions.

Moderator: Rico Moore, Freelance Journalist and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists

Carmen Gonzalez, Morris I. Leibman Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Sonia Shah, Science Journalist and Author

Lunch and Movie Preview: The American Buffalo

Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

We’ll preview the upcoming Ken Burns’ documentary, The American Buffalo, while grazing on buffalo (or vegan) burgers. The two-part series will air on PBS on October 16 and 17. Following SEJ’s special 50-minute film clip preview will be a brief Q&A discussion.

Issistsáakiiksi/Cristina Mormorunni (Métis/Blackfoot/Sardo), Co-Founder and Director, INDIGENOUS LED

Moderator: Catrin Einhorn, Biodiversity, Climate and Environment Reporter, The New York Times

Speaker: Dayton Duncan, Writer and Documentary Filmmaker

Concurrent Sessions 2

2:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Bugs, Disease and the West: A New Era in Human Health

Location: Simplot A

Climate change threatens to undo 50 years of public health gains, and not in the ways you might think. The fungal-borne pathogen Valley fever is sweeping through communities in Arizona, Texas and California; a water-borne bacteria called Vibrio is sickening shellfish lovers on both coasts; ticks are bringing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesia (not as fun as it sounds) and Lyme to new regions. Come learn about the unexpected health threats climate change is bringing to a backyard near you — and what can be done about them. (Arachnophobes beware.)

Moderator: Zoya Teirstein, Staff Writer, Grist

Sky Blue, Board-Certified Infectious Diseases Physician, Sawtooth Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases
Souta Calling Last, Founder and Executive Director, Indigenous Vision
Benji Jones, Senior Environmental Reporter, Vox

Utilities 101: Not Just a Business Beat

Location: Simplot B

For decades, utilities have been covered as a business beat. But power companies have a huge role to play in the energy transition needed to fight climate change, and a significant impact on public health and safety. With power bills rising and big new energy infrastructure projects stirring debate across political lines, audiences and policymakers are paying more attention to these complex companies than ever before. This session will explain how various types of utilities work, how they’re governed and how to hold them accountable through engaging, clear reporting that connects people to where their power comes from.

Moderator: Kristi Swartz, Investigative Reporter, Floodlight

David Pomerantz, Executive Director, Energy and Policy Institute
Sammy Roth, Energy Reporter, Los Angeles Times
Abe Scarr, State Director, Illinois PIRG

Connecting Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Location: Simplot C

Moderator: Frank Mungeam, Chief Innovation Officer, Local Media Association

Chase Cain, Climate Storyteller, NBCLX News

How To Be an Ally for Environmental Journalists of Color

Location: Simplot D

In this session, we will talk about how journalists can learn to be a better advocate and ally for environmental journalists of color in their newsroom — from understanding and using your privilege to uplift EJOCs to learning the importance of having more EJOCS writing in your newsroom to being a mentor.

Moderator: Lucia Priselac, Director, The Uproot Project

Rachel Ramirez, Climate Writer, CNN Digital
Monica Samayoa, Journalist, Science & Environment, Oregon Public Broadcasting
Justin Worland, Senior Correspondent, TIME

When the Smoke Clears: Forests, Carbon and Climate

Location: Hatch C&D

Across the West, federal forest managers are authorizing logging after fires – even though scientists say the practice often sets back forest recovery, increases future fire risk and reduces carbon storage, among other drawbacks. It’s dubbed “salvage” logging, suggesting that the logging is making something good out of a bad situation. But actually, a new wave of research confirms that not only is leaving these burned trees in the forest better for the forest ecology – it’s also a far better deal for the climate. So why is this allowed? In their defense, federal forest managers point out that the law mandates that the agency balance sometimes-competing goals including helping rural communities, supplying the nation with timber and keeping forests healthy. This panel explores how to go forward productively, and explores solutions, including insights from a scientist who has actually measured the carbon emitted by mature forests versus younger forests. The results are surprising.

Moderator: Robert McClure, Independent Journalist and Chair, Editorial Advisory Board, Society of Environmental Journalists

Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist, Wild Earth
Beverly Law, Professor Emeritus, Global Change Biology, Oregon State University

Trauma-Informed Climate Journalism

Location: Hatch A

Climate journalists deal with trauma themselves, and are also often assigned stories that require a trauma-informed approach—post-disaster stories, migration stories, fossil fuel accountability stories and more can all both expose and inflict trauma on journalists, but we rarely talk about this reality or how to handle it. Environmental journalists are also often subjected to online abuse in retaliation for their identity and their work, which can be stressful and traumatic. The psychological impact of online abuse adds to the stressors already associated with covering the environment and the climate. This panel will bring together a licensed clinical social worker, an expert in online abuse and digital safety, and climate journalists to discuss what a trauma-informed approach to climate journalism could look like and how it would benefit our readers, our sources, and ourselves.

Moderator: Amy Westervelt, Executive Producer, Critical Frequency

Jeje Mohamed, Program Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression, PEN America
Paola Rosa-Aquino, Science Reporter, Insider and Member, Steering Committee, The Uproot Project
Rebecca Weston, Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Juris Doctor and Co-President, Climate Psychology Alliance

Salmon and Their Many Dam Problems

Location: Hatch B

Salmon are heroic, Homeric travelers, central to the culture of many tribal nations, indicators of the health of the ocean, rivers and watersheds (and are also delicious to eat). Unfortunately, their wild populations have been crashing around the world and across the Pacific Northwest, notably over the last half-century in the Snake River Basin, home to the best coldwater habitat in the Lower 48. To blame are loss of habitat, salmon farms, hatchery practices, climate change and obstructed rivers. This year, as the largest dam removal in U.S. history moves forward on the Klamath in California and Oregon, momentum is growing in support of the breaching of four dams on the lower Snake. The long-debated proposal would recover imperiled salmon and steelhead runs, honor tribal treaties and provide infrastructure dollars to the region. This panel offers a range of perspectives on salmon recovery and its impact on the environment, economy and tribal equity.

Moderator: David Helvarg, Executive Director, Blue Frontier

Eric Barker, Outdoor and Environmental Editor, Lewiston Tribune
Helen Neville, Senior Scientist, Trout Unlimited
Shannon Wheeler, Vice-Chairman, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee

Bering Sea Amid Climate Change

Location: Barnwell

Moderator: Hal Bernton, Freelance Journalist

Virtual Speakers: TBA

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Keynote and Q&A

3:45 – 4:45 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

As the global community grapples with the intersecting challenges of climate change and the biodiversity crisis, the U.S. Department of the Interior stands at the nexus of this work within the United States. With unprecedented investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act, the Department is addressing drought across the West, building the momentum for a clean energy future, focusing on environmental justice through the remediation of legacy pollution, and restoring our public lands and waters. In honor of Earth Day and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will host an hour-long session to discuss how the Department is honoring Indigenous communities through co-stewardship and an emphasis on Indigenous Knowledge, employing nature-based solutions and investing in ecosystem restoration, and tackling the fundamental challenges of climate change. Following her remarks, Department leaders Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Joan Mooney (DOI representative to the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission created by BIL), Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams will join for Q&A.

Moderator: Debra Krol, Indigenous Affairs Reporter – Climate, Culture & Commerce, The Arizona Republic

Networking Happy Hour With Interior PIOs and Others

4:45 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Details TBA.

Beat Dinners

7:00 p.m.

Sign up online for Beat Dinners hosted by a variety of organizations. Not interested or the Beat Dinner you want is full? Use the Whova app to arrange your own dinner with friends and colleagues.

  • “A Walkable Restaurant Guide” in the Downtown Core: Boise has over 100 restaurants in the Downtown Core and is very walkable — this map shows how many steps it takes to get to each, starting from the Grove Plaza.

Beat Dinners are listed below as they are booked.

Beat Dinner #1

This dinner is sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists, with support from the University of Missouri and the Walton Family Foundation.

Covering Rivers: Taking an Ecosystem Approach to Reporting and Funding
Water is one of the most precious resources in a climate-stressed world. How do we cover major river systems that cross political, social and economic boundaries? Join journalists from the new Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, launched in 2022, to hear about their ecosystem model of covering the Mississippi River watershed, which covers 42% of the continental United States. We will also hear from journalists who cover the Colorado and Columbia rivers to explore journalism at a landscape scale, including opportunities and challenges like funding, partnering and mentoring.

Sara Shipley Hiles, Executive Director, Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists
Additional speakers TBA

  • Where: Cottonwood Grille, 913 W River St, Boise
  • When: 7:00 p.m.
  • Menu: Three-course meal provided
  • Self-transport (a 15-20 minute walk from the Student Union Building or very short uber).
  • Limited to 65 attendees. RSVP here.

Beat Dinner #2

This dinner is sponsored by Veolia North America.

Americans are worried about climate change, but also believe there’s still time to reverse impacts. To get there, industries need to lead the way with innovative technologies and solutions.

Veolia is the largest environmental services company in the world, with a large footprint across the U.S. and Canada in water, waste and energy. We are committed to turning the tide on climate change and championing what we call the ecological transformation.

Last year, we commissioned a global survey about climate change and learned that even in America, a majority of respondents are willing to make changes in their daily lives — and that they believe the cost of doing nothing would be higher than the cost of taking action. Veolia has more than 10,000 employees in hundreds of sites across the country, so our actions to reduce carbon emissions and energy use, recycle water and waste materials, and improve water and wastewater treatment have a real impact in America.

We want to meet you and hear what you think about the issues you cover, so we’re sponsoring a Beat Dinner at 7 p.m. Friday, April 21 at Beside Bardenay on the 600 block of West Grove Street in downtown Boise. Come for dinner and drinks, bring your questions about what we do, and talk with our experts about the innovative ways we’re tackling the biggest environmental problems. There is no charge, but please register by April 18 by emailing with the names and affiliations of everyone in your party.

Beat Dinner #3

This dinner is sponsored by The Wilderness Society.

Investigative Reporting That Resonates
Go behind the scenes with Floodlight to discuss tips and tricks to crack an investigative story.

This craft-oriented session will focus on how to conduct a long-term investigative project. How do you know when you have the goods? What does it take to verify documents? If you’re a freelancer, how should you pick a publication to work with? How do you make sure you’re not giving the reader too much information and overwhelming them?

Floodlight’s Miranda Green, Emily Holden and Kristi Swartz will discuss how their team spent much of 2022 investigating how Southeastern power companies working with consultants influenced policy and shaped the news.

The dinner is open to journalists; please RSVP to Space is limited. Waitlist only.

  • Where: Telaya Wine Co., a local, family-owned winery nestled next to the Boise River.
  • When: 7:00 p.m.
  • Transit: Sponsors will follow up with confirmed guests about shuttle service.
  • Menu: TBA. A variety of local wines, beers and soft drinks will be available.

Beat Dinner #4

This dinner is sponsored by the Society of Environmental Journalists, with a grant from the Maine Community Foundation.

Reframing Conservation in the Face of the Biodiversity Crisis
One million species face extinction; 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is on Indigenous lands. We’ll consider the implications of these facts for national and international conservation strategies. We expect a lively conversation on how matters of conservation and wilderness can be re-framed through an Indigenous perspective. We will consider what ‘re-wilding’ and other restoration initiatives mean for Western conservation initiatives if nothing is truly ‘wild’, or ‘wilderness’, to begin with. How can Indigenous ways of knowing inform global and national ecological restoration efforts? How could this re-framing effect our understanding of the unprecedented 30×30 conservation commitments embodied in the latest Convention on Biological Diversity agreement, and the Biden administration’s parallel efforts? And let’s share ideas about how to communicate the complexity and interconnectedness of socio-ecological systems into compelling journalism and storytelling.

Issistsáakiiksi/Cristina Mormorunni (Métis/Blackfoot/Sardo): Cristina is the co-founder and director of INDIGENOUS LED, which works to apply and amplify the power of relational conservation to protect, renew and heal our connection to land and our more-than-human relatives. She has 30 years of applied experience from the Arctic to the Antarctic leading campaigns and designing biocultural conservation strategies for nonprofits, foundations and individual donors.
Mark Schapiro, a journalist who writes frequently on climate change and biodiversity; author of the bimonthly column STEAL THIS (Climate) STORY; and whose latest book is “SEEDS OF RESISTANCE: The Fight for Food Diversity on our Climate-Ravaged Planet” (Skyhorse/Hotbooks).

  • Location: Cottonwood Grille, The Alcove Room – 913 W River Street, Boise
  • When: 7:00-9:00 p.m.
  • Guests will need to get to the restaurant on their own.
  • Maximum participants: 20. Register here.

Beat Dinner #5

This dinner is sponsored by Metcalf Institute.

Celebrate 25 Years of Metcalf Training!
Metcalf Institute invites alumni and friends to celebrate 25 years of Metcalf training at Tupelo Honey. We have trained more than 3,300 journalists and scientists over the past quarter century, helping to advance informed, inclusive public conversations about science and the environment. Dinner is on us, and we look forward to reminiscing with you, learning about your latest adventures and hearing your ideas about how Metcalf training can best serve environmental journalism into the future.

  • Location: Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen, 150 N 8th St #200, Boise
  • When: 7:00 p.m., within close walking distance
  • This dinner is limited to 18 attendees, with priority given to alumni of Metcalf Institute training.
  • RSVP here.

Beat Dinner #6

This dinner is sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association.

National Parks: 5 Reasons for Hope – and for Fighting Like Hell
Join the National Parks Conservation Association’s Vice President of Conservation Programs Priya Nanjappa, along with HuffPost Environment Reporter Chris D’Angelo and Los Angeles Times Energy Reporter Sammy Roth for discussion on the present and future of our national parks and public lands. Guests will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance to support interactive dinner table discussion. Guests will enjoy a multi-course, family-style feast of classic and modern Basque dishes (with options to accommodate various diets).

  • Where: Leku Ona, 117 S 6th St, Boise
  • When: 7:00-9:00 p.m.
  • How: NPCA will coordinate group transportation from the SEJ conference center to the restaurant.
  • This dinner is open to 20 journalists.
  • Please RSVP to NPCA’s Senior Climate Communications Manager Lam Ho,

Saturday, April 22, 2023

SEJ Members Breakfast With the Board

7:30 – 8:45 a.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Board members will be in attendance, and will be presenting a few priorities for the remainder of the year. SEJ members: you’re invited to attend if you’d like to speak with SEJ board leadership in person on anything that’s top of mind.

SEJ Registration and Info Table

8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

Pick up your badge and conference materials. Sign up here for Saturday mini-tours (included in your registration fee). Find information about SEJ, our award winners and current contest (May 1 deadline), membership and other services. If you didn’t sign up for the Saturday evening party at the Idaho State Museum or Sunday breakfast at Zoo Boise, there might still be room (ticketed events with extra fee) — check with registration and sign up there.


8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Don’t miss the wealth of information offered by the 2023 exhibitors. Learn about environmental issues and innovations, see some great displays and add to your source list.


8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom Lobby

The Boise State University bookstore is on site to sell SEJ member-attendees’ and speakers’ books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference.

Concurrent Sessions 3

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.

Not So Sleepy FERC’s Green Energy Push

Location: Simplot A

Moderator: Catherine Morehouse, Energy Reporter, POLITICO

Navigating Newsrooms: A Guide For Early-Career Environmental Journalists

Location: Simplot B

The transition into newsrooms can be jarring for early-career environmental journalists. From learning all of the lingo to trying to understand how environmental issues impact underserved communities, it can help to have a little help. This panel will cover everything you need to know about how to navigate that transition from applying for jobs to how to advocate for yourself when you’re in the role and more.

Moderator: Siri Chilukuri, Freelance Journalist

Halle Parker, Coastal Desk Reporter, WWNO (New Orleans Public Radio)
Rachel Ramirez, Climate Writer, CNN Digital
Eva Tesfaye, Reporter, Harvest Public Media and the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk

Adjusting the Focus: How To Tell Climate Stories to Both Local and National Audiences

Location: Simplot C

Climate change is a global threat, yet its effects vary from place to place due to political and geographical distinctions. How can journalists elevate local climate stories to highlight their relevance to national audiences, and how can reporters put a face to the real-world effects of seemingly abstract science and policy to help ensure vulnerable residents are prepared? In this panel, local and national climate reporters will compare notes. They’ll explain best practices, provide tips and delve into the challenges and successes they’ve faced in writing climate stories that are approachable for all audiences.

Moderator: Dharna Noor, Climate Reporter and Producer, Boston Globe

Jake Bittle, Staff Writer, Grist and Author, “The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration”
Miranda Green, Director of Investigations, Floodlight
Sabrina Shankman, Climate Reporter, Boston Globe

Clean Energy Next Gen

Location: Simplot D

Renewable energy’s record-breaking growth hasn’t discouraged investors and governments from pouring billions into next-gen ‘clean energy’ technologies. We’ll dive deep to probe the promise and unintended consequences associated with the most-touted next-gen energy techs: the regional Hydrogen Hubs in line for $7 billion in federal funds, and small modular nuclear or ‘SMR’ generators soaking up venture capital. Do hydrogen and SMRs complement solar and wind power, or compete with them? Are they ripe for commercialization, and where are the leading projects? And, crucially, will their proliferation accelerate carbon cuts, or simply squander resources and precious time?

Moderator: Eliza Barclay, Climate Editor, Opinion, The New York Times

Jack Brouwer, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Director, National Fuel Cell Research Center and Advanced Power and Energy Program, University of California, Irvine
Peter Fairley, Freelance Science Writer
David Schlissel, Director of Resource Planning Analysis, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

Flood Watch: Reporting on Historic Transformations in Flood Risk Management

Location: Hatch C&D

Flood risks are increasing and new flood risks are emerging with climate change. But we haven’t stopped building in floodplains and development pressures keep mounting. Meanwhile, there’s been a surge in attention to improving management of floodplains. Some federal agencies are revisiting key policies for the first time in decades. There’s also new potential for major floodplain restoration because of recent federal infrastructure bills. This panel will explore where journalists should look for stories about the challenges and opportunities ahead, and how to track federal dollars and agency actions on the flood beat.

Moderator: Tony Schick, Investigative and Data Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Edward Clark, Director, National Water Center and Deputy Director, National Weather Service Office of Water Prediction, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jessie Ritter, Director, Water Resources and Coastal Policy, National Wildlife Federation
Mark Schleifstein, Environment Reporter, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate |

Getting Social Without Getting Conned

Location: Hatch A

As journalists in the age of misinformation wars over many issues, do we have an obligation only to share facts and hope that our waning authority will persuade the public that our stories are true? Or do journalists have an opportunity – perhaps even an obligation – to do something more to discredit misinformation about climate and other issues? How far can journalists go in the direction of public education without being labeled as politically biased? How does social media impact the sharing of information? In this session, we will talk about best practices and strategies for telling climate stories through social media platforms and how to engage online networks for impactful reporting.

Moderator: Lucia Priselac, Director, The Uproot Project

Heather Kostick, Administrative Coordinator, Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media, Department of Earth & Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania
Sofia Prado Huggins, Audience Engagement Associate, The Uproot Project

Weaving the Personal Into the Global and Political: Environmental Stories Close to the Bone

Location: Hatch B

While environmental stories often involve deep research, reporting\, and documentation, they can also be expeditions into imagination and memory. Some of the most poignant environmental stories blend serious reportage and investigations with personal and emotional details. What does it mean to write and report subjects that are close to the bone? In this session, we’ll discuss the process of merging the personal and the global into powerful storytelling.

Moderator: Madeline Ostrander, Science Journalist

Erika Bolstad, Freelance Journalist and Author, “Windfall: The Prairie Woman Who Lost Her Way and the Great-Granddaughter Who Found Her”
Lisa Palmer, National Geographic Visiting Research Professor of Science Communication, George Washington University; Freelance Journalist; and Author, “HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: The Fight to Stop a Global Food Crisis in the Face of Climate Change”
Matt Scott, Director of Storytelling and Engagement, Project Drawdown

Lawyering Up: Environmental Lawyers As Essential Sources and What They’re Tracking

Location: Barnwell

You’re not a lawyer, but climate and environmental action often hinges on lawsuits and the lawyers helping companies, nonprofits and the government navigate regulations and make change in the courts, and state and federal agencies. These lawyers are essential sources because they offer an insider’s perspective on navigating the alphabet soup of state and federal environmental laws and on court rulings affecting environmental and climate policy. We’ll discuss why a legal perspective is essential to environmental reporting, how to approach developing legal sources and talk about some of the issues environmental lawyers are thinking about as the Supreme Court re-examines longstanding environmental precedent.

Moderator: Bobby Magill, Journalist – Public Lands, Water and Climate Change, Bloomberg Law

Susan Brown, Senior Attorney, Western Environmental Law Center
Murray Feldman, Lawyer and Partner, Holland & Hart
Dylan Hedden-Nicely, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Native American Law Program, University of Idaho

Beverage Break

10:15 – 10:45 a.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

Concurrent Sessions 4

10:45 a.m. – Noon

Getting Past Greenwashing

Location: Simplot A

Learn how to report on government, businesses and corporate responses to the climate crisis through an investigative solutions approach. In this panel, three journalists with expertise in covering such topics as lithium mining, methane digesters and net zero commitments will take the audience through how to use the framework of solutions journalism and other tools to effectively combat greenwashing.

Moderator: Aman Azhar, Reporter, Inside Climate News

Cayte Bosler, Investigative Journalist and Sustainability Scientist
Aaron Cantú, Climate Accountability Reporter, Capital and Main
Gloria Gonzalez, Deputy Energy Editor, POLITICO Pro

The Problems with Solutions Journalism

Location: Simplot B

Audiences today appear as burned on stories about doom and gloom as the reporters writing them, and so publishers are trying a new angle: solutions. Newsrooms the world over now devote significant portions of their coverage to solving the problems they were once content with tracking. But this new realm of reportage raises fresh concerns for those handling complex beats like the environment, which requires teasing out narratives from complicated information at lightning pace and in limited space. What happens when solutions don’t live up to expectations or end up causing new problems? What if they promote greenwashing while simply calming the anxieties of privileged groups? This panel will host a clear-eyed discussion of concerns surrounding solutions journalism raised by reporters and readers and offer insight on how to avoid potential pitfalls.

Moderator: Stephen Miller, Independent Journalist and Author, “Over the Seawall: Tsunamis, Cyclones, Drought, and the Delusion of Controlling Nature”

Melissa Aronczyk, Associate Professor of Media Studies, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University and Co-Author, “A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of Environmentalism”
Breanna Draxler, Senior Editor, YES! Magazine

Reporting on the Rights-of-Nature Movement

Location: Simplot C

The “rights of nature” is a growing legal and philosophical movement that aims to transform humanity’s relationship to the natural world. The ideas behind the movement, which recognizes the inherent rights of ecosystems or species, are rooted in the world views of many Indigenous cultures. With over 30 countries having some form of rights-of-nature law on the books, this panel will explore what the movement is, where it is heading and how journalists can cover it.

Moderator: Katie Surma, Reporter, Inside Climate News

Rachel Bustamante, Conservation Science and Policy Analyst, Earth Law Center
Thomas Linzey, Senior Legal Counsel, The Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights
Elliott Moffett, Gaming Commission Director, Nez Perce Tribe

Covering Gas and Air Quality Inside the Home

Location: Simplot D

We spend most of our time inside, yet the air we breathe in buildings faces little oversight or regulation. That is changing: US cooking and heating with natural gas is getting more scrutiny for its contributions to nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide inside the home. This panel will bring together experts to give reporters context and tools to understand the science, history and policy stakes of burning gas indoors. The panel will help reporters understand the next stages of this issue, localize their reporting and keep a sharp eye out for misinformation.

Moderator: Rebecca Leber, Senior Climate Change Reporter, Vox and Board Member, Society of Environmental Journalists

Sage Canchola-Welch, Executive Director, Sunstone Strategies
Drew Michanowicz, Senior Scientist, PSE Healthy Energy

Up in Smoke: Covering Wildfire’s Impacts on Air Quality and Climate Change

Location: Hatch C&D

Wildfire smoke is one of the biggest, growing threats to air quality, and catastrophic fires aren’t just spewing more pollution, they also threaten progress toward climate goals. At the same time, air monitoring and other data give journalists tools they can use to enhance public understanding of the health impacts. This session will offer journalists covering wildfire smoke ways to ground their reporting in the latest science on climate change, air pollution and its health effects on our lungs and on Indigenous communities, outdoor workers and others who face higher exposure.

Moderator: Tony Briscoe, Environmental Reporter, Los Angeles Times

Phoebe Seaton, Co-Director and Attorney at Law, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
John Upton, Partnership Journalism Editor, Climate Central

Covering Climate in the Statehouse

Location: Hatch A

Statehouses are one of the key centers of power in the United States. They monitor pollution and utilities; they dole out federal funding for everything from highways to wind turbines; and they compete for investment, whether environmentally friendly or harmful. Yet for years, the number of journalists covering them dwindled. That’s beginning to change again, thanks in part to a new crop of watchdog outlets dedicated to covering their states. This panel will bring together reporters covering climate, energy, agriculture and environmental issues at a statewide level to discuss what they have in common, what makes their states unique and how they can meet the challenge of covering large, diverse states in all their complexity.

Moderator: Colin Kinniburgh, Climate and Environmental Politics Reporter, New York Focus

Julie Cart, Environment Reporter, CalMatters
Erin Jordan, Investigative Reporter, The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Jeniffer Solis, Reporter, Nevada Current

How To Include Environmental Justice in Climate Stories

Location: Hatch B

All around the country, and the world, frontline communities, including low-income, Indigenous and people of color, are facing the brunt of pollution, the toxic legacies of industrialization and, increasingly, climate change. Yet, far too much reporting on climate, environmental, water and pollution stories ignores this. In this panel, we will explain why environmental justice is not a niche within environmental reporting, but a critical component of any environment/climate story. We’ll share strategies on how to engage with, and include the voices from, these communities and how the end result is better reporting that not only informs, but also empowers.

Moderator: Nithin Coca, Freelance Environmental Journalist

Britny Cordera, Freelance Journalist and Sound Artist
Angely Mercado, Climate Reporter, Gizmodo/Earther
Dharna Noor, Climate Reporter & Producer, Boston Globe Media

Podcasting Across Divides and in Community

Location: Barnwell

Communities are bound together by stories. When it comes to environmental storytelling, the podcasting medium is perfect for deep investigation, personal narrative and critical interrogation of our relationship with the environment and one another. Come hear from podcasters in the biz about what makes a good show and how to build it, staff it and fund it. Whether you’re a podcast beginner or veteran, you’ll come away from this panel with how-to guidance on getting your podcast idea greenlit and into your listeners’ ears.

Moderator: Ashley Ahearn, Freelance Audio Journalist

Jordan Gass-Pooré, Freelance Journalist and Podcast Producer
Nora Saks, Audio Instructor/ Podcast Producer, The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies + WBUR
Amy Westervelt, Executive Producer, Critical Frequency

Lunch Plenary: Covering Gender and Environment Connections, at Home and Abroad

Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Jordan Ballroom

The effects of climate change are increasing the vulnerability of women and LGTBQ people to health hazards, forced migration, food insecurity and sexual exploitation. At the same time, women and LGTBQ people in the United States are facing unprecedented challenges to their rights. More positively, increasing gender equity and engaging women in conservation can improve climate resilience and public lands stewardship. And the demand for engineers for the coming energy transition will require dramatically increasing the number of women and LGTBQ folks in STEM fields. How can we accurately and sensitively cover the connections between climate and gender, and how they intersect in people’s lives, both here in the U.S. and abroad?

Moderator: Jen Christensen, Producer, CNN’s Health & Climate Unit; Documentary and Data Producer: and Reporter,

Ally Orr, Business Intelligence Analyst, Applied Materials

Afternoon Mini-Tours

2:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Dinner and Dance Party

6:00 – 10:00 p.m. ($50 fee includes admission, dinner, music and dancing)
Location: Idaho State Museum, 610 Julia Davis Dr., Boise, ID 83702

Join us at the Idaho State Museum for an evening of food, dancing and entertainment. The Museum showcases Idaho’s unique landscapes that have shaped the profound relationship between the state’s people and the land they love. Over dinner, enjoy music from the restored 1878 Weber Grand Piano and then dance the night away to lively music under the illuminated 1910 Stained Glass Dome. Preregistration required.

Don’t miss the traveling exhibit, Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science. From restoring ecosystems to revitalizing cultural practices, Roots of Wisdom provides examples of how traditional knowledge and Western science together create complementary solutions to contemporary concerns. In Roots of Wisdom, stories from four indigenous communities are brought to life, giving visitors real-world examples of how traditional knowledge and cutting-edge Western science provide complementary solutions to ecological and health challenges.

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Time TBA
Location: Zoo Boise

The Boise State University bookstore is on site to sell SEJ member-attendees’ and speakers’ books, as well as offering environmental books handpicked for the SEJ conference. Stop by for book signings from 10:00-10:45 a.m.

Books and Authors at Zoo Boise

9:00 a.m. – Noon ($25 fee includes admission, beverages, snacks and airport transportation with arrival at airport no later than 1:00 p.m.)

Join us in the middle of Zoo Boise, surrounded by African fauna, for our traditional Sunday morning authors session, this year focused on the natural world. Then learn about the amazing ecological restoration and the successful species reintroductions in the park before touring the zoo on your own or joining a behind-the-scenes tour. The 20-plus animal species and interactive exhibits from Gorongosa directly benefit both the animals and the people living in and around Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Preregistration required.

Located in beautiful Julia Davis Park, in the heart of Downtown Boise, Zoo Boise is one of the most popular attractions in Southern Idaho as well as a living science facility that is home to over 300 animals from 100 various species. Ten years ago, Zoo Boise reinvented itself, made it part of its mission to protect animals in the wild and turned the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. With the creation of a conservation fee and a series of fee-based animal encounters, Zoo Boise has generated $3 million so far for wildlife conservation projects around the world. Now, part of every admission and proceeds from the most popular attractions go to the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund which supports the protection of wild animals in Idaho and around the world.

Rebecca Bishop, MSc Student in Raptor Biology, Department of Biological Sciences,
Boise State University
Gabriela Curtiz, Guide, Gorongosa National Park and Student, Boise State University

Environment in Fiction
Time TBA

It’s said that every journalist has a half-written novel secretly stashed away. SEJ members’ novels likely contain plots and themes related to nature, the environment and climate change. We’re joined by some stellar novelists working this fiction beat.

Moderator: Emily Polk, Advanced Lecturer, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University

Ash Davidson, Author, “Damnation Spring”

SEJ’s annual conference ends at noon.

Sunday, April 23 – Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Post-Conference Tour. Beyond Yellowstone: 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 the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem 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
  • Grizzly bear conservation
  • Gray wolves
  • Ungulate migration: Bison, elk, mule deer, pronghorns
  • Dammed rivers and salmon passage

Deadline to apply was February 24, 2023.

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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