Postcard from the National Conservation Training Center

August 8, 2011


I was fortunate to be able to attend the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Conference at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Invasive Plant Council, the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, and the USDA Forest Service the event was held at the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s NCTC campus.

The NCTC is located on an unbelievably beautiful campus where wood thrushes sing all day, pileated woodpeckers call and drum, and down by the Potomic River kingfishers chitter by. The facility is artfully designed to remind students of what they are working to protect. The automobile you arrive in is relegated to the perimeter of campus and the rest of your travel from dorm to dining hall to class is done on paved trails that wind carefully through the woods.

An elevated walkway spans a wooded gorge between buildings; the view above is looking down on paw paw and out into the woods of sycamore and oak.

I had heard that one of the great things about the NCTC is how participants from the various classes have a chance to mingle at meals and on those walkways and exchange ideas. It is true: I ate meals with people attending one of two National Wildlife Refuge management courses, a workshop on the biology of malaria in birds, and a seminar on endangered species recovery planning and implementation. Attendees hailed from Oklahoma to Angola and added perspective to our regional conference.

And oh yes, the conference speakers were excellent and I took pages of notes I will type up and share with colleagues.