NATA’s Managing for Diversity workshop a success in Gainesville


A spell of good weather in the form of sunny skies and cool temperatures set the scene for this year’s Managing for Diversity workshop held at Morningside Nature Center in Gainesville. This workshop is geared towards land managers interested in learning how to manage for biodiversity in the areas they work. Participants represented 13 different entities including Sarasota, Manatee, Volusia, and Lake counties; Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) , Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, St. Johns River Water Management District, City of St. Petersburg and the City of Palm Bay, among others.

New content

New to this year’s workshop content included a feral hog presentation that focused on their ecology as well as management recommendations.

Workshop participants observe a hog trap demonstration.
Workshop participants observe a hog trap demonstration.

After the lecture presentation, workshop participants traveled to a nearby USDA/APHIS facility to witness several hog trap demonstrations (no hogs present!) and ask questions. Thank you Matt Chopp and John Griffin for your assistance in leading this section of the workshop!

Opportunities for a hands-on experience

Long-serving instructor Deb Stone (FDEP) led an invasive plant prioritization and control exercise on Day 1 that one participant stated was what they liked most about the training, appreciating its utility as a “systematic way to prioritize”.

Workshop participants examining the contents of their dipnet.
Workshop participants examining the contents of their dipnet.

On Day 2, returning instructors Jodi Slater and Jeremy Olsen of the St. Johns River Water Management District led workshop participants on a field trip through Longleaf Flatwoods Preserve with the purpose of evaluating whether sites along the way could be classified as a wetland, and why.

One participant responded that “the wetland trip showed me new methods to utilize in the field at our areas” while another participant reported “the wetland evaluation showed real life natural resource management scenarios”.

Workshop participants using a sampling frame.
Workshop participants using a sampling frame.

Geoff Parks of the City of Gainesville led the final exercise on Day 2, a field exercise on restoring upland plant species composition. Participants were given a hands-on opportunity to take measurements on percent cover and point-intercept using a sampling frame and a meter tape measurer.

Happy participants, happy organizers

We were pleased to have such a lively and engaged group of participants this year, and even more pleased that 96% of participants reported that they would recommend this workshop to others in the future!

Want to register for next year’s workshop?

If you are interested in taking this workshop in 2020, check back to our calendar in the beginning of next year for updates!


Posted: April 1, 2019

Category: Natural Resources, Professional Development, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Managing For Diversity, NATA, Natural Areas Training Academy, Workshops

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