2015 Conference

VOWA 2015 Annual Meeting/Conference
Saturday, March 21, 2015
DoubleTree Hotel, 
Charlottesville VA

The 2015 VOWA Annual Meeting/Conference, held at the Double Tree Hotel in Charlottesvile, was a big success.  Getting together with old friends,  making new friends, outstanding presentations, networking, introductions of inspiring young people who are our future stewards and writers, recognizing excellence in the work of our colleagues, a Dominion Resources sponsored Awards Luncheon, and a productive bussiness meeting made for a most enjoyable day!

We thank our outstanding 2015 speakers…

Bill Funk WebsiteWilliam “Bill” Funk
Writer – Documentarian – Environmental Attorney

Bill  was born in Kansas, grew up in Kentucky, and graduated from the Vermont Law School, the country’s top environmental law facility. He now lives in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where he works as a sometime documentary filmmaker and a full-time freelance writer of articles and essays dealing with the natural world, history, culture, law and politics. As an attorney he has worked extensively with state and federal governments as well as with various nonprofit groups on environmental issues dealing with land preservation, endangered species, clean air and water, and wetlands mitigation. Bill currently writes articles and essays for publication in a wide variety of magazines. Documentary filmmaking is another passion.

Bill says that “I try to spend a maximum amount of my time outdoors – hiking, canoeing, birding, camping, fishing – though in point of fact most of my days are spent in the salt mines of freelancing: pitching, researching and writing. I enjoy literature, cinema, history, music, photography and dogs. Especially pit bulls.”

For more information on Bill and to see his work go to his website www.williamhfunk.com, and for an interesting tool to add to your arsenal check out his use of “Pressfolios!”

Tom SmithTom Smith, Natural Heritage Director
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Tom has been with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage since 1990. He is responsible for the direction and management of the Program’s efforts to conserve Virginia’s wealth of natural communities and native plant and animal species.  Prior to coming to Virginia, Tom served as the Director and Plant Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy’s office of the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program from 1982 – 1990; as a Field Ecologist with the Tennessee Natural Heritage Program from 1980 – 1982; as the Botanist for the TN Dept of Transportation; and as the Tennessee Preserve Design Intern for The Nature Conservancy.  Tom has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from Juniata College 1978, and a M.S. in Physiological Plant Ecology from Vanderbilt University 1981.

Tom grew up on a small farm in Juniata County, Pennsylvania.  Tom and his wife Joyce van der Laan Smith raised their five children next to the James River in Richmond.

For more information on Virginia’s Natural Heritage Programs visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage. To contact Tom and learn more about the NHP Staff go to thier Staff Page.

Jaime SajeckiJaime Sajecki, DGIF Black Bear Project Leader

Jaime has been with the VDGIF since 2006 and has 14 years of experience working with black bears in California and Virginia.  Prior to working with the VDGIF she worked on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Northern California where she trapped and studied bears to aid in a project implemented to reduce bear caused damage to timber units on the reservation.

Jaime received a BA in Biology from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, then spent several years in a PhD program on Microbiology & Immunology at University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ before switching into Wildlife Management at Humboldt State University  in Arcata, California where she received an MS.

For more information on Black Bears in Virginia including hunting regualtions and Programs of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries see their page on Black Bears. Also check out Jaime’s article on being Bear Smart.

VOWA also expresses deep gratitude to the following organizations for their generous donations and support of our efforts at this Annual Meeting:

Alpen Outdoor Corporation
Bass Pro Shops
Bureau of Land Management
Cooperative Living Magazine
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Dominion Resources
Ernst Seeds
Fly Fishers of Virginia
Hi Mountain Seasonings
Hunt’s Video and Photo
Madison County Tourism
Mossy Creek Fly Fishing

Thank you to the individual VOWA Members donating items to the auction. Your generous contributions are greatly appreciated.

And to our Contest Judges, the success of our competitions fall on your shoulders and we are most grateful for all the time and energy you give to ensuring we choose the most deserving winners.