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VMI Hosts Environment Virginia Symposium

LEXINGTON, Va. Feb. 14, 2023 — The 33rd annual Environment Virginia Symposium at Virginia Military Institute will be held on March 28 through 30, in Marshall Hall on post. The event, organized and co-hosted by the VMI Center for Leadership & Ethics (CLE), is expected to attract nearly 500 attendees from state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, higher education, and the private sector. “This annual event is the commonwealth’s premier environmental conference,” explained Lt. Col. Kim Connolly, assistant director for programs and conferences at the CLE. 

The conference will feature vendors; educational breakout sessions focusing on Department of Environmental Quality regulatory updates, the Chesapeake Bay, emerging contaminants, water quality, land use and conservation, climate change, environmental justice, and resilient communities; and a keynote speaker.  

Additionally, this year’s conference will include a pre-conference workshop for rising leaders, a networking breakfast for women in the environment (WINE breakfast), and a post-conference hike up House Mountain, organized by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. 

Col. David Gray, executive director for the CLE, is excited to offer a leader development workshop for the first time this year to the environmental professional community. “The half-day workshop will pull in elements from VMI's professional leadership development programs to focus on personal strengths, communication styles, and team leadership. Participants will earn continuing education units (CEUs),” he said.

This year’s keynote speaker is Robert “Bobby” Whitescarver, who has retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation, and now teaches natural resources management and environmental policy and politics at James Madison University. As a “soil health champion” in the National Association of Conservation District’s network, he is also an award winning author, farmer, watershed restoration consultant, and environmental activist. Copies of his book, “Swoope Almanac: Stories of Love, Land, and Water in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley,” will be on sale during the conference.  

Early registration is currently open through March 1. Rates are $40 for full-time students, $95 for young professionals with less than five years in an environmental field, $190 for those representing nonprofits or academia, or are attending as unaffiliated individuals, and $330 for those representing government or business. Rates will increase after March 1. There are no day rates, but registration remains open throughout the conference. 

Co-hosts for the conference include the Virginia Environmental Endowment, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. 

To register or for more information on the conference, visit the CLE’s website.

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