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Women in Natural Resources: Leading, Mentoring, and Connecting

    Women in Natural Resources: Leading, Mentoring, and Connecting

Sponsored by the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech

October 27-28, 2016
Registration Closed
Sorry, our maximum capacity has been reached. Thank you for your interest!

This conference will highlight the role of women in natural resources; provide a venue for alumni, colleagues, and guests to connect with faculty, staff, and students; and provide workshops to address the "real" issues facing women in natural resources. It offers tools, resources, and the inspiration you need to succeed professionally and grow personally. This conference will inspire, challenge, and educate you, leaving you prepared to pursue or further your career in the natural resources field.

The conference is free to all participants. There is NO CHARGE for meals, activities, or concurrent sessions; however, registration is required. The registration deadline is Friday, October 21, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Continuing Education Credits

This conference offers approved credit for events that meet Continuing Forestry Education (CFE) requirements by the Society of American Foresters. All of the concurrent sessions and two of the optional activities (Packaging Systems and Design Tour and Unmanned Aerial Systems Demonstration) are approved for credit. See session descriptions for details.

The Wildlife Society will allow a maximum of 7.0 CEUs for this conference.

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Keynote Speaker

Dr. Carolyn Finney. Photo by Lynnly Labovitz.

Dr. Carolyn Finney

We are pleased to host Dr. Carolyn Finney, a writer, performer, and cultural geographer, as our keynote speaker. A geography professor at the University of Kentucky, she is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. In particular, she explores how issues of difference impact participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues.

Thursday, October 27 Day 1
1:30 p.m. Registration opens (remains open throughout conference)
2:00-4:30 p.m.
Optional activities
After the Frost: Backyard Habitat Garden Tour

Explore an urban backyard habitat with more than 150 species of plants native to the Mountain Region of Virginia. Topics covered during the garden tour will include building the bones of an urban backyard habitat with a focus on native plants, shrinking the lawn, and coping with the growing challenge of year-round deer browse. In the event of extreme weather, topics will be covered in the comfort of the sunroom using views of the garden and lists of plants as well as other handouts.


A private residence about 5 minutes from campus. Short walk on mostly level ground, outdoors.

Packaging Systems and Design Tour

Explore how packaging influences everyday life. Learn about different packaging materials and the packaging design process, from computer-aided design to unit load validation for global shipping. Experience virtual packaging design using a multi-million dollar packaging visualization program. Tour the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design’s facilities and see demonstrations of the effects of truck and air transport on unitized packages. Learn about how packaging professionals make the world a better place every day.

CFE Category 2: 2 hours


Brooks Forest Products Center, about 5 minutes from campus. Minimal walking, indoors.

Severe Weather Virtual Reality Tour

Take a virtual realty tour of tornadoes and hurricanes in The Cube, a black box theater at the Moss Arts Center. Strap on an oculus rift headset and experience actual storms recorded by weather radar. Walk around to experience the storms in their geographic settings from all angles, including inside the funnel, and even lie on the floor (if you like) to look straight through the eye of Hurricane Charley as it makes landfall in southwest Florida. Meteorology faculty members will be on hand for this amazing 3-D immersive experience to describe what you are seeing and how the formations occur.


Moss Arts Center on the Virginia Tech campus. Minimal walking, indoors.

Unmanned Aerial Systems Demonstration

Learn about the basics of using and operating Unmanned Aerial Systems (commonly referred to as drones) for natural resource management and research. Presenters will create and execute a flight plan and conduct flights with a fixed-wing and a rotary-wing aircraft to demonstrate the advantages of each system. The imagery collected during these flights and several examples of imagery from other land use/land cover projects will be reviewed. Participants will have plenty of time to ask questions and discuss potential applications of this exciting new technology.

CFE Category 1-CF: 2 hours


Kentland Farm, about 15 minutes from campus. Moderate walking, outdoors.

5:00-5:45 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Opening remarks
6:15-7:00 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m.
Keynote speaker
Dr. Carolyn Finney
Dr. Carolyn Finney
Lighting a Fire Where You Are: Race, Nature and Dreaming the Future Present
8:00-9:30 p.m. Networking mixer: “campfire” and s’mores on the patio,
with music by Lew Woodall Jazz
Friday, October 28 Day 2
6:00-6:45 a.m. Yoga class (optional)
7:30 a.m. Registration opens (remains open throughout conference)
7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:30-8:45 a.m. Opening remarks
9:00-10:00 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions*
Becoming a More Diverse and Inclusive Institution
Eden King. Photo by George Mason University.
Eden King

Many workplace disparities are the result of gender stereotypes that lead men to be perceived more favorably than women, despite research that shows that women bring new knowledge, skills, and networks to their organizations, take fewer unnecessary risks, and are more likely to make positive contributions. This session will address the science behind the biases we hold and provide evidence-based strategies for individuals and organizations to reduce the gender gap.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

Creating an Inclusive Environment
Ashley Wood
Ashley Wood

An organization’s culture influences the experiences of all employees and can create a less inclusive work environment for women. Some organizations, however, have developed work-life balance policies that are inclusive regardless of gender. This session will discuss how we develop organizational cultures and the impact work-life balance policies can have on women’s work experiences. Participants will engage in a discussion on how to advance career opportunities for women.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

10:00 a.m.

Break (refreshments available throughout the day)
10:10-11:10 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions*
Exploring Diversity Beyond Race and Gender
Carolyn Copenheaver
Carolyn Copenheaver

Explore the impact and importance of non-visible diversity attributes: birth order, religion, socio-economic class, hometown, and citizenship. All of these characteristics influence how we approach the natural and human-constructed world. This workshop will provide the opportunity to see that diversity is deeper than outward appearances.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

How to Master Your Money and Retire Happy
Ruth Lytton Derek Klock
Ruth Lytton and Derek Klock

Financial management is an important life skill, yet understanding all of your options can be overwhelming. This session will focus on some basic principles of money management and retirement planning.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions*
Forging Pathways in Natural Resources Careers
Katie L. Burke
Katie L. Burke

Careers in science and natural resources are changing rapidly. What opportunities are professionals in their early careers finding or creating? Women, in particular, leave science at disproportionate rates. Where do they go and what career opportunities do they find?

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

Lead From Where You Are
Panel Discussion
Michele C. Deramo
Moderator: Michele C. Deramo

Tales of leadership wins, losses, frustrations, and inspirations are shared in this moderated discussion featuring College of Natural Resources and Environment alumni panelists.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

12:30-1:30 p.m.
Lunch and featured speaker
Kathy Abusow
Kathy Abusow
You Don’t Have to be a CEO to Lead
1:45-3:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions*
Negotiation Skills for Women in Natural Resources
Benjamin Converse
Benjamin Converse

This session will focus on salary negotiation strategies for women’s success that are supported by peer-reviewed studies and will provide support for students, faculty/staff, and working professionals. It will include informal interactions for participants to hone their negotiation skills. All who attend will have the opportunity to learn effective negotiation strategies to help them progress faster in their profession.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

Mentorships Matter
Donna Cassell Ratcliffe
Donna Cassell Ratcliffe

Mentorship relationships benefit the mentor and the mentee, particularly during the college years when there are many questions, options, decisions, and opportunities, all moving toward a future after graduation. This session will showcase attributes of mentorships, as well as the short- and long-term impacts of these relationships. All who attend will have the opportunity to actively network with both workplace professionals and enthusiastic students.

CFE Category 2: 1 hour

3:00-3:15 p.m. Raffle (must be present to win!)
3:15-3:30 p.m. Closing remarks

* Networking Lounge: For those not attending concurrent sessions, a Networking Lounge will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Day 2. Come join fellow attendees in a casual environment to relax, refresh, engage, and make new connections.


The Women in Natural Resources: Leading, Mentoring, and Connecting conference will be held at The Inn at Virginia Tech (The Inn), 901 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061. Phone: 540-231-8000,


The Inn is holding a block of rooms at the rate of $139 per night based on single or double occupancy plus tax.

Call 540-231-8000 or toll free at 877-200-3360 no later than Tuesday, September 27, 2016, to make your reservation; ask for the Women in Natural Resources Conference room block.



  • Attendees staying overnight at the Inn: You will be given a parking permit when you check in to your room at the Inn.
  • Faculty, staff, and students: Be sure to display your Virginia Tech faculty/staff or student hangtag when parking at the Inn.
  • Daytime attendees not affiliated with Virginia Tech: We plan to have a volunteer positioned just outside the Inn to distribute permits so that you can return to your vehicle promptly before getting in line to check in. Permits will also be available at the conference registration desk.

The doors will open at 1:30 p.m. on October 27 in the foyer of The Inn.


See the agenda for a list of meals and refreshment breaks available during the conference.

Concurrent Sessions

See the agenda for a list of concurrent sessions.


Interested in exploring the area? Learn more about visiting the New River Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.


Business casual is recommended. Please be comfortable. There will be opportunities to register for optional activities; please bring comfortable walking shoes, yoga attire, etc. if you plan to participate. See the agenda for a listing of these events.


A list of Virginia Tech students who can provide childcare during the conference is available on request. The list includes the students’ contact information, availability, experience, fees, and references. Please note: These students have not been screened by Virginia Tech or the conference organizers. Request the list from the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s administration office at 540-231-5481 or

Nursing Mothers

A private space has been reserved for mothers who need to nurse or pump during the conference. Ask one of the conference organizers or hotel staff for the room’s location once you arrive at The Inn.

Disability Accommodations

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact the College of Natural Resources and Environment's administrative office at 540-231-5481 or by Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please contact the College of Natural Resources and Environment's administrative office at 540-231-5481 or

Can I update my registration information?

Yes, the Eventbrite conference registration system allows you to edit your registration. After you register, you will receive an email confirming your registration. Towards the bottom of the email, under Your Account, you will see “Log in to manage your orders.” Select “Log in” to update or cancel your registration.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, as long as you are registered, there will be a conference packet ready for you when you check in.

This conference is made possible with funding from Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. and through the generosity of our donors to the College of Natural Resources and Environment's annual fund, which provides unrestricted support for the college's top priorities. In particular, we thank Dennis and Debbie McDonald, Steve and Donna Michael, and Jeff Rudd for their support.

Keynote speaker Carolyn Finney’s presentation is supported by a grant from the Elizabeth A. "Betsy" Flanagan Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Endowed Lecture Fund.

    Sustainable Forestry Initiative

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which is ranked the top program of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography.

25th Anniversary

Celebrating 25 Years

    1992 through 2017, 25 years

Join us Sept. 15-16 to visit campus and reconnect with alumni, faculty, staff, and friends.

Celebrate with Us

Read the Summer Newsmagazine

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2017

Select a Major

We have 11 majors for you to choose from with over 10 options to specialize in. Select yours now and join us in bringing the future to nature.