2018 Audubon Assembly - Rising Tides

Building Common Ground for Climate Change Solutions

Join us in West Palm Beach for Florida’s premier conservation gathering, where grassroots leaders from around the state join Audubon’s professional staff and partners to grow their knowledge and skills to protect Florida’s precious natural resources.

  • Date: October 19-20, 2018
  • Location/Lodging: West Palm Beach Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33401, 561-833-1234. The event hotel is sold out. Nearby hotels are listed below.
  • Sponsorship: Exciting sponsorship opportunities are available. Click here to learn more and contact Victoria Johnston at 305-371-6396 or VJohnston@audubon.org to secure your sponsorship spot today.
  • Registration:  Online registration for the event is now closed. Less than 10 spots remain. Call 850-296-2883 to inquire about onsite registration.
  • Agenda: Click here to download the program and full agenda. Printed copies will be available onsite. 
  • Nearby hotels:
    • Hyatt Place West Palm Beach/Downtown, 295 Lakeview Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, (561) 655-1454, website
    • Residence Inn by Marriott West Palm Beach Downtown/CityPlace Area, 455 Hibiscus St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, (561) 653-8100, website
    • Studio 6 West Palm Beach, 1535 Centrepark Dr. N., West Palm Beach, FL 33401, (561) 640-3335, website
    • Courtyard by Marriott West Palm Beach Airport, 1800 Centrepark Dr. E, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, (561) 207-1800, website
    • La Quinta Inn & Suites West Palm Beach Airport, 1910 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33409, (561) 689-8540, website

Keynote Speaker

Celebrated South Florida conservationist and wildlife photographer Ron Magill is the keynote speaker for the 2018 Audubon Assembly. Ron will share his passion for the magic of America’s Everglades, which is both extraordinarily vulnerable to climate change and essential to South Florida's climate resilience. The threats facing this international treasure are substantial but so too is its ability to unite many behind its restoration. Ron's inspiring images and contagious enthusiasm will help attendees explore how to reinvigorate long-time advocates and enlist new audiences in combatting today’s conservation challenges. His passion for wildlife has landed Ron on many national and international TV programs including Sábago Gigante, one of the longest-running Spanish-language shows. Sometimes seen as the Miami response to Jack Hanna, the Miami-resident works full-time inspiring others to care about wildlife at ZooMiami. He also leads the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment and serves on the board of Audubon Florida.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018  
Early Bird Reception Thursday evening
Friday, Oct. 19, 2018  
Expert-led Field Trips Friday morning
Welcome Luncheon 12 - 1:30 p.m. 
Learning Sessions (pick two) 2 - 5:15 p.m.
Welcome Reception 6 - 7 p.m.
Keynote and Awards Ceremony 7 - 9 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018  
Networking Breakfast 7 - 8:15 a.m.
Chapters' Celebration 8:15 - 9:15 a.m.
Plenary: The Nuts and Bolts of Florida’s Coastal Water Crises: What’s Aggravating Algae Blooms and Red Tides, and How You Can Help 9:30 - 11 a.m.
2019 Conservation Action Agenda Setting Session & Closing Remarks 11:15 - 12:30 p.m.
Florida Audubon Society Annual Meeting 1 p.m.

Field Trips

As an attendee of the Audubon Assembly, you’re invited to join local Audubon experts in exploring Palm Beach County and surrounding areas on spectacular birding field trips. All trips take place on Friday morning, Oct. 19, 2018. The trips have different start times and are rated according to ease and length of walking. All trips will meet in the conference center lobby 15 minutes before departure time where your trip coordinators will assemble the carpools and provide directions. Advanced registration is required, and registrants will receive sign up information to the email address provided upon registering for the Audubon Assembly. Sign-up is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions, please contact Jacqui Sulek at jsulek@audubon.org.

Trip #1 - South Florida Water Management District’s Stormwater Treatment Area 1 East (STA-1E)7-11:30 a.m. (30-minute drive each way).

Easy/all driving
Audubon Everglades, in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), is pleased to offer this special driving tour of Stormwater Treatment Area 1 East (STA-1E). The drive is roughly 10 miles around the water impoundments with stops and opportunities to see and photograph the seasonally-changing birdlife of this expansive wetland. Expected species include raptors (such as the Everglade Snail Kite), a wide variety of shorebirds, waterfowl, and resident waders. Bring your scope if you have one. Leaders: Dan O'Malley and Susan McKemy.

Trip #2 - Wakodahatchee Wetlands, 7:30-11:30 a.m. (35-minute drive each way)

Easy/0.75-mile boardwalk
One of Palm Beach County's premier destinations for birders, Wakodahatchee is constructed on 50 acres of previous wastewater utility property. The Southern Region Water Reclamation Facility pumps approximately two million gallons of highly treated wastewater into the Wakodahatchee Wetlands each day. This wetland acts as a percolation pond, naturally cleansing billions of gallons of water while creating habitat for birds and wildlife. While the three-quarter mile boardwalk can be a busy place for walkers it is especially good for beginning birders with opportunities to observe a large number of bird species at close range such as Purple Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck – and babies, and possibly a Neotropic Cormorant. The ponds and islands are also home to turtles, alligators, rabbits, fish, frogs, and raccoons. Leaders: Paton White and Chris Golia

FULL - Trip #3 – Frenchman's Forest Natural Area, 7:30-11:30 a.m. (20-minute drive each way)

Moderate/1.5-mile walk on paved and unpaved trails 
This field trip is at capacity. Frenchman's Forest Natural Area is a 172-acre natural area with seven different habitats to explore, from a mangrove-lined waterway to scrubby flatwoods with saw palmetto and a boardwalk through a cypress swamp. It’s an amazing array of diversity on one piece of land near the Intracoastal Waterway and a migrant trap during spring and fall migration. This trip could be filled with many surprises. Leaders: Chuck Weber and Bart Scott

Trip #4 - ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 7-11:30 a.m. (35-minute drive each way)

Moderate/1.5-mile walk
In 1951, a license agreement between the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, enabled the establishment of the 143,954-acre Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s name was changed in 1986 to include local conservationist Arthur Raymond Marshall. It is the only remnant of the northern Everglades in Palm Beach County. This naturally occurring wetland is owned by the State of Florida but managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife. Audubon members across the country are familiar with this special place because thousands of Auduboners helped save the refuge earlier this year. In addition to the typical waders (herons, egrets, and ibises), you will have the opportunity to see Everglade Snail Kites, Limpkins, Pileated Woodpeckers, Owls, Northern Harriers, and Carolina Wrens. There should still be some lingering Warblers while some winter visitors will have started to arrive. Leaders: Sue Young and Linda McCandless

Learning Sessions

Wildlife Advocacy and Conservation Strengthened Through Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Bird and wildlife conservation for the long term depends on a unified voice by the broad diversity of people in the Florida we all love. Learn how Florida’s young conservation leaders are engaging with diverse groups to build new foundations and bridges between people and wildlife.
Moderator: Mark Rachal, Sanctuary Manager, Audubon Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuary
Panelists: Yoca Arditi-Rocha, Executive Director, The CLEO Institute; Leticia de Mello Bueno, Communications Director, Tropical Audubon Society; Gabrielle Buendia, Student, Rollins College; and Peter Kleinheinz, President, Apalachee Audubon Society

Coastal Resilience: A Global Issue in Need of Local Solutions

From increasing sea levels to king tides and hurricanes, Florida’s coastal communities face many challenges as they try to meet the needs of people and wildlife. Join this session and learn more about how you can help move forward with resilience work in your community. 

Moderator: Chris Farrell, Northeast Florida Policy Associate, Audubon Florida
Panelists: Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Director and Chief Resiliency Officer, Broward County; Whitney Gray, Administrator, Florida Resilient Coastlines, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection; Lee Gottlieb, Habitat Restoration Consultant, South Florida Audubon Society

Why Are Waterbirds Moving: Food, Water, or Climate Change?

Snail Kites, Wood Storks, and Roseate Spoonbills are changing their Florida nesting distributions as food availability, water, and climate change. Audubon scientists present the latest research on what you need to know about the challenges these iconic birds face in Florida’s changing urban landscape.

Moderator: Adam DiNuovo, Coastal Monitoring and Stewardship Program Manager in Collier County, Audubon Florida
Panelists: Dr. Paul Gray, Lake Okeechobee Science Coordinator, Audubon Florida; Dr. Shawn Clem, Research Manager, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Dr. Jerry Lorenz, Director of Research, Audubon’s Everglades Science Center

Plenary: The Nuts and Bolts of Florida’s Coastal Water Crises: What’s Aggravating Algae Blooms and Red Tides, and How You Can Help

In the wake of one the worst red tides and blue-green algal blooms in Florida’s history, this special session of the Audubon Assembly brings together leading experts to discuss the mechanics of algal blooms and red tides. Audubon scientists and outside experts will discuss what causes and feeds the Gulf of Mexico’s red tide and blue-green algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries? Climate change, septic tanks, biosolids, reclaimed water, fertilizer, agriculture, and wetlands are all a part of this important discussion. Join this engaging panel where you’ll learn how you can help and ask questions of the expert panelists.

How you can help, right now