The 2018 Austin Conservation Luncheon took place on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at the prominent JW Marriott Hotel in Austin Texas. The luncheon with global importance presented the renowned and outstanding National Geographic photographer “Joel Sartore.” as speaker. He walked the luncheon attendants though his journey with National Geographic’s “The Photo Ark” project that was started 11 years ago in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. “Joel Sartore” specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. He is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year documentary project to save species and their habitats.
The Photo Ark is a multi-year National Geographic project with a simple goal: to capture portraits of the world’s species before they disappear and to inspire people everywhere to care about the extinction crisis. Many of the animals he portrays live in the world’s zoos and aquariums, institutions dedicated to preserving and caring for species of all kinds. The Photo Ark is the largest archive of its kind and growing. Sadly, the world’s last male northern white rhino died on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, and he talked about the awareness of caring for our endangered species. He created a great energy of awareness since rhinos are targeted by poachers and have become more lucrative than drugs, but fortunately, researchers were able to save some of the last northern male white rhino’s genetic material with the hope that that artificial insemination would become successful with the two females left.
Sartore’s commitment to saving species is a fascinating tale that relates closely to the Nature Conservancy who was also part of the luncheon. The Nature Conservancy‘s work in Texas includes protecting at-risk species such as the restoration of the grasslands to preserve and improve monarch butterfly habitat, acquiring land to conserve one of the last remaining wintering grounds for the endangered whooping crane, and protecting vital wildlife corridors for ocelots in South Texas. Like Sartore, the Conservancy is dedicated to connecting people and nature throughout the Lone Star State.
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends and its vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives where people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives. The Nature Conservancy is taking on the tough issues facing conservation today, from climate change to coral reefs, and energy development in a growing world. They are applying high-level strategies for the conservation work around the world in the following areas: protecting water, action on climate change, conserving land and transforming cities.
Laura Huffman Texas State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Texas is the head of the statewide team of scientists, conservation experts, and support staff who work to protect the integrity of Texas’ vast natural resources and most iconic landscapes. Huffman is also a founding director of the Conservancy’s North America Cities program, created to support cities as they integrate natural infrastructure into local planning and development initiatives in ways that safeguard people and reduce vulnerability to climate change. During the luncheon held on March 20th, she said, “We are anxious about the unknown, our ecosystem has been affected and there is uncertainty. Our interaction with our community, nature, and our interaction with our community at this very moment does matter.” She thanked all the professionals in Austin who have been working on preserving the environment and the great number of people who visited Austin from around the country to attend the luncheon. She emphasized during her presentation that we are all part of the ecosystem and our interactions and how we behave with it is essential. She also said: “Our mission is recognized when our ecosystem has been threatened or damaged, but we have still hope”.