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Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussions

Dragonfly Diversity Cafes is a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. The cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting.

Invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas. Use this form to nominate yourself or another presenter(s) for an upcoming Dragonfly Cafe.

Presentations are held on the third Thursday of each month from 7:30-8:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time (EST).

For more information about each cafe and to register, click the links below. Presentations are available through Zoom. Some presentations will be recorded and available on Project Dragonfly’s YouTube site.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Aventureros in the Bahía Paradise

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Aventureros in the Bahía Paradise

Dragonfly’s tenth Diversity Cafe features Germán Paredes, Aventureros Program Coordinator at the Vermilion Sea Institute (VSI) in Bahía de los Ángeles, Baja California, Mexico. Aventureros is a year-round youth program hosted by VSI that supports local students in discovering and caring for the marine and terrestrial worlds around them. In this talk, we’ll go through the particulars of this program and its importance for the Bahía de Los Ángeles, Baja California, Mexico.

Paredes’ interest in VSI came as an opportunity to link his academic experience in Anthropology with his passion for guiding outdoor experiences in Mexico. He has collaborated with a variety of community conservation projects in Mexico, Peru, and the USA. Through these experiences, Paredes realized that teamwork, community connection and nature-centered thinking is how we feel a sense of belonging with the biological world and a need to preserve it. Moreover, his experience in the study of the relationship between humans and nature and outdoors activities such as mountaineering, kayaking and as a Wilderness First Responder trained guide, plus Paredes’ multidisciplinary team, allow him to develop a program that shows the Aventureros what they are capable of, always questioning (for good) the ways they do things and to never quit learning.

  • “Aventureros in the Bahía Paradise”
  • Thursday, September 15, 2022 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET
  • Register here
  • Note: This talk may be recorded.

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Overcoming Personal and Professional Struggles as an Asian American in Conservation

Katie Leung

Dragonfly’s tenth Diversity Cafe will take place on April 21, 2022, and features Katie Leung, a Miami University graduate student in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP). The emergence and spread of Covid-19, which led to an uptick in violence and negative sentiment directed toward the Asian American community, inspired Katie Leung to shift her focus toward understanding why this occurred and, importantly, why these acts of hatred and violence continue. While grappling on a personal level with immense concern for her and her family’s personal safety, she learned much about her identity as an Asian American and how her identity connected and intertwined with her evolving interests in conservation. In this talk, Katie will dive into:

  • The importance of mental and emotional health and how we must all honor ourselves during these difficult and divisive times;
  • How the rise of hate crimes toward Asians and Asian Americans impacted her work and passion in conservation;
  • How being in the time of Covid-19 made her realize she needed a career change to readjust her focus and how the master’s work she developed influenced this decision;
  • Why acknowledging and breaking old habits are important to maintain one’s personal integrity.

As a master’s degree candidate with Project Dragonfly’s Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP), Leung participates in experiential learning through the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Leung has focused her academic work on plastic pollution in New York City, where she serves as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at Riverkeeper, coordinating the Sweep, Riverkeeper’s largest day of service. She sees her position as a way to expand the scope of her AIP master’s degree. Before Riverkeeper, she served as a field technician with New York City Parks’ Wildlife Unit, in which she led a raptor nest monitoring community science project to study nesting behavior and to help NYC agencies make informed decisions on rodent management. She graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a B.S. in Conservation Biology and centered her interests around wildlife conservation. Since then, her understanding of conservation has broadened as she has learned that environmental and social issues are interconnected, and she aims to involve more people in conservation to address these issues

  • “Overcoming Personal and Professional Struggles as an Asian American in Conservation”
  • Thursday, April 21, 2022 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET
  • Note: This talk may be recorded.

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Science and Perspective: The Importance of Local Knowledge for Global Conservation

Dr. Ancilleno Davis

Dragonfly’s ninth Diversity Cafe on March 17, 2022, features Dr. Ancilleno Davis. Having traveled to 13 countries and territories discussing and learning about conservation methods and techniques, Dr. Ancilleno Davis found a key element that affects failure and success seems to be local involvement. Dr. Davis will discuss how diversity affects understanding and action in conservation engagement.

Dr. Ancilleno (Leno) Davis (Ph.D. from Miami’s EEEB Program in 2018) is the Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at the Bahamas National Trust; a Member of the National Environmental Health Board, Chair of the National Technical Committee on Environmental Protection and Management under the Bureau of Standards and Quality and owns the Science and Perspective Brand. His career focus is on community education and capacity building to support local autonomy in science-based environmental decision-making. Dr. Leno has taught students from 2 years to 101 years old regarding environmental issues at three universities, in 13 countries and at least 30 islands. He follows the Doer’s Code* and believes “We can each use more science, but we need more perspective.

  • “Science and Perspective: The Importance of Local Knowledge for Global Conservation”
  • Thursday, March 17, 2022, 7:30-8:30 p.m. EDT
  • Note: This talk will be recorded.

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Pursuing Equity: A Must for Conservation

Katie Dell

Dragonfly‘s eighth Diversity Cafe on Feb. 17, 2022, features Katie Dell, outdoor educator and resource teacher naturalist for Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland. Through this collaboration, audience members will have the opportunity to learn about:

  • How historical factors and societal “norms” have created inequities in the environment; a problem that continues to plague communities and conservation today.
  • Why equity is a must for conservation organizations.
  • How you can begin to understand who is over and underrepresented in your conservation work.
  • How we can move forward to create more inclusive, and safer spaces for people and wildlife alike.

Dell holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Towson University and a Master of Arts in Biology from Miami University’s Global Field Program. As a white, LGBTQ+ teacher in a racially and economically diverse school system, her academic research focuses on racial and gender equity in science and environmental education.

Dell spends her free time with family, friends, and her pit bull mix, Luna, hiking, kayaking, and taking pictures in the great outdoors. She also leads field courses for Vermilion Sea Institute (VSI) and volunteers as the Community Outreach Coordinator. In this role, she helps VSI build capacity around diversity, equity, and inclusion as an international organization committed to welcoming visitors, volunteers, and partners from all walks of life.

  • “Pursuing Equity: A Must for Conservation” 
  • Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, 7:30 p.m. EDT

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: How Connecting Teens to Nature Saved My Life

Credell Walls

Dragonfly‘s seventh Diversity Cafe on November 18, 2021, features Credell Walls (goes by “Cre”) who currently serves as Program Coordinator for the Forest Preserve of Cook County, Illinois. He has worked with the Jane Goodall Institute and the Garfield Park Conservatory managing various youth programs locally and nationally. He has delivered professional and personal development training workshops to more than 3,000 youth nationally.

Walls’ background includes studying improvisational comedy at Chicago’s Second City and he has performed with the sketch comedy group “Soul Fools” and “Minority Rules” in different festivals and venues in Chicago. Throughout his career, Walls has made several TV and radio spots promoting service learning and youth development. Walls earned a BA from DePaul University in Nonprofit Management and an MA in Biology through Project Dragonfly‘s Advanced Inquiry Program in affiliation with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. He is a proud graduate of the 2019 Latino Policy Forum, a Multicultural Leadership Academy which promotes black and brown relationship building. Walls was also chosen as a member of the 2020 University of Chicago Civic Actors Studio and was selected as a 2021 SHIFT Emerging Leader.

Walls believes that everyone can make a difference, but the first change must come from within. With that personal change, you can create change around you.

Learn about the life of Credell Walls as he shares how connecting youth to nature helped him to overcome personal life challenges.

  • “How Connecting Teens to Nature Saved My Life” 
  • Thursday, November 18, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: “Myaamionki ‘place of the Miami’”

Myaamia symbol at Miami universityDragonfly‘s sixth Diversity Cafe on October 21, 2021, features representatives from the Myaamia Center of Miami University. The Center, a Miami Tribe of Oklahoma initiative located within an academic setting, serves the needs of the Myaamia people, Miami University, and partner communities through research, education, and outreach that promote Myaamia language, culture, knowledge, and values.

Through this collaboration, audience members will have the opportunity to learn about the history and understanding of the regional landscape from the Myaamia perspective. The Myaamia people were the native people in the Miami River Valley prior to European colonization in the 1800s; Miami University’s name reflects the name of the region inhabited by the Myaamia. The Myaamia Center’s perspectives of reconnecting with the land of the Myaamia people will enable us to reflect on our own, perhaps disrupted and hopefully regenerating, connections to the land wherever the members of our global Dragonfly community are. 

Pictured: The Myaamia Heritage Logo symbolizes the unique relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University. The design is a reference to Myaamia ribbonwork, a traditional Miami Tribe art form.

  • “Myaamionki ‘place of the Miami’” 
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Gender, Equity, and Leadership in Conservation

Jessie YoungDragonfly‘s fifth Diversity Cafe on July 15, 2021, features Jessie Young, a Creole Belizean woman and a strong advocate for the environment and conservation. She was instrumental in establishing the world-famous Community Baboon Sanctuary and Belize’s first natural history museum. Young’s role as one of the first women’s group leaders involved in conservation in Belize echoed a new wave for women and gender equity leadership in the conservation of their natural resources. She has been recognized by many for her dedication including receiving the James A. Waight Award in 2019, the highest award for conservation in Belize. Read Young’s full bio here.

  • Gender, Equity, and Leadership in Conservation 
  • Thursday, July 15, 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET

This Dragonfly Diversity Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Optimism in Global Conservation

Austin and Taylor Parker

Dragonfly‘s fourth Cafe on June 17, 2021, features brothers Austin and Taylor Parker of Pelecanus, a conservation-based collective committed to telling stories and demonstrating optimism through science, presenting cutting-edge conservation and the role communications play in helping find hope, and inspiring people into conservation action. This talk will take a deep dive into the process of reframing the conservation narrative for the sake of showing innovative conservation futures.

  • Optimism in Global Conservation 
  • Thursday, June 17, 2021, 7:30 p.m. EST

This Dragonfly Cafe is part of a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Scholarly Research

Ginny Boehme

Dragonfly‘s third Diversity Cafe on May 20, 2021, features Ginny Boehme, a science librarian at Miami University, and the library liaison to the Project Dragonfly program. Boehme’s passion lies in helping her students become informed, engaged, and active citizens.

In the current internet-focused age, we like to think of information access as equitable, but this is rarely true. Even with open science initiatives on the rise across the globe, there is much information that remains difficult or impossible for many to access, with heavy bias given to research published by white, English-speaking authors. This talk will focus on information equity in the current research landscape, and will cover some tips for seeking out a diversity of viewpoints during your graduate studies.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Scholarly Research 
  • Thursday, May 20, 2021, 7:30 p.m. EST

This Diversity Cafe is part of Dragonfly Cafes, a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Untangling equity and the environment

Tanner Yess

Dragonfly‘s second Diversity Cafe on April 8, 2021, features Tanner Yess, Co-Executive Director at Groundwork Ohio River Valley of Groundwork USA, a national network of environmental justice-based nonprofits. Yess will discuss acknowledging the intersections of justice, race, equity, and the environment and what comes next. Co-hosted by Dragonfly‘s Jill Korach, Assistant Director of Field Programs, and Gabi Thompson, current Dragonfly master’s student in Miami University’s Advanced Inquiry Program with experiential learning at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.

Yess was raised by scientists and grew up paddling, pedaling, and planting trees. After earning a degree in ecology, he worked on a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. His Peace Corps service involved resource management and eco-tourism. During graduate school, Tanner helped form Greater Cincinnati’s Tri-State Trails Coalition. He is a National Park Service Mountains to Mainstreet Ambassador, SHIFT Emerging Leader, and recipient of the 2018 Murie Center Rising Leader Award. Yess’ passion is creating new pathways for urban youth to access green careers. 

  • Untangling Equity and the Environment: the Future of Conservation and How We Get There
  • Thursday, April 8, 2021, 7:30 p.m. EST

This Diversity Cafe is part of Dragonfly Cafes, a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.

Dragonfly Diversity Cafe Virtual Talk & Discussion: Small-Scale Fishing Foodways

Emily Horton

Dragonfly‘s inaugural Diversity Cafe on March 18, 2021 features National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Knauss Fellow Dr. Emily Horton. Dr. Horton will share her perspective on gender, wellbeing, and alternative governance narratives in small-scale fishing foodways.

Within the context of global fishery declines, there is need for more inclusive environmental governance that addresses sustainability and livelihood concerns. Centered on small-scale fishing communities in a Brazilian marine reserve, this presentation explored how “zangaria” fisheries and a seasonal-fishing ban shape the well-being of different actors situated along zangaria-fishing foodways.

With doctoral training in cultural and ecological anthropology, Dr. Horton specializes in the human dimensions of environmental governance and policy. She has held diverse socio-environmental positions in the nonprofit, governmental, and academic, sectors in North and South America (Brazil and Paraguay). These experiences have shaped her professional vision of collaborating with diverse stakeholders across sectors, disciplines, and geographies to address sustainability and wellbeing challenges in an equitable, just, and inclusive manner. 

  • Rendering Visible: Gender, Wellbeing, & Alternative Governance Narratives in Small-Scale Fishing Foodways 
  • Thursday, March 18, 2021, 7:30 p.m. EST  
  • This talk was not recorded.

This Diversity Cafe is part of Dragonfly Cafes, a developing series of virtual talks focusing on international conservation, urban and rural ecology, inquiry-based education, nature connections, and other relevant topics. Our Diversity Cafes aim to elevate marginalized perspectives on diversity, equality, and inclusion-related topics in an environmental and conservation setting. The invited speakers will explore topical ideas, research, and experience in the first half of the Cafe hour. In the latter half, the Cafe will open up for discussion and audience participation to engage with the speaker(s) and their ideas.