The essence of the RAE Summit experience

Kent and fellow Florida Fish & Wildlife colleagues at the 2016 Summit in New Orleans. 

“It’s 2018, and you know what that means. It’s a RAE Summit year!” So began a conversation in early January of this year with one of my Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission colleagues, the excitement in his voice a palpable reminder of his enthusiasm about attending this great meeting of the minds. 

I’ve been a resource manager in Florida for going on three decades now, and as such, Restore America’s Estuaries’ Summits have provided a stimulating and enjoyable format to share ideas and learn everything from soup to nuts about how other practitioners of estuarine habitat conservation ply their trade. It’s also been a venue where our estuarine habitat biologists can show off their shiny wares: Fine habitat restoration projects completed by successfully navigating a maze of partnering corridors, administrative challenges, and polished by the all too frequent hurricane.

I guess what’s most meaningful to me about RAE meetings is the vast networking opportunities provided to attendees. Occasionally, I meet up with old friends from graduate school who followed a similar career path in another part of the country. In advance of the meeting, there’s always a rapid exchange of emails setting up meetings with national partners on a number of project fronts, from living shorelines website development, to physical conservation projects of regional significance. Where else can government resource managers expand their experience and learn about new and innovative restoration methods? (I know, I know, on the web! But this old-school information junkie appreciates making connections across a table instead of miles of electronic airspace.)

The essence of a RAE summit is quite simply the dynamic exchange of ideas with talented people of a shared experience, whether at a special session presentation or a local watering hole after a long day. I always leave these meetings charged with excitement about what we do and energized to tackle our work with renewed vigor. A RAE summit to me, is a glass full of promise from the fountain of professional youth!

Register today for the 2018 Summit to join Kent and hundreds others in Long Beach, California.

Kent Smith is a biological administrator of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.