By Kati Moore, MEM ‘16

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Conservation Society and Audubon’s Toyota Together Green program will host a symposium on unconventional conservation initiatives at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, in Environment Hall’s Field Auditorium

The symposium, titled “Social Innovation in Conservation,” will feature four speakers that work in a variety of communities not often involved in conservation initiatives. Each speaker is involved with Audubon’s Toyota Together Green program: Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, Laura Fieselman, and Dave Grace are Fellows in the program and Tara Mei Smith is a recipient of an Innovation Grant.

The event is free and open to the Nicholas School and Duke communities, but advance registration is required. To RSVP, email Dave Grace at by Thursday, Oct. 1.

At the event, Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, vice president for science and conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, will speak about the urban habitat restoration project she founded with the garden. The project engages local students in removing invasive species and enhancing pollinator habitats at five wetland areas around Atlanta.

Laura Fieselman, executive assistant at the National Farm to School Network, will speak about her work with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina to tell the stories of Burmese immigrants and multi-generational African American farming families in the North Carolina piedmont. Through narrative photo essays, she aims to document the creative ways these communities approach resource conservation and ethics.

Tara Mei Smith, founder of Extra Terrestrial Projects in New York, will speak about how this project removes edible invasive species from local habitats by putting them on the table. Her project aims to involve New York foodies in the conservation of native habitats and wildlife migration pathways.
Dave Grace, a joint degree student in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Divinity School, will introduce local high school students who are part of the Youth Faith Conservation Network he founded at Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church. The students, Edward Landi, Mary Todd Earnhardt, and Owen Clapp, will speak about their projects to involve local faith communities in native plant landscaping, wildlife monitoring, and renewable energy initiatives.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be provided by Duke Conservation Society.

Learn more about Audubon’s Toyota TogetherGreen project here.