plans for the Federation as one democratic body.
CCO acting executive director, Steve Bender, was on site and in motion every day in dual roles. He helped ensure Winton and Waller had access to key NWF team members they hoped to connect with and he facilitated annual meeting logistics as needed (contributing to the conference planning team in his NWF regional affiliate director capacity).
NWF CEO, Colin O’Mara, delivered powerful and motivational messages in his opening address. He shared, “Today only one percent of the world’s mammal biomass is wild,” and other stunning statistics that undergird why we all passionately and tirelessly work to give a voice to threatened species, habitats and ways of life that only healthy wild spaces and resources make possible.
“We’ve allowed wildlife to become abstract…something in museums,” O’Mara added. According to NWF research, we have lost 250 million acres to bifurcation in the last 30 years. But the conference also highlighted many rays of hope and an incredible assemblage of people and agencies fighting, and winning, on behalf of nature.
Bender noted during the fast-paced, multi-day event that Oklahoma made a very good showing with the NWF staff and reps from affiliates from Arkansas to Oregon and Virginia to Colorado. “Our delegates were social, vocal, and highly engaged in learning and sharing sessions,” said Bender to the CCO board during the July board meeting in Oklahoma City. “The annual meeting is an exceptional venue to meet our regional and national alliance sister orgs. I heard anecdotally ‘Oklahoma has great things going on.’” The CCO team had a chance to share recent successes on bills at the state capital during breakfast meetups, to highlight the tremendous reception our state has shown to the OMPC outreach efforts during a monarch break-out session, and to promote Oklahoma’s interest in nature programs for primary school-aged children.
resources, and detailed notes from the sessions and caucuses she attended.
Winton and Waller “divided and conquered” to attend as many different and relevant information sessions and caucuses. Winton also voted on behalf of Oklahoma on one dozen resolutions NWF brought to the Federation membership – at the behest of affiliate sponsors – following extensive and rigorous review. Session subjects were as diverse as water quality, climate change, emission standards, habitat fragmentation, diversity and equality, young professionals in nature roles, hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and energy infrastructure.
Waller noted that the effort to rise twice for red-eye flights, travel over a weekend, and network from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for four days was a valuable and enrichment investment. “Simply attending was so educational and an honor to represent the hard work and successes of our Oklahoma CCO/CCOF board and membership,” said Waller. “I took away many new ideas that we can look at leveraging in Oklahoma to advance youth environmental education, found the break-out sessions very inspiring and found all the attendees in the region and across the country eager to network and share inspiring stories.”
High on the interest list of the delegates were opportunities for CCOF to partner with NWF in several fund-sharing partnerships, such as promoting Wildlife Habitat Certifications or new subscriptions to National Wildlife Magazine.
Waller attended a tour for a new NWF habitat certification program for places of worship, called Sacred Spaces, where the promotion of environmentally beneficial grounds initiatives and creation of pollinator habitat are among the many actions a spiritual community can be helped to achieve and be recognized for.
O’Mara encouraged all affiliates during the 82nd annual conference to continue to keep the faith and keep up the fight on behalf of wildlife and wild places during challenging political times and in the face of great climatological volatility. “Right now, in this crisis, we must punch above our weight,” said O’Mara in his rally call.
Together, Oklahoma and our 50 other Federation affiliates are a true force for nature!