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NWRA Symposium 2003
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Our Yearly Reunion

Newport, RI 

by Deb Duffy, Central Office Manager

As I sat at my desk trying to write this article I tried to think about what I enjoyed most about Symposium 2003 in Newport, RI. Granted, since I run the sales table I do not attend the sessions, except to take the occasional picture, but I do hear about them when our attendees visit my table. I also get to find out what our members have been up to for the past year. Then it hit me, not only are these conferences excellent learning opportunities, but they are also a chance for us to rekindle old friendships and forge a few new ones. We offer a yearly reunion without that nagging urge to lose five more pounds. One attendee summed it up best with:

"Speakers were exceptional, intense information, motivational. Great opportunity to network and catch up with friends."

Even though Tuesday started off with tours and the Homeopathy and Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation seminars, the official kick-off occurred that evening with the ExxonMobil sponsored icebreaker. I must admit that it was one of our noisiest icebreakers to date. People were sharing stories, opinions, and libations as they wandered from table to table. It was during the Icebreaker that I discovered we had guests from Japan and Belize attending the symposium!

From that point until the banquet on Friday night is kind of a blur. Between all the sessions, visits from our members, and tending to other official NWRA business, it's difficult to remember details. One detail that stands out is the Newport Marriott having excellent areas in which to network. Every time I turned around I would see four or five attendees huddled together comparing notes or a few folks sitting back to enjoy coffee together.

I also recall the hotel being overrun by St. Patrick Day Parade enthusiasts and seeing three six-foot leprechauns standing outside of Starbucks on the ground floor. Does this have anything to do with our symposium? Not really, but it's a detail about our conference that I'm not likely to forget.

Our banquet was well attended and thanks to our generous donors, there were plenty of opportunities to win a raffle prize or bid on a silent auction item. Mark Wilson, a Boston Globe writer and naturalist, inspired us with a slide show of his canoe journey through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The pictures were breath-taking, the narrative informative yet entertaining, and the speaker intelligent enough to have his presentation not exceed an amount of time that would be detrimental to a roomful of people with full stomachs sitting in the dark. Some official business occurred as NWRA distributed awards and recognition:

June Labrasseur, James J. Wolf scholarship

Joan F. Kohl, Eric Orendorff Memorial scholarship

Elaine Thrune, NWRA Lifetime Achievement Award for all of her hard work and dedication since NWRAs inception

Martha Pokras, NWRA Board of Directors Award for her work on the Human Resource Committee (a newly formed committee)

Marcy Souza, Veterinary Student Scholarship for her paper "Aspergillosis in Swans—Pathology and Possible Risk Factors"

ExxonMobil, recognition and plaque for their many years of supporting wildlife rehabilitation through sponsorship of portions of the NWRA symposia

Volunteers for Wildlife, grant for "An Ongoing Assessment of Health, Geographic Movement, and Population Dynamics of Eastern Box Turtles in Long Island, NY"

Hawkwatch, grant for "Wildlife Lead Poisoning Reduction Program"

There is more to our symposia than just the sessions and workshops as any of our attendees can tell you. One member said it best with:

"All the great people, both speakers and peers to chat with—I come to these things to recharge my batteries and it works. Great to find so many who take for granted the value in properly splinting a robin's wing or saving a squirrel baby with coccidiosis. Learn something new almost every presentation and every conversation."


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