Dalton State to co-host conservation symposium

Northwest Georgia and southwest Tennessee are areas rich in biodiversity, and Carmen Flammini and John Lugthart hope to keep it that way.

Flammini, a part-time instructor in biology at Dalton State College, and Lugthart, a biology professor at the college, will join several other speakers at the first-ever International Conservation Symposium on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room 105 of the Brown Center on Dalton State College's campus. This event is being co-hosted with Brookwood School.

All ages are welcome.

The key message of the symposium is to create community awareness of global and regional conservation efforts, and in doing so, encourage members of the community to help in the protection of local ecosystems. The northwest Georgia/southeast Tennessee area is home to many species at risk of disappearing.

"Conservation challenges are numerous," said Lugthart. "One of the best ways to achieve a greater commitment of our community in overcoming the challenges is through awareness and education. That's why it's important to host events like this and partner with conservation agencies. We are excited to be hosting this symposium."

This region is also part of the migration path taken annually by the monarch butterfly as it migrates between Mexico and Canada during the changing seasons.

The keynote speakers will be Cuauhtémoc Saenz and Arnulfo Blanco, visiting professors from Mexico who have worked extensively with the conservation of monarch butterflies. They will speak not only on the efforts being made in Mexico for the butterflies, but also on reforestation programs for the sacred/oyamel fir tree and how it is important to mountain ecosystems.

Bernie Kuhajda will speak on the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute's role in protecting the region's environment. Lugthart and Chris Manis, assistant professor of biology at Dalton State, will discuss the college's Turtle Assurance Colony and ecological restoration of Lakeshore Park. Stephen Bontekoe, Limestone Valley Resource Conservation and Development conservationist, will address water conservation efforts in northwest Georgia, while James Adams, a professor of biology at the college, will explain the life history and migratory patterns of monarch butterflies. Flammini will teach attendees about rearing monarch butterflies indoors and how citizens can get involved.

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