Celebrating three decades of creating awareness about the importance of conserving natural environments and sustainable interactions among plants, animals and people, Western Carolina University’s 30th annual Cullowhee Native Plant Conference will be held Wednesday, July 17, through Saturday, July 20. Conference registration remains open through Friday, July 12.
The annual gathering of plant enthusiasts began in 1984 in an effort to increase interest in and knowledge of propagating and preserving native Southeastern plant species. “The conference is the oldest and largest of its kind in the Southeast and has spawned a number of satellite conferences around the country,” said Robert Wyatt, retired professor of botany and ecology at the University of Georgia and current conference director.
Keynote speakers for this year’s conference will be authors Douglas Tallamy and Janisse Ray. Tallamy, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, will lead a talk on “Maintaining Curb Appeal with Native Plants” and also will present “Networks for Life: Your Role in Stitching the Natural World Together.” In “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food,” Ray encourages readers to understand that in order to secure the future of food, they must first understand and value its source.
Conference attendees will have their choice of general and concurrent sessions, all-day and half-day field trips, workshops and nature walks. Other session topics include “Edible Native Plants of the Gulf Coast,” “Muddy Sneakers: The Joy of Learning Outside” and “Garden Conversations.”
The conference will offer a home gardening miniconference beginning at 8:15 a.m. on July 20. Leaders will help home gardeners understand how they can bring about a healthier garden environment. The session is included for all regular conference participants and can be attended by others for a $25 fee.
Campus lodging and dining options are available for conference participants. For more details and to register, visit nativeplantconference. wcu.edu or call WCU’s Office of Continuing and Professional Education at (828)227-7397.