The George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas & Cultural Sites • New Orleans, Louisiana • March 14–18, 2011

Special events

Special events are a big part of the GWS conference experience.  Receptions, a silent auction, Native Film Night, and the capstone GWS/NPS Awards Banquet are just part of what's in store for GWS2011.  As arrangements firm up for these Special Events, we will add information to this page.


Welcoming Reception | Monday, March 14, 7:00-8:30 pm | Armstrong Ballroom

We'll welcome you to New Orleans with an informal get-together ... it'll be a chance to renew old acquaintances and make new ones! A selection of complimentary hot and cold hors d'oeuvres; cash bar.


Poster Spotlight Reception | Tuesday, March 15, 6:30–7:30 pm | Napoleon Ballroom C

GWS2011's Poster Session starts on Sunday evening and runs through Thursday mid-afternoon. On Tuesday evening, we will host a reception in the area immediately adjacent to the posters. Presenters will be standing by their posters / computer demos so you can ask questions. It's the perfect time to cruise the posters! Complimentary light snacks; cash bar.




Special Evening Sessions | Tuesday, March 15, 7:30–9:30 pm | Bayside Room

The BP Oil Spill Response: Reflections from Two Agency Directors (7:30–8:30)
Moderator: Gary Machlis, Science Advisor to the Director, National Park Service, Washington, DC
Presenters: Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director, National Park Service, Washington, DC
Marcia McNutt, Director, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA
Jon Jarvis and Marcia McNutt will share their thoughts on the response of their respective agencies to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill of 2010. Both directors spent considerable time in the region after the spill, and will share with us their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the federal response of USNPS and USGS.

The NPS Science Initiative: A Dialogue on Progress (8:30–9:30)
Gary Machlis, Science Advisor to the Director, National Park Service, Washington, DC
The NPS has embarked on a Science Initiative to advance the role of science in the NPS, and the role of the NPS within the scientific community. The purposes of this workshop are to: 1) update interested GWS meeting participants on the Science Initiative, 2) describe proposed actions and projects that could be part of the Initiative, and 3) gather input from participants on how best to advance science within the NPS.

Walkin’ in the Footsteps of George Silent Auction Wrap-Up | Wednesday evening, March 16, 6:30–7:30 pm

On Wednesday evening, we have the wrap-up of the Walkin' in the Footsteps of George Silent Auction to benefit the George Melendez Wright Student Travel Scholarship program. Student emcees (and maybe some impromptu music) will get you in the mood to bid on a large variety of fun silent auction items. Your winning bids benefit a great cause, so plan to be there! Complimentary light snacks; cash bar.


National Park Service Northeast Region Reception | Wednesday, March 16, 8:00-9:30 pm | Bayside Room A

By invitation only • Organized by NPS Norheast Region

All attendees from NPS NER welcome at this reception. Snacks; Cash bar.


Presentation of the 2011 Kenton Miller Award for Innovation in Protected Areas Management and the IUCN–IRF Young Conservationist Award | Wednesday, March 16, 8:00-9:30 pm | Bayside Room B

Open to all registrants • Organized by IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas • Cash bar

This prestigious award is given annually at a major conservation event by IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas. Named for Dr. Kenton R. Miller, one of the leading figures in international protected area conservation, the award honors innovation in

  • Communications;
  • Planning and Management;
  • Finance and Economics;
  • Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation;
  • Learning and Capacity Building; or
  • Governance.

The award carries a $5,000 stipend.  Click here for more information about the Kenton Miller Award.

At the same time, the IUCN–IRF Young Conservationist Award will be bestowed.  This award is a partnership between IUCN and the International Ranger Federation (IRF), and aims to recognize and raise awareness of the outstanding contributions made to the management of protected areas, and leadership shown, by young conservationists. It also seeks to encourage young professionals and help them develop networks by inviting winners to attend one of the global conservation events and become a member of the Young Conservationists Global Community.  This year’s award recipient will attend the GWS Conference and award ceremony.  Click here for more information about the Young Conservationist Award.

George Melendez Wright Climate Change Youth Initiative Reception | Wednesday, March 16, 8:00-9:30 pm | Bayside Room C

Open to all registrants

Snacks; Cash bar.



Native Film Night | Wednesday, March 16, 8:00–9:30 pm | Nottaway Room

Open to all registrants

GWS2011 will feature the third Native Film Night.  This popular event is open to all registrants and features short films produced by Native filmmakers and collaborators.

Why does the George Wright Society (GWS) conference host a Native Film Night? The GWS strives to connect people, places, knowledge and ideas to foster excellence in natural and cultural resource management, as well as in research, protection and interpretation in parks and equivalent reserves.  Film is an extraordinary and vivid medium for education and communication about these themes.

The NFN selections tell stories not commonly conveyed, each with its own unique voice and vision. They connect culture, land and people across generations. And they underscore the knowledge, vision, perspectives and contributions of Native peoples to the caretaking of the Earth and human cultures.


The George Wright Society / National Park Service Awards Banquet | Thursday, March 17, 6:30–9:30 pm

Awards banquet cruise aboard the Steamboat "Natchez," an authentic Mississippi River paddlewheeler. Advance ticket purchase required. This event is limited to 300 persons and is filling rapidly. $70 ticket price includes the cost of dinner and the cruise.  A cash bar will be available.

A GWS tradition, the Thursday evening Awards Banquet recognizes the winners of "Imagine Excellence," the GWS awards program. At GWS2011, the banquet will also feature the presentation of the National Park Service Director's Awards for Natural Resources Stewardship, the NPS Appleman-Judd-Lewis Awards for cultural resources, and the NPS Directors Award for Wilderness Stewardship.  

For 2011, we are availing ourselves of the opportunity to experience a bit of New Orleans history: a banquet cruise aboad the Steamboat "Natchez," a reproduction paddlewheeler of the type that used to ply the Mississippi River — complete wih calliope.  We checked it out in person and it's a very nice boat.  It is the only authentic-design steamboat operating in New Orleans. 

Boarding is 6:30 for a 7:00pm departure (and that's 7:00pm sharp — don't be late, boat captains do not wait!). After an hour or so on the river, a plated dinner will be served in the main ballroom.  After dinner, while docked back at the wharf, we will remain in the ballroom for the presentation of the awards.  Cash bars will be available thoughout the evening.

The entree will be a special menu item: Chicken Pontalba. In New Orleans, this entree is considered to be one of the finest dishes ever created. It was first made at the famous Brennan's restaurant in the French Quarter by Chef Paul Blange in the early 1950s.

"It was named after the beautiful Baroness Pontalba who came to New Orleans in the 1700's," says Ted Brennan, one of the owners. Like the Baroness, who gave lavish parties and served rich, creative Creole dishes, Chicken Pontalba is a rich, lavish dish that is truly Creole in creation.  Chicken Pontabla: chicken breast sautéed and served on a bed of potatoes, mushrooms, ham and green onions then topped with a béarnaise sauce.  (Pasta primavera will be the vegetarian entree; you can reserve one on the Conference Registration form.)