National News

2023 National Convention Information

Convention Day 1 Recap:

This week, Ikes from across the country arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the League's national convention. Here's a recap of what happened as the convention officially opened on Thursday.

With a focus on putting solutions into action, the convention kicked off with discussions on a variety of challenges that have put “conservation at a crossroads,” including nitrate pollution, biodiversity and how to engage new generations in outdoor traditions like hunting and fishing.

Presiding over the opening general session, League National President Vicki Arnold welcomed a crowd that included many first-time attendees from across the United States. President Arnold urged all Ikes to advance the League’s vision for a second century of conservation leadership by selecting one program from the vision and becoming a leader for that priority in their community. Read the whole vision statement.

Kim Morrow, chief sustainability officer for the City of Lincoln, described some of the host city’s climate adaptation and water stewardship programs, and she thanked the League for its perseverance and hard work. 

"You Are Nature's Best Hope"

In a detailed presentation about the fragility of biodiversity, author Doug Tallamy, Ph.D., described the essential role of insects and native plants in balancing nature and ecosystem health. Only five percent of the land and water in the lower 48 states, he said, is even close to its natural condition. And that puts many species of plants and animals – including humans – at risk because life depends on a healthy and biologically diverse environment. This is an idea he explores in his recent book, “Nature’s Best Hope.”

But through better stewardship of land and water, starting with our own neighborhoods and back yards, people can reduce the damage of habitat loss and climate change. Tallamy introduced the idea of “homegrown national parks” – a concept of building resilience and awareness in our local communities. Just a few key actions where we live can help transform traditional landscaping, which offers few benefits to wildlife, into a homegrown national park:

·         Reduce the lawn area (there are 44 million acres of lawn in the U.S.)

·         Plant more native shrubs, trees and ground cover

·         Remove invasive plants

·         Protect natural areas 

Who Has Grit and Patience?

Women who go fishing are more likely to exhibit confidence, grit, patience, happiness and health. That’s one of the insights shared by Dave Chanda (shown above),  president and CEO of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. RBFF seeks to attract more people to fishing and boating, and one of the Foundation’s demographic targets is women. Chanda described the group’s Take Me Fishing campaign, including the Spanish-language version, Vamos a Pescar.

There are firearms in nearly half of households in the U.S., noted Bill Dunn, vice president for marketing at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That includes a lot of new gun owners, and training is a top priority for the new owners. He proposed a “plus one” program to include these new owners in visits to shooting ranges.

Award-Winning Chapters and Members

At the awards luncheon Thursday, the League recognized many members and chapters for their achievements in the areas of membership, communications, programs and individual leadership. See the full list of recipients.


Much more is still to come as the convention continues Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow's highlights (all times in Central) include:

·         Green Crew – A Model for Leadership (9:15 a.m.)

·         Election of National Officers (9:35 a.m.)

·         Art and Conservation on Indiana Waterways (11:00 a.m.)

·         Clean Water at a Crossroads: Panel Discussion (11:30 a.m.)

·         Conservation Lunch with Andrew McKean, Conservation Editor for Outdoor Life (12:30 p.m.)

·         League Merchandise Sales (2:30 – 4:30 p.m.)

·         Workshops (2:15 and 3:30 p.m.)

·         Lincoln Chapter Dinner

Convention Day 2 Recap:

On the second day of the League's national convention, Ikes enjoyed fascinating presentations and workshops from a variety of experts. They also participated in our tradition of bottom-up governance by electing their fellow members to national officer positions. Here's a recap of what happened on Friday.

The Green Crew Rocks the Convention

Three young adults representing the Green Crew received a standing ovation after their presentation to the League Friday morning. The Crew provides an opportunity for youth who want to tackle conservation challenges and develop leadership experience at the same time.

In partnership with the League’s Minnesota Valley Chapter, the Green Crew has already accomplished a number of conservation projects – and has raised interest from other chapters nationwide.

On Friday, the message from the Crew was clear: if you want youth to be involved in the future, involve them in the present! Read more about the Green Crew in Outdoor America.


National Officer Elections

The League members present at convention on Friday elected a slate of national officers:

·         National President - Jodi Arndt Labs

·         National Vice President - Herbert Pritchett, Sr.

·         National Secretary - Jim Storer

·         National Treasurer - Scott Meyer


Hope for America's Outdoor Traditions

Outdoor Life editor Andrew McKean gave convention attendees food for thought at the conservation luncheon. He described a broad trend away from the hunting and fishing traditions that shaped the League’s early popularity.

But he said the League’s focus on regional and local conservation is a strength, and its work to provide accessible on-ramps to outdoor recreation and conservation advocacy could help the organization to thrive in the decades ahead.

Water Panel Looks at Big Challenges

The League invited experts from Des Moines and the Washington DC region to share their expertise about providing clean water to their respective communities. Nicole Horvath of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Ted Corrigan of the Des Moines Water Works talked about the challenges of dealing with nitrate and chloride pollution respectively.

Later in the day, Samantha Briggs, Heather Wilson and Abby Hileman from the League’s national staff provided insights into the progress of Salt Watch, Nitrate Watch and outreach to an expanding universe of partners and volunteers.

Heather presented about the League’s Clean Water Hub database, a powerful tool for water quality monitors and the public. At this workshop, attendees saw how to navigate the Hub to view data in their communities and make the most of the maps, graphics, and other resources the Hub provides. Attendees also explored how to take the next step and turn data in the Hub into action in their communities.

Meanwhile, Abby (shown above) presented a workshop on how to start a local Salt Watch campaign. The workshop covered the background of the Salt Watch program, road salt application in the United States, deep dives into different applicator groups and how to approach them, and case studies of individuals who made (and continue to make) a difference by reducing road salt pollution in their communities. Attendees thought about road salt use in their own communities and considered how they might start their own road salt reduction campaign or Salt Watch monitoring program. They also received a workbook for creating a road map to success. Get your own copy of the workbook.

How to Combine Art and Conservation: Indiana Waterways

A small initiative that allowed a group of Indiana artists to continue painting during the pandemic turned into a much larger project that highlighted the threats to Indiana waterways – and the work by the Izaak Walton League to improve the state’s streams and rivers. Avon Waters presented the story of the innovative program and ways League chapters could undertake similar programs. Catch up on the fascinating partnership in Outdoor America.

Convention Day 3 Recap:

It's been an amazing week. Ikes from all over the country came together in Nebraska to hear about today's most important conservation topics, shape the League's path for the coming years, and, of course, enjoy time together. Here's what happened on the final day of our convention.

League Approves Resolutions on PFAS, Performance-Based Conservation on Farms, Renewable Energy and Carbon Dioxide Pipelines

On Saturday, delegates to the convention approved four resolutions addressing conservation issues.

Dangerous PFAS and microplastics. This resolution amends the League’s conservation policy so as to identify PFAS and PFOS as chemicals that contaminate water and land and threaten human health and wildlife, and information about these threats should be shared with the public.

Performance-based compensation for agriculture programs. This resolution amends the League’s conservation policy to urge a transition from practice-based to performance-based compensation that incentivizes conservation steps that enhance soil health, reduce erosion and improve water quality.

Equitable net metering. This resolution urges state utility authorities to create incentives for “net metering,” where a non-utility that generates electricity from solar, wind or other renewable sources can get credit for power fed back into the electric grid.

Carbon dioxide pipelines and enhanced oil recovery. This resolution directs the League to oppose the use of eminent domain to condemn private land for construction of carbon dioxide sequestration pipelines, and also to oppose use of captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery.

The resolutions will be officially added to the League's policy handbook in the coming weeks. They will also appear in the next issue of Outdoor America.

 Izaak Walton League of America Endowment Awards

The Izaak Walton League of America Endowment awarded 22 grants totaling $116,610 to League chapters and offices. The grants, selected by the Endowment board, are focused on conservation, education and outdoor recreation programs. Twenty-eight grant applications were submitted.

Endowment President Patty Nunn noted that they hate to turn down any application, but the Endowment has a limited amount of funds to distribute each year.

National Youth Convention

The League’s Youth Convention completed its three-day adventure and presented a short summary to the adults Saturday morning. Along with some memorable parties and meals in between events, the youth visited the Nebraska State Capitol, the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, the Schramm Education Center and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Eugene T. Mahoney State Park.

Watch your mailbox for the next issue of Outdoor America, containing more convention highlights. And be sure to mark your calendar for the 2024 national convention. We'll be in Cambridge, Maryland, July 14-16 - and we hope to see you there.

2022 National Convention Information