Zahner Conservation Lectures
Every summer the Highlands Nature Center hosts free evening lectures on Thursdays focused on the theme of natural history and conservation, a tradition that began in the 1930s. Today, these lectures are known as the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series, which serves to educate and inspire the public through a series of talks from well-known regional scientists, conservationists, artists, and writers. The public is invited to participate in these free lectures, which will be held at the Highlands Nature Center, 930 Horse Cove Road in Highlands.
All lectures are held at 7:00pm at the Highlands Nature Center. These lectures are free and open to the public.
Photo (c) Clay Bolt.
Highlands, the Southern End of the Southern Appalachians: Maintaining its Hundred Million Year-old Biodiversity Legacy
Alan Weakley, UNC Herbarium Director and Adjunct Faculty
Dr. Alan Weakley will kick off the Series with a lecture titled “Highlands, the Southern End of the Southern Appalachians: Maintaining its Hundred Million Year-old Biodiversity Legacy.” Alan Weakley currently serves as the Director of the UNC Herbarium at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, where he has collected over 250 species and annotated over 3,500 specimens. Dr. Weakley is also Adjunct Assistant Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is the author of “Flora of the Southern & Mid-Atlantic States,” co-author of the “Flora of Virginia”, and co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey. Dr. Weakley is a plant systematist, plant community ecologist, biogeographer, and conservation biologist focused on the species and systems of the Southeastern United States. He has been, and continues to be, actively involved in several conservation groups, including the N.C Natural Heritage Trust Fund, where he serves as Trustee.
The Demise of a Single Floral Genus as an Indicator of Environmental Devastation
Rekha Morris, South Carolina Master Gardener; Ph.D.
Rekha Morris will discuss “The Demise of a Single Floral Genus as an Indicator of Environmental Devastation.” Dr. Morris is a South Carolina Master Gardener with a Ph.D. in early Indian art. She is a member of numerous horticultural societies, and was a founding member of the Southeastern Horticultural Society. Dr. Morris teaches several programs for the SC Master Gardeners, and her special interests are shade gardening, and native plants of the southeastern U.S. and their Asian counterparts.
Environmental Health, Genes, and Contaminants: New Lessons from Wildlife
Louis Guillette, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina
Louis J. Guillette, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, will lecture on “Environmental Health, Genes, and Contaminants: New Lessons from Wildlife.” He has spent decades examining how environmental pollutants such as endocrine disrupters affect the development and functioning of the reproductive system in vertebrates, specifically alligators, fish, and frogs. Many endocrine disrupters mimic estrogen and have the potential to have significant effects on reproduction and development. Dr. Guillette’s work on comparative reproductive biology and developmental endocrinology has been internationally recognized, and he has assisted several countries on the development of reproductive biology programs for endangered wildlife.
Restoring the Endangered Red Wolf to the Wilds of the Southern Appalachians
Ron Sutherland, Conservation Scientist, Wildlands Network
Ron Sutherland is a conservation scientist for Wildlands Network who will talk about the Red Wolf in a lecture titled “Restoring the Endangered Red Wolf to the Wilds of the Southern Appalachians.” His focus at Wildlands Network has been on creating a Wildlands Network Design for the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Plain, and on designing and implementing wildlife corridors connecting the coastal plain to the Southern Appalachians. Having served twice as N.C. Herpetological Society Vice President, he has also been President of the Triangle Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology since 2008. He completed his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy at Duke University, where he studied the response of a wide range of wildlife species to urbanization and vehicle traffic in the Sandhills region of North Carolina.
Dividing Spring: History and Mythology of the Little Tennessee and Chattooga Headwaters
Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian Regional Director, Wilderness Society
Brent Martin is a lifetime writer, educator, and conservationist, and lives in the Cowee community of western North Carolina. He will draw upon his experiences in a lecture titled “Dividing Spring: History and Mythology of the Little Tennessee and Chattooga Headwaters.” During Martin’s career in conservation he has worked for the Armuchee Alliance, Georgia Forestwatch, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, and The Wilderness Society, where he currently serves as Southern Appalachian Regional Director in Sylva, NC. He has an M.A. and A.B.D in History from Georgia State University, and is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, Poems from Snow Hill Road, A Shout in the Woods, and Every Breath Sings Mountains, which he co-authored with writers Thomas Rain Crowe and Barbara Duncan. His poetry and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Chattahoochee Review, Eno Journal, New Southerner, Kudzu Review, Smoky Mountain News, and elsewhere.
Why We Should All be Concerned About Climate Change (Sponsored by Highlands–Cashiers Land Trust)
Lenny Bernstein, President, L.S. Bernstein & Associates (retired)
Dr. Lenny Bernstein’s experiences with studying climate change during his career make him an ideal candidate to discuss “Why We Should All be Concerned About Climate Change.” For over 30 years, Lenny Bernstein devoted his career to working on environmental issues for the petroleum industry, the last 10 of which he was a manager in Mobil Corporation’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Department. After leaving Mobil in 1999, Lenny formed L.S. Bernstein & Associates, an environmental consulting company advising industrial clients on technical and political developments on climate change and other environmental issues. He attended every UN negotiating session on climate change from 1995 through 2007, was a Lead Author on the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Third Assessment Report published in 2001, a Convening Lead Author on the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007, and a member of the Core Writing Team for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Synthesis Report, also published in 2007. As a result of these activities, he was one of the IPCC experts who contributed to the IPCC’s winning half the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize; Al Gore won the other half. Lenny closed his consulting business at the end of 2008 and is now using his climate change expertise as a volunteer for a variety of organizations. He has been teaching climate change courses at College for Seniors since 2004. This lecture is sponsored by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust.
The Southern Appalachians: Apothecary of North America
Patricia Kyritsi Howell, Author, Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians. In memory of Joseph Gatins.
Patricia Kyritsi Howell will speak on “The Southern Appalachians: Apothecary of North America.” Her herbal studies began as a teenager and continued informally through her life until she enrolled in the California School of Herbal Studies. In 1993 she opened the Healing with Herbs Institute and in 1998 she founded the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in northeast Georgia, which is the only school in Georgia to offer in-depth herbal education. Patricia’s book, Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians (2006) is one of the foremost resources on regional native plant medicines. Patricia serves as a member of the Governing Council of the American Herbalists Guild, advises the Atlanta Botanical Garden on medicinal herb programming and is the co-founder of the Georgia Herbalists Guild.
Last September the Highlands Biological Foundation lost a friend, advocate, and Trustee, Joseph Gatins, who died of a heart attack while on vacation. Joe had a 21-year career as an award-winning reporter and editor at the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. Upon retirement in 1996, Joe and his wife Fran moved to the north Georgia mountains. He immersed himself in the region’s heritage and joined the HBF Board in 2005 where he served until his death. In 2009, Joe published a history of his family, which build the landmark Georgian Terrace Hotel, in a book titled “We Were Dancing on a Volcano: Bloodlines and Fault Lines of a Star-Crossed Atlanta Family 1849-1989.” Joe will long be remembered and missed for his friendship and fiery form of advocacy.
Ecology and Evolution in Las Islas Encantadas – A Darwin–Inspired Exploration of the Galapagos Islands
Jim Costa, Executive Director, Highlands Biological Station
Dr. Jim Costa, executive director of the Highlands Biological Station, will give a lecture titled “Ecology and Evolution in Las Islas Encantadas – A Darwin-Inspired Exploration of the Galapagos Islands.” Dr. Costa is an Entomologist and the author of several books including “The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species.” In fact, he has devoted much of his time to studying evolution and Charles Darwin’s life and work. Dr. Costa has also studied the work of Alfred Russell Wallace. His most recent writing project, “On the Organic Law of Change: A Facsimile Edition and Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace’s Species Notebook of 1855-1859” will be available through the Harvard University Press in October. During the Fall and Spring semesters, Dr. Costa is a Biology Professor at Western Carolina University.