Distancing Partners online conference


distancing partners

We may not be able to hold our annual Gathering Partners conference in person as we had planned, but that won’t stop us. Register to attend our online conference and join as you are able to learn something new, get advanced training hours, and have fun!

See the agenda below, or download a printable PDF of all the planned sessions and activities.


Pre-conference activities


Getting ready for Zoom

Join a virtual open house to learn how to use Zoom and make the most of this year’s conference! Four sessions will be available throughout the week; pick the one that works best for your schedule.


Contests and virtual exhibits
Available starting at 10:00 am on Monday, May 11

Submit entries for our photo contest and virtual poster session, and start working on the scavenger hunt, #NatureInPlace BINGO, and iNaturalist challenge!


Friday, May 15, 2020


Virtual field trip: Explore the Northwoods (PART 1)
Available starting at 10:00 am

Explore the Northwoods with virtual guide Joe Walewski, Director of Naturalist Training at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.


Virtual banquet
6:00 to 8:00 pm

Bring your own dinner and join us for a virtual banquet! We’ll have announcements, a short keynote address, program updates, and presidential pin winners.


Saturday, May 16, 2020


Hidden gems to visit on the North Shore
9:00 to 9:50 am

Two Harbors-based Master Naturalist Phil Hartley shares 20-some of his favorite nature sites between Duluth and Silver Bay. Most are somewhat off-the-beaten-track locations used by few locals and even fewer tourists. A handout with descriptions and directions will be provided.


How you can influence natural resource management: An invasive species perspective
10:00 to 10:50 am

Join University of Minnesota Extension educators Megan Weber and Angie Gupta as they take you on a journey exploring where natural resource management and policy happens, and how you can engage with decision-makers to affect change.


Find the wild places (from your desk): Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program 
11:00 to 11:50 am

Kari Wallin and David Minor. The SNA program is in the process of creating several online initiatives to engage people with their public lands both remotely and virtually. Learn more about these projects, how you can connect to your favorite public lands virtually, and share them with your friends!


Virtual field trip: Discussion and Q&A (PART 2)
1:30 to 3:00 pm

Joe Walewski, Kurt Mead, Margie Menzies, and Peter Harris will discuss what you saw and take your questions about the Northwoods virtual field trip.


Trivia contest
4:00 to 6:00 pm

Nature nerds unite! Join a virtual trivia game featuring questions about volunteer programs, Minnesota flora and fauna, and other fun topics. Fabulous prizes are on the line, and you can play against Extension staff and see if you have what it takes to beat the experts!


Sunday, May 17, 2020


Contests and virtual exhibits close
12:00 pm

Make sure your photo contest votes are in, iNaturalist observations entered, BINGO cards submitted, and scavenger clues answered by noon on Sunday if you would like to be eligible for fabulous prizes! Virtual exhibits will also close at this time.


Closing ceremonies
1:00 to 2:00 pm

Contest winners, announcements, and a Q&A with Extension natural resources program team members.