The multi-state meeting is scheduled for March 4-6 at the Texas Tech University Center in Junction.
When Tom Arsuffi first applied for the Llano River Field Station to host the annual regional meeting of the Texas Academy of Science in 2009, there was plenty of skepticism about having the event at an off-campus site.
Turns out, the facility at the Texas Tech University Center in Junction is just the right fit for more than 500 scientists, educators and staff members to gather for collaboration and the exchange of ideas on a variety of subjects. In fact, it's so ideal the meeting is coming back to the Llano River Field Station (LRFS) for a second time.
The LRFS will host the TAS multi-state meeting March 4-6 where Arsuffi estimates between 500 and 600 of the top scientific minds in the region will gather for sessions on subjects ranging from mathematics and conservation ecology to environmental science, freshwater and marine biology and science education. In addition, awards will be presented for the Distinguished Texas Scientist of the Year and the Outstanding Texas Educator of the Year.
“We were really pleased we had such a good meeting that they wanted to come back,” said Arsuffi, director of the Llano River Field Station. “There will be all types of gatherings where scientists can get together, talk about their research, network and give their graduate students one of their first opportunities to give a presentation on that research. It's all about getting people together to share their common experiences and visions. It's an opportunity to have fun and learn things, develop some new ideas and find out what other people around the state and the nation are doing.”
The LRFS is just the second facility in recent years to host the regional meeting twice, joining Kerrville as a two-time host. The process to host a TAS meeting begins with submitting a proposal that outlines the facilities available, the kinds of workshops planned, field trips and what the facility has to offer.
Arsuffi was confident the LRFS could be an ideal place for the meeting, having served as a past president of the academy and familiar with site selection criteria. The LRFS had to have adequate classroom space to handle the myriad of lectures that will be delivered as well as a banquet room for the awards dinner at the end of the weekend.
Arsuffi said the rave reviews the LRFS received from the 2009 meeting was a key factor in hosting it again, being the only site to host the TAS meeting that is not on an actual collegiate campus.
“Everybody said it was one of the best Texas Academy of Science meetings they'd ever had,” Arsuffi said. “Part of it is the campus and what it promotes. People can walk around campus and see the picturesque hills of the Hill Country with a river running through it. It's early enough in the spring that you see a few flowers start to bloom and you have the birds flying around. The people who are with the naturalist associations with Academy just bask in the natural resource glory it exhibits every day of the year.”
Sessions in a wide variety of subjects and disciplines will be held throughout the first two days of the meeting. Late Saturday (March 5), the Distinguished Texas Scientist and Outstanding Texas Educator will deliver lectures followed by a reception and awards banquet that evening. Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan as well as Texas Tech Provost Lawrence Schovanec are scheduled to speak during the weekend.
The meetings will wrap up Sunday (March 6) with field trips, including a kayak trip on the South Llano River, a trip to the Enchanted Rock and Bamberger-Selah Ranch, the Fort McKavett State Historical Site and Caverns of Sonora, and the geology of the Northern Llano Uplift.
“The station is now becoming a destination for scientists and environmental educators, for natural resources, for water, for the study of rivers, watershed stewardship, protections and landowner engagements,” Arsuffi said. “These are all such a critical part of the state of Texas. The Hill Country is what I call the natural resources capital of the state. The meeting is a chance to see what a fantastic jewel in research we have at Texas Tech that is located five hours south of Lubbock.”
For more information on the Texas Academy of Science regional meeting at the Llano River Field Station in Junction, go to its website.