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Conservation Changemakers Speaker Series 

Please join our community partner Cincinnati Nature Center for a series of online talks: Conservation Changemakers. These compelling speakers are changing the conversation about our environment, making an impact in their communities, and thinking about how to make nature more accessible and equitable for all. 

Events will occur on Zoom; preregistration is required to access the events. Registration is free for Cincinnati Nature Center members and nonmembers alike.

Learn more and register: https://www.cincynature.org/things-to-do/for-adults/conservation-changemakers-speaker-series-online/

Topics and Dates

The Bug Chicks, Entomologists and Educators, and Brandon Reynolds, Environmental Consultant and Founder of B the Keeper 

Wednesday, September 28, 7-8 pm 
Join Jessica Honaker and Kristie Reddick of The Bug Chicks, along with Brandon Reynolds of B the Keeper for their take on the power of empathy and how exposure to the outdoors promotes self-expression, dissolves fear and bridges the gap between the natural world and our own. 

Nicole Jackson, Environmental Educator and Founder of Black in National Parks Week 

Wednesday, October 19, 7-8 pm 
Join environmental educator Nicole Jackson for a reflective presentation on the benefits of building meaningful relationships with nature. She will share some of the challenges and triumphs she’s faced in her career and discuss how we can be more impactful using nature as a guide for success. 

Priya Nanjappa, Toad Scientist and Vice President of Conservation Programs at National Parks Conservation Association  

Wednesday, November 9, 7-8 pm 
Priya Nanjappa, Vice President of Conservation Programs at the National Parks Conservation Association, shares her journey as a nature lover, toad scientist, and environmental leader. Having worked on both the advocacy and governmental sides of the public policy world, she provides inspiration and useful strategies for people looking to shape policy for conservation. She also invites us to think about how overlooked creatures like amphibians can frame the way we think about inclusivity, equity, and one another. 

Lyla June, Indigenous Scholar, Musician and Community Organizer, and Jheri Neri, Founder of the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition 

Wednesday, December 7, 7-8 pm 
Lyla June (Diné/Tsétsêhéstâhese) discusses native food systems in pre-Columbian times. Whether it’s burning grasslands to maintain habitat for deer, buffalo, antelope, etc, or building intertidal rock walls to catch sediment for clam habitat, native people have a knack for building a home for their food in reciprocal relationships. Through this maintenance of the home of edible plants and animals, whom we see as relatives, our food can come to us through consensual and respectful relationship. Jheri Neri, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition (GCNAC), provides an introduction and shares examples of current work that is being done by GCNAC to restore relationships with the land in the city of Cincinnati. 

About the Speakers

The Bug Chicks 

Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks, entomologists and professional educators who inspire people of all ages to find their inner bugdork! Connecting the science of entomology with social-emotional learning, they use bugs to help people open their minds, break down prejudices, and feel empowered in their lives. 

Brandon Reynolds 

Upon graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 2015, Brandon entered the advertising industry for a few years before starting a new role as an apprentice beekeeper. Here he learned the value of native plants and the vital role pollinators play in promoting regional biodiversity. To put his marketing degree to work, he founded B the Keeper in 2019 to “sell” sustainability by working with local businesses and landowners to install pollinator habitats in urban areas.

Lyla June 

Lyla June is an Indigenous musician, scholar, and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne), and European lineages. Her dynamic, multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences across the globe towards personal, collective, and ecological healing. She blends studies in human ecology at Stanford, graduate work in Indigenous Pedagogy, and the traditional worldview she grew up with to inform her music, perspectives, and solutions. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree, focusing on Indigenous food systems revitalization. 

Jheri Neri 

Jheri Neri ( Ndé / Diné Nations ) spent the first 12 years of his adult life active duty in the U.S. military. After being discharged honorably, he spent the next few years drinking, making a lot of bad decisions, and finding sobriety. Since then, he served as a board member with the nonprofit Village Green Foundation for five years, and worked as a volunteer empowering kids and adults in the neighborhood by showing them how to build bikes with the MOBO bicycle cooperative. As an Indigenous Activist, Jheri has spent time responding to calls to action in Standing Rock, Flint Michigan, D.C., and many other places, and was instrumental in the abolishment of Columbus Day and creation of Indigenous Peoples Day in the City of Cincinnati.

He is a member of the Anti Racist Coalition in Cincinnati, working with organizations such as Mass Action for Black Liberation, Ohio Justice and Policy Center, and Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center. Jheri volunteers as the Acting(visiting) N.A. Chaplin for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and has done work with equaSion in Cincinnati on the Religion and Interfaith and Social Action Advocacy Subcommittees, and the Kentucky for the Commonwealth Racial Justice Committee.

Jheri is currently the Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and has been sober for eight years. 

Priya Nanjappa

Priya Nanjappa is the Vice President of Conservation Programs for the National Parks Conservation Association. She has spent over 20 years in the world of conservation science and policy following her Master’s Degree in biology with an emphasis in wildlife ecology and conservation. Her experience ranges from federal and state government to nonprofit management, most recently having served as a commissioner specializing in Wildlife, Environment, and Reclamation for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, appointed by Governor Polis. Priya’s work has involved coordination between various agencies and partners, implementing conservation policies and guidance nationally and internationally.  

Priya was the 2019 recipient of the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) Visionary Leader Award—the first woman and second person of color to receive this award.  

She recently served as a mentor in the inaugural cohort of Next100 Colorado, designed to help connect Colorado’s emerging and seasoned leaders of color through a series of partnerships, network formation, and leadership building. She is currently a co-lead of the Public Lands Working Group for the America The Beautiful For All Coalition, whose aim is to reflect the diversity of America and center the voices of people of color working to conserve 30 percent of our public lands, waters, and oceans by 2030. 

She also really loves toads—you can find her on Twitter at the handle @ToadallyPriya. 

Nicole Jackson

Nicole Jackson (she/her) is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. Nicole graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental education. A nature enthusiast, park advocate, and birder, she loves spending time outside and has a passion for getting people from underserved communities connected to the wonders of the natural world. Nicole currently works as a coach and environmental education consultant assisting in creating programs that educate youth and families on how to build a healthy relationship with nature. She is also board member of the Columbus Audubon and the founder of Black in National Parks Week. 

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