Join us for our next Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum in 2023!

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On October 6th, 2022, community members and students had an opportunity to listen and engage with conservation experts from around the St. Louis metropolitan area. This event registration maxed out and featured three local, accomplished biologists who discussed interesting and timely topics. The forum took place at our partner institution, the Saint Louis Zoo. With the huge movement toward more natural backyards and outdoor spaces, the focus of this conservation forum was on the importance of creatures and plants many of us spend time and money trying to manage or eliminate. Participants were wowed with presentations that included demonstrations on how insects and arachnids communicate (vibrational communication), rodent behavior, environments, and the positive and negative impacts of human/rodent interaction, in addition to haikus relating to different plants that may be in your backyard, how they're important to the environment, and how humans can and do use them. Maybe those violets and clover in your yard aren't so bad afterall. In addition to having the opportunity to listen to these incredible speakers, learn about their fascinating research, and engage in a lively, fun panel discussion, the Harris Center provided boxed sandwich dinners to participants.

This event was completely free and possible because of the insight of Whitney and Anna Harris, who found value in the Harris Center and creating opportunities for the public and students to have access to different forms of conservation ecology knowledge, alongside our strong partnership with the Saint Louis Zoo.



Our Experts

Dr. Kasey Fowler-Finn

Kasey Fowler-Finn, Ph. D.
Associate Professor - Saint Louis University

Presentation: Discover the extraordinary world of spiders and insects in your own backyard
Dr. Fowler-Finn’s career as an arachnologist started with her very first field guide to Spiders at age 5. She is now an Associate Professor at Saint Louis University leading a lab of arachnologists and entomologists fascinated by the natural world and dedicated to understanding the impacts of human activity. Outside of her laboratory, you can find Kasey rock climbing, hiking, and spending almost every day with her family of four in Tower Grove Park.


Danielle Lee, Ph. D.
Associate Professor - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Presentation: Evaluating and working along environmental gradients to develop frameworks to understand nuisance rodent ecology

Danielle N. Lee is a biologist and outreach scientist who studies the behavioral biology and natural history of nuisance rodents over human-modified environmental gradients. Her research includes examining behavioral variation of field mice in the Metro St. Louis area and the natural history of African giant pouched rats of Tanzania. She is well known for her science promotion and outreach in social media. Her research and science outreach and advocacy have been recognized by The Explorers Club (2021), National Geographic Society (2017 Emerging Explorer), TED Fellows Program (2015), Essence Magazine Woke 100 (2019) EBONY Magazine’s Power 100 (2014) and the White House Champions of Change in STEM Diversity and Access (2014). You can follow her for commentary on science + society and science research adventures on Twitter or Instagram at @DNLee5.

Dr. Nicole Miller Struttmann

Nicole Miller-Struttmann, Ph. D.
Associate Professor - Webster University

Presentation: Weedy Plants and Why We Love Them
Nicole Miller-Struttmann is the Laurance L. Browning Jr. Chair at Webster University. She and her students study plants and their pollinators, with a current focus on urban bees. She runs a citizen science program called Shutterbee and enjoys photographing and collecting bees with her own young family.

Our Previous Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum: October 2021

Last year, the Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum featured a series of speakers who focused on Indigenous Knowledge & Sustainability. This informative and insightful event was made possible through several organizations partnering together across the Saint Louis region. Check out these recordings by clicking the "View Session" links below.




A series of virtual events to advance research and education in indigenous knowledge and sustainability in the region.


To see the recording of each session, click the link "View session." 


Cultural Food Initiatives in the St. Louis Region

          sponsored by Missouri Botanical Garden

Representatives of diverse St. Louis cultural groups speak about their local foodways initiatives. A series of filmed interviews show local innovators sharing the importance of tradition at their sites of significance.   

Celebrate the universality of food!

Date: Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom               

View session - Cultural Food Initiatives in the St. Louis Region


Native Women Changing Policy in Land Stewardship
Pari In Perpetuity: Peeling Back the Layers of Agricultural Policy in a Prayerful Way 

sponsored by the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies at Washington University in Saint Louis


Electa Hare-Redcorn, MSW (Pawnee)
Buder Center Alumna 2009; Ph.D. candidate, University of Arkansas

 Electa will share how Native women are changing policy in land stewardship by acknowledging and implementing just transitions in agricultural development.

Pari in Perpetuity: Peeling Back the Layers of Agricultural Policy in a Prayerful Way
Date: Thursday, October 7, 2021
Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom

View session - Pari In Perpetuity: Peeling Back The Layers Of Agricultural Policy In A Prayerful Way

Please visit the Buder Center's Web Page for more information!

Indigenous Models of Sustainability | The Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center Conservation Forum                                     

sponsored by the Whitney R. Harris Center at the University of Missouri - St. Louis and the Saint Louis Zoo


Each year, the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center organizes and co-sponsors the Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum in partnership with the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Academy of Science St. Louis. The forum provides an opportunity for interaction between conservation organizations and the general public. The forum hosts 3-4 speakers with a panel discussion following. This event is meant to promote learning, discussion, and new viewpoints. 

In October 2021, the Harris World Ecology Center joins with six other regional institutions to sponsor a virtual conference on Indigenous Knowledge & Sustainability.

2021 Harris Center Forum Speakers: Tiffanie Hardbarger, Ph.D., Robin Kimmerer, Ph.D., and Kyle Whyte, Ph.D.


Tiffanie Hardbarger, Ph.D. (Cherokee Nation)
Assistant Professor, Cherokee and Indigenous Studies
Northeastern State University - Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Remembrance: The Roots of Relationship to the Land

In this talk, Dr. Harbarger will share the philosophical roots of the EuroAmerican relationship to land and "sustainability" ethic in the United States using historiography, and how it has shifted in modern times. Examples of specific indigenous models and concepts will be shared as a way to examine how such relationships are remembered from an indigenous viewpoint.

Dr. Hardbarger's Biography



Robin Kimmerer, Ph.D. (Citizen Potawatomi)
SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry - Syracuse, New York

Restoration and Reciprocity: Renewing Relationships with the Land

Sustainability of indigenous cultural landscapes is based on the philosophy and practice of reciprocal relationships between land and people. Conservation of biodiversity remnants alone is insufficient for the urgency of the times. Among the most powerful acts of reciprocity we can undertake, is restoration, healing the damage we have inflicted on land and our more-than-human relatives. However, repairing ecosystem structure and function must be complemented by restoration of reciprocal relationship to land. Synergy between indigenous and scientific knowledges, can guide the process of healing both land and relationship, through biocultural approaches, leading to reciprocal restoration and justice for the land.

Dr. Robin Kimmerer's Biography



Kyle Whyte, Ph.D. (Citizen Potawatomi)
George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Sustainability is a Matter of Kinship

Kinship traditions of ethics are needed more than ever if there will be progress toward sustainability. They are systematic, and demonstrate how norms of consent, reciprocity, trust, and accountability are entwined with ecological understandings of climate change and biodiversity conservation. Kinship is especially important as sustainable solutions, including renewable energy, turn out to pose threats to Indigenous peoples and other groups globally.

Dr. Whyte's Biography                                               

Indigenous Models of Sustainability
Date: Thursday, October 7, 2021
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom
Free of charge, discussion follows.

View session - Harris Conservation Forum: Indigenous Models Of Sustainability


Native Foods, Native PeopleS, Native PollinatorS

sponsored by the Native American Studies Program, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
and the Center for Spirituality & Sustainability at SIUE



Ed Spevak, Ph.D.
Curator of Invertebrates, Saint Louis Zoo
Director, Center for Native Pollinator Conservation

Ed Spevak, Ph.D., of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation will speak about the initiative Native Foods, Native Peoples, Native Pollinators. The initiative focuses on the intersection of wild and cultivated foods, cultural traditions and food sovereignty, the health of environments, and people and nature.

Dr. Spevak's Biography

Native Foods, Native Peoples, Native Pollinators
Date: Friday, October 8, 2021
Time: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom
Free of charge, discussion follows.

View session - Native Foods, Native Peoples, Native Pollinators



sponsored by Missouri Botanical Garden.


Devon A. Mihesuah, PhD, a member of the Choctaw Nation, is Cora Lee Beers Price Professor in International Cultural Understanding at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Mihesuah's Biography



Elizabeth Hoover, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, University of California Berkeley.

Dr. Hoover's Biography                         

Farming, Gardening, and Food Sovereignty in Native American Communities

Mihesuah and Hoover co-edited Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019).

Date: Saturday, October 9, 2021
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom
Free of charge

View session - Farming, Gardening And Food Sovereignty In Native American Communities


Indigenous Foods & Sustainability

sponsored by the Native American Studies Program, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and the Center for Spirituality & Sustainability at SIUe 


Tiffanie Hardbarger, PhD (Cherokee Nation), Assistant Professor of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK.


Elizabeth Hoover, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy &Management at University of California-Berkeley.

Specialists in indigenous food systems, Native sovereignty, and related fields will speak about their research and projects, and their ideas about ways that indigenous perspective and practices can support sustainability in food production and food justice - for Native people and everyone. Dialogue to follow.

Indigenous Foods & Sustainability

Date: Sunday, October 10, 2021
Time: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Format: Virtual - Zoom
Free of charge, discussion follows.

View session - Indigenous Foods & Sustainability



Indigenous Peoples’ Day 

Honoring Indigenous people of our region, nation, and the world.

Mon. October 11

No conference events on Indigenous Peoples Day: Monday, October 11.   


sponsored by the Buder Center for American Indian Studies at Washington University in St. Louis

Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Time: 7:00PM
Format: Live. This event is held outdoors. A self-screening form is required for all visitors of the University.
Free of charge.

Read/listen - Scholars look to Indigenous knowledge and practices in fight against climate change 

Article and audio interview with Dr. Kyle Whyte (Citizen Potawatomi), George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan, and Kellie Thompson, MSW (Seneca), director of the Buder Center for American Indian Studies, Washington University in St. Louis. St. Louis Public Radio (Oct. 4, 2021). 

Read - Harris Conservation Forum highlights Indigenous knowledge and its lessons for sustainability, UMSL Daily (Oct. 11, 2021). 

Read  Free Virtual Conference Highlights Work of Native Scholars, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis (Sept. 13, 2021).  

Read - Indigenous knowledge, sustainability focus of SIUE event, Edwardsville Intelligencer (Sept. 30, 2021). 

Read - Indigenous Knowledge & Sustainability Virtual Conference to Advance Research and Education, SIUE News (Sept. 21, 2021). 

Read - Indigenous Knowledge Conference Emphasizes Climate Change, Native Pollinators and Food, SIUE Alestle (Oct. 12, 2021). 

Sponsored by Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo, the Kathryn M. Buder American Indian Studies Center at Washington University in St. Louis, the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at University of Missouri-St. Louis, the Native American Studies Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the Center for Spirituality & Sustainability at SIUE, and SIUE's College of Arts &Sciences.

    For readings and resources, visit the SIUE site Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability

For information, contact Professor Greg Fields at or call (618)650-3246.