NPSNM 2018 State Conference

Plants, People and Culture of the Gila

Thursday, September 6 to Sunday, September 9

Western New Mexico University, Silver City, NM

The Gila Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico is delighted to welcome you to the 2018 annual state conference, to be held on the campus of Western New Mexico University. Members of the Gila chapter enjoy this beautiful area because of the exceptional diversity of its landscapes, its flora and fauna, and its people. We invite you to join us at the conference and explore both the plant community and the human communities, past and present, that make this a unique place.

Gila River

Surrounded by 3.3 million acres of national forest, including three wilderness areas, Silver City is the perfect base for hiking and botanizing. We are offering a wide variety of field trips to give you the opportunity to do just that. But, as we know, even in wilderness areas people have been interacting with the natural environment here for millennia, and that includes the ancient Mimbres, the Apaches, and all the inhabitants up to the present time. In keeping with our theme, “Plants, People, and Culture of the Gila,” we have also decided to provide opportunities to explore some of those interactions in our presentations, field trips, and workshops.

For our first keynote speaker, we are very fortunate to have Sharman Apt Russell, the author of the award-winning Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World. Revolution, renaissance, and transformation: these are the words Sharman Apt Russell uses to describe the new world of citizen science, a world in which hundreds of thousands of volunteers are following their bliss documenting the phenology of native plants, tracking bird migrations, collecting water samples, and cataloging galaxies. She will explore the changing role of the citizen scientist, with an emphasis on projects that involve native plants in the Southwest. As Sharman says, “This is science, and this is love, and I have always believed they are the same thing.”

Nathan Newcomer will give us a fine example of citizen science in action. For the past four years, Nathan and a team of dedicated volunteers have been on the ground conducting inventories of lands and waters in the Gila National Forest that they believe qualify for wilderness designation.

Mountain Mahogany

Richard Felger, noted botanist, and his collaborators are growing and demonstrating that native perennial grains and tree crops can constitute viable crops in the modern era. As Richard explains, “The Desert is food, the River is food, the Mountains are food—more than 250 species of edible plants. Let’s look at the staples from the past, the present, and the future for local gardens to sustainable agriculture, a model for the World.”

Opening our Saturday afternoon presentations, Olivia Messinger Carril, co-author of The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees, will help us understand the relationship between plants, bees, and people. As she explains in her book, “A first step in helping our tiny pollinators is understanding them. When we are armed with information, a good rallying cry, and the support of the many, bees stand every chance of being welcome, beneficial and integral parts of our neighborhoods.”

For our banquet speaker, we are delighted that we have been able to lure Jack L. Carter, professor emeritus of Colorado College, back to the Gila region he spent many years exploring and defending. As NPSNM members know, the Jack and Martha Carter Conservation Fund is named after those two tireless supporters of conservation. Jack Carter once said, “The larger society does not understand the connection between plants, people, and all life on earth, and they are not being reached.”

Our program features speaker presentations Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, with workshops and field trips offered on Friday afternoon and Saturday and Sunday mornings. A reception will be held early Friday evening at the Gomez Peak picnic area in the national forest five miles up Little Walnut Road. If we are lucky with the summer rains, there may be post-monsoon wildflowers and, incidentally, some good birding nearby. Lunch will be provided on Friday and Saturday in the cafeteria in the Student Memorial Building on the WNMU campus. The Saturday night banquet will also be held in the cafeteria. (When you register, we will provide you with a map of the campus.) Reception, lunches, and the banquet are all included in the registration fee. 

Registration Fees

Registration Date

NPSNM Member


Before August 1



During August



After September 1 (no meals included)




As you register you will notice an option to donate $5 towards a student or intern scholarship opportunity.  Part of the NPSNM mission is to support research and education efforts as they relate to native plant populations.  In an effort to engage students and interns who are working directly with native plants, we are offering scholarships to attend the conference and share what they have been working on with us! Your $5 donation goes completely and directly towards a student or intern being able to attend this conference at a free or reduced rate.  Thank you for your donation!



NOTE: The following Field Trips and Workshops are full and have been removed from the registration: Field Trips 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 25 and Workshop C.

Conference Location 

Registration and presentations will take place in the Besse-Forward Global Resource Center at 12th and Kentucky Streets on the Western New Mexico University campus. Coming from route 90, turn west onto 12th Street and continue up to the WNMU campus. Coming from route 180, turn south onto Alabama Street and right onto 12th. Plenty of parking is available to the left on Kentucky Street on either side of the Fine Arts Center Theatre. For other events we will provide maps and/or directions when you register.

Conference Program

Field Trips and Workshops: Directions and meet-up locations will be in your registration packet. Fee for Field Trips 7 and 13 will be paid on-site (cash or check only). Remember to wear appropriate shoes and a hat and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks, and hiking poles where needed—and don’t forget your hand lens. Driving distances given are one-way. Carpooling is encouraged; on longer drives you may be asked to contribute a couple of dollars to your driver for gas.

Click HERE to see the complete program.

Snail Mail Registration Form

Please send a separate form for each attendee.  Look at NOTE above to see what Field Trips and Workshops are full.

Click HERE for the Conference Registration Form.

Silent Auction

A silent auction has become a traditional highlight of each year’s NPSNM state conference. The Gila chapter invites you to donate items that might be of interest to other members. To offer an item, please contact Curtis Shimp: clshimp "at"


For a list of available accommodations click HERE.