Annie Griffiths, National Geographic photographer and co-author of a book celebrating America’s last remaining wild places, will keynote the 15th annual New Jersey Land Conservation Rally on Saturday, March 19, at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, Monmouth County.
The one-day conference, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Warner Student Life Center, is aimed at volunteers and professionals involved in land preservation and parks, as well as students studying environmental sciences.
 
Celebrating its crystal anniversary, the Rally will offer 30 educational workshops and 14 roundtable discussions on topics ranging from preserving farmland to connecting teens to the conservation community, from preserving properties with historic buildings to managing the impacts of browsing deer on the landscape.
 
The all-day conference includes continental breakfast, an exhibit area with displays from more than two dozen businesses and organizations involved in land conservation, admission to all workshops and roundtables, a buffet lunch, speakers, and a late afternoon wine-tasting social.
 
The early-bird registration fee is $80, with the price rising to $95 after March 5. Students are eligible for a discounted rate of $40. For secure online registration, go to www.njconservation.org/rally and follow links to the registration section.
 
“In addition to marking the Rally’s 15th anniversary, we’re thrilled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the state Green Acres program, which has funded parks and recreation facilities in nearly every New Jersey town,” said Laura Szwak, Director of Education and Outreach for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, one of the Rally organizers. Rich Boornazian, administrator of the Green Acres program, will speak at the event.
 
Welcoming remarks will be made by Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry and Michele Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
 
Griffiths, one of the first female photographers to work for the National Geographic Society, co-produced “Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands” with bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver. Proceeds from sales of the book have raised more than $250,000 for land conservation grants. A resident of Virginia, Griffiths will show a sampling of her photography, including scenes from New Jersey.
 
After the workshops and roundtables, participants will enjoy a wine-sampling reception from 4:15 to 5 p.m., with a drawing for outdoor gear donated by REI and Campmor.
 
The New Jersey Land Conservation Rally educates and brings together professionals in the conservation community, college students, elected officials, and members of municipal environmental commissions, open space committees and parks and recreation commissions. Last year’s conference drew over 300 participants.
 
“The Rally provides a great opportunity to network and learn from experts involved in the acquisition and stewardship of parkland, open space, and farmland,” said Byers.
 
A pre-rally field trip, “Caring for the Land: Stewardship in Action” will be held on Friday, March 18, at the 667-acre Thompson Park in Lincroft, adjacent to Brookdale Community College. Led by Ken Thoman, Park Manager of Natural Resources for the Monmouth County Park System, the field trip will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fee is $20; register at www.njconservation.org/rally.
 
To download a Rally brochure with a full list of programs descriptions and a registration form, go to the NJCF website at www.njconservation.org/rally. For more information about Rally programs and sponsorship opportunities, contact Carol Banhart at carol@njconservation.org or 908-234-1225.
 
Brookdale Community College is located at 765 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, Monmouth County, two miles west of Garden State Parkway exit 109. For more maps and directions, go to www.brookdalecc.edu/pages/131.asp .