NEMO University, or NEMO U, is the national conference of the NEMO Network Held every 18 months (or so), the focus of the conference is on providing opportunities for NEMO program leaders, partners, funders and NEMO friends to network with one another, share successful approaches and learn about new technologies and techniques.
The National NEMO Network held the 8th NEMO University (a.k.a NEMO U8) conference in Duluth, MN in October 2012. The conference brings together outreach professionals from around the country, primarily from programs modelled after the CT NEMO program, to share innovative approaches and ideas to working with communities on land use and water quality.
NEMO U8 included participants from 18 states. The conference featured presentations from around the network, keynote talks from nationally renowned experts in LID and water quality outreach, seven different training sessions, a reception in a fresh water aquarium, and a train ride along Lake Superior.
Some of the new innovations highlighted at the conference were CLEAR's LID Atlas and the Rain Garden App; an interactive, group mapping tool built using a Wii remote; and a watersheds board game.
The conference once again proved that no matter how much social networking or other electronic interactions we have, nothing measures up to a well-planned, face-to-face networking conference.
Comments from U8 attendees:
"NEMO U and the NEMO Network is without a doubt the best and most effective opportunity for those involved in non-ag water quality to get re-energized in moving forward in implementation of our programs. We all face challenges and it is very good to hear what is working or not working for others."
"NEMO U's are well known for their ingenious combination of new information, networking and hilarious good times. The creativity and thought that goes into the development of these conferences is apparent, and knowing the work that must accompany pulling off such and event, I am grateful to all the Network staff and partners who dedicated their time. Great work all!"
"The conference reflected the dedication, skill and wit of the planners, the information gained and the networking opportunities were wonderful. Thank you!"
"It is great to be around professionals that really know their stuff but are comfortable enough with themselves to let their hair down and create a congenial and creative atmosphere for sharing and inspiring our work."
"It gave me the will to go on…."
The National NEMO Network held its seventh conference, NEMO University 7 (U 007), in Portland, ME September 29-October 1, 2010. The National NEMO Network is a confederation of 30 educational programs across the country that educate local officials about the connection between land use and water quality. Each of these programs is modeled after the original NEMO program at the University of Connecticut Center for Land Use education and Research (CLEAR), which serves as the coordinating "hub" of the Network and organizer of the NEMO University conferences.
A Network of Networks
Despite travel bans and tough economic times, the conference was very well attended with over 100 registrants from 24 states. Demonstrating the multi-disciplinary interest and participation in the NEMO Network, attendees represented many diverse organizations and national networks. The two primary leaders of NEMO programs, Sea Grant and Extension, both piggy-backed additional meetings on the conference.
Varied Conference Sessions
The agenda was almost as diverse as the participants, featuring a balance of plenary sessions, concurrent sessions from programs around the country, field trips, workshops, and networking events. Highlights of the conference included:
A plenary focused on climate change that explored how climate change adaptation and planning can fit into the NEMO approach of working with local land use officials, with examples of early adopters;
Four field trips – a smart growth and Low Impact Development (LID) walking tour of Portland; a trip to the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center; a tour of the Long Creek urban LID retrofit project; and a conservation walk at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR);
A symposium/keynote on hybrid approaches to local planning and design by Randall Arendt, a nationally acclaimed expert in innovative community design and conservation planning;
A 3-hour networking boat tour of Casco Bay;
A plenary focused on urban stormwater retrofits that featured the Long Creek Project and the first impervious cover TMDL project in the country, currently the subject of a project led by the CT NEMO Program;
20 presentations from around the country on innovative outreach strategies, technical tools, and land use/water quality programs; and
- A lobster-bake networking event.
Photo Galleries from U7
The National NEMO Network held its sixth conference (NEMO U6) on California’s Monterey Peninsula in October 2008. U6 was the first NEMO University held west of Charleston, SC. Ironically given the Route 66 theme to the conference, 66 NEMO educators and partners attended the conference representing 22 states. The conference agenda once again featured a mix of presentations, training sessions, and networking events. For the first time, presentation abstracts were solicited from the Network and provided an opportunity for NEMO programs to show off their latest tools and resources.
A broad range of exciting topics were covered from the Stormulator Tool (which helps to integrate LID into site design) to impervious cover based TMDLs to habitat-based planning to clicker/audience response system technology. Trainings included a session on using a variety of techniques and programs (most of which are free) to put maps and data on the web. A hands-on learning lab followed the session where folks had an opportunity to use some of the tools and create their very own Mashups (combining two or more programs/tools to make a third). There was also a condensed version of the Network’s Forest Resource Education for Municipal Officials (FREMO) training and a plenary session on NEMOnomics or integrating economics into NEMO education.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a NEMO U without great opportunities for networking among peers. We took full advantage of our location on Monterey Bay with an early morning kayaking trip, a whale watching trip (including a sighting of an Orca pod), and a beach side bonfire and barbeque. The crown jewel of the Networking events was a dessert reception at the world-renowned Monterey bay Aquarium. In all, the conference fulfilled its goal of strengthening the bonds that hold our network together.