Wisconsin Lakes Partnership convention explores mind-lake connections

Contact: Eric Olson, Director, UW Extension Lakes, eolson@uwsp.edu 715-346-2192

Science is providing increasing evidence for something that many lake visitors in Wisconsin have long believed—that going to the lake is good for you.

Considering lakes and rivers as part of what researchers call “blue space” in our environment, research shows that people with regular access to water views are happier, healthier and generally better off than those with minimal blue space in their lives.

This year’s Lakes Partnership Convention at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn will take a deep dive into these relationships between people and lakes to highlight the many ways that people can better care for water resources.

The public event, running from April 4 through 6, features a range of speakers discussing this year’s theme, “Minding Our Waters.”

Thursday’s keynote speaker, Wallace J. Nichols, is an international authority on the wide variety of ways that water affects well-being. Nichols summarized most of the recent research in his best-selling 2015 book, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. He will explore the cognitive, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual benefits of healthy waterways and oceans via each of the seven ages of our human lives—from birth through death.

Additional speakers on Thursday will look at ways to design programs and landscapes that maximize the benefits of nature and water on physical and mental health.

Andrew Fusek Peters, an award-winning author of children’s literature and poetry from the United Kingdom, will deliver Friday’s luncheon keynote. Peters recently used his lyrical writing abilities to publish a personal memoir capturing how water, particularly “wild swims,” helped him recover from a serious bout of depression. He has since become a widely published and award-winning nature photographer. His talk will explore how water and nature continue to nurture his spirit.

Convention attendees can choose from more than 40 concurrent sessions on Thursday and Friday.  In-depth half-day workshops on Wednesday and Friday afternoon cover subjects ranging from algae identification, to horticultural therapy and story-telling techniques for science communication.

For the second year, the Lakes Partnership Convention will also include the annual Water Action Volunteers Symposium, a gathering of citizen scientists who monitor Wisconsin’s streams and rivers.

You can find the entire convention agenda on the event’s website.

Walk-ins are welcome for Friday and Saturday morning sessions. Preregistration is required for workshops and tours on Thursday and Saturday. Pricing options depend on days and sessions attended and discounted early registration rates are available for those who sign up by March 15.

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