Well, after a year of conceptualizing and another year of planning our big meeting is nearly here. Today was a busy day of final arrangements and greeting some of the first-arriving participants. We were thrilled to wake up this morning to find that two of our facilitators had arrived: Our good friends Onnie Byers and Kathy Traylor-Holzer from the IUCN Conservation Breeding Specialist Group. These two intrepid women travel the world facilitating similar meetings and
have a great approach for fostering a team atmosphere to achieve a meeting’s goals. I was lucky enough to be a participant in a prior planning meeting with them and was very impressed with their strategy. Arriving tonight to complete the facilitation team will be Christine Breitenmoser from the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. We are so happy that these three conservation professionals will be at the helm of the Summit.
The Amazing Onnie in action!
First thing this morning we met with Damrong Sripraram, the Dean of Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Forestry to go over the Summit agenda and related details. He will be on hand to give opening remarks tomorrow. It’s great to see the faculty’s interest in the meeting and to hear their plans for future small felid research in Thailand. We were also hosted by the Director General of the Department of National Parks, Mr. Chatchawan Pitdamkham. He was very interested in hearing the details of the meeting and stressed his goal of doing whatever he can to protect Thailand’s wildlife. We also anticipate his appearance at our opening or closing ceremony and the participation of some of his staff members.
In between meetings we collated maps and data sheets, stuffed participant gift bags, reviewed the budget, revised the press release, and attended to numerous other small details. Our organizing work has been made extremely easy due to the work of our primary Kasetsart University liaison, Nat. Nat is attending to all the details of participant lodging, registration, transportation, and running all manner of errands. He is a lifesaver! I’ll post a photo of him tomorrow.
We did get a quick break for lunch and enjoyed a great meal of chicken and rice in the open air student cafeteria – a heaping plateful for under $1! It’s nice to have gotten away from the tourist areas to enjoy real Thai prices. The last two nights we ate at a great restaurant with entrees for about $4. The same type of food (but not as good!) was $10 in the tourist area of Bangkok. Sadly, I haven’t had sticky rice in two days. This is an untenable situation and something that needs prompt attention! I better get to work…