Dear Fellow MSAPMS Members,

Let me start off by wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous 2020! As I write this message, I canít help but reflect on the previous year and think toward the future.

I hope you all enjoyed our 38th annual conference, held this past November in historic Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We had one of the best turnouts in years with 92 members in attendance!

Our program kicked off on the morning of November 5th, with an aquatic plant management workshop which featured everything from control strategies to boating safety. The afternoon featured a special session geared toward public relations in aquatic plant management with emphasis on better communication, both in person and in an evolving and often chaotic social media space. A big thank you to our speakers from the front lines of conflict who gave us such valuable insight into what is quickly becoming a pivotal part of our industry.

Over the next two days, the program would feature speakers from across the midsouth region, sharing success stories and lessons learned in managing species like giant salvinia, Cuban bulrush, and other familiar characters to the midsouth region. One of the high notes of our conference were the six student presentations and one poster presentation highlighting ongoing research from universities across the mid-south region.

As a change in format, the conference also featured its first awards luncheon before wrapping up on the evening of November 6th. Congratulations to William Prevost of Louisiana State University, who took home the MSAPMS Student Scholarship. The MSAPMS also welcomed Carl Della Torre of Orion Solutions and Daniel Hill of Louisiana Parks and Wildlife to the Board of Directors.

Finally, a BIG thank you to our 18 sponsors who helped raise nearly $30K for the Society this year! We simply could not do what we do without your continued support of MSAPMS.

With 2019 in the rear-view mirror, itís time to start focusing on the impact we will have as a Society in 2020. Our science and industry continue to be shaped and molded by public opinion, which is often shrouded in misinformation and misguided emotion. The lack of desire to communicate most any science to the public has created major problems for the science community, and aquatic plant management is no exception. As many are aware, it is difficult to generate support from the public and government if our audience does not understand the relevance of what we do. We must not let this go overlooked or allow ourselves to dismiss questions and concerns, but rather be a guiding force to bridge the gap between the importance of our work and public understanding.

I challenge you in 2020, as individuals, companies, and as members of the Midsouth Aquatic Plant Management Society to take the time to focus on the public. I hope you have already begun using the many public relations tools provided by our wonderful speakers at our 2019 meeting. For those looking for tools, donít be afraid to reach out to members who have or are currently struggling with similar issues. I ask you to meet public concern with a smile, engage them proactively and frequently, and be a resource and advocate for sound science and information. We must continue to establish ourselves as a trusted source of information - our science and the vital resources that we protect certainly depend on it.

We as an organization of scientists, educators, students, resource managers, and industry are here to serve as an accredited resource to the public and to each other. If there is any way that we can help our members, including in the public relations space, please donít hesitate to reach out.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcement regarding or 2020 meeting, the be held in beautiful Mobile, Alabama at the Battle House Hotel & Spa October 26th-29th. Please visit the Annual Conference section of our website for more information.

I look forward to serving the MSAPMS as your president in 2020.

All the very best,
Brett Hartis

MidSouth Aquatic Plant Management Society ©