Public Release: 

OU welcomes environmental journalists to Oklahoma

One of the most ecologically-diverse states in nation

University of Oklahoma

Nearly 500 journalists, scientists, government officials, representatives of business and industry from around the world will explore Oklahoma's ecologically-diverse landscape during the 25th Society of Environmental Journalists annual meeting in Norman, October 7 through 11, 2015.

The University of Oklahoma will serve as hosts for the conference, "Weather, Water and Energy: News in Every Neighborhood," which will lead journalists to numerous environmental sites around the state, locally and on the OU Norman campus. Oklahoma's 38 federally recognized tribes play an important role in telling the state story, so environmental topics affecting the tribes are told throughout the conference.

"Taking care of the environment is a position each and every one of us holds, and we look forward to serving as hosts for this prestigious group, participating in the sessions and sharing this wisdom with our community," said Berrien Moore, director of the National Weather Center and dean of the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences.

"Readers, viewers and listeners around the world will benefit from the experience journalists will gain from this conference," said Society of Environmental Journalist President Jeff Burnside, with KOMO-TV, Seattle. "They'll learn so much from Berrien Moore and others on OU's remarkable faculty, tours of the National Weather Center and more--scores of speakers, workshops, tours, exhibits and connections coming together through the conference. I'm thrilled that reporters from 40 states, 8 countries and more than a dozen tribes will take home full notebooks and photo files. People can follow the conference and SEJ's work on Twitter at #SEJ15 and by 'liking' the Facebook page at Society of Environmental Journalists."

Day tours will take journalists to environmental sites in Oklahoma where they will see firsthand how scientists are cleaning up the Tar Creek Superfund site, preserving the Tallgrass Prairie, addressing the impacts of drought in the Altus area, and maintaining the delicate water balance in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer--the source of water for millions who visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The unique relationship between the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the state over land and water matters combine for a tour to the Chickasaw Culture Center in Sulphur.

Journalists will visit the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and others will explore topics related to the oil and gas industry. Tours will include the National Weather Center and the Radar Innovations Laboratory, both known for life-saving, cutting-edge research, faster and improved radar and up-to-date forecasts, delivered to millions from Norman.

The SEJ technical program begins Friday with the morning plenary session on "Climate Change and Extreme Weather: Planning for an Uncertain Future." Kelvin Droegemeier, OU Vice President for Research on the Norman campus and Regents' Professor of Meteorology, will introduce the plenary session speakers, including Moore; Kathryn Sullivan, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona and Kathleen Tierney, University of Colorado.

Sessions take place throughout the day on topics that range from climate change to weather, water and energy, and Native American diversity and law. The Saturday plenary session on energy will include speakers Denise Bode, Cornerstone Government Affairs, representatives from the American Petroleum Institute.

Saturday afternoon, participants can take half-day tours to view the Galileo project on OU's Norman campus, Bergey Wind Power in Norman, the city of Moore and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. There will be numerous other short tours to sites of interest. Saturday evening, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History opens its doors for dinner and a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's research activities. The conference wraps up on Sunday morning with a tour of the National Weather Center and an author's brunch.

People can review the full agenda and register online at http://www.sej.org. The Society for Environmental Journalists offers member rates to all journalists interested in attending the conference, and walk-ins will be welcomed on site.

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