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The 34th Headwaters Conference – Hunting for Humanity: How Hunting & Fishing Can Connect us to the Land and Each Other

The 34th Headwaters Conference

Hunting for Humanity: How Hunting & Fishing Can Connect us to the Land and Each Other

Clark Family School of Environment & Sustainability Presents

The 34th Headwaters Conference – Hunting for Humanity: How Hunting & Fishing Can Connect us to the Land and Each Other

November 10-11, 2023

Across the world, hunting and fishing connects humans to their cultures, communities, and land. Because these practices link us to the ecosystems and cultures that support our lives, they have the capacity to teach us how to live more responsibly.  With this objective in mind, this year’s Headwaters Conferences celebrates the diversity within the hunting and fishing worlds, and examines how hunting and fishing provide a unique pathway to environmental stewardship.

Erica Nelson flyfishing


Friday, November 10, Keynote Address:

Keynote: Erica Nelson
Navigating Waterways: Eddies and Turbulence Toward Justice and Inclusion

Watch Erica’s Keynote Presentation here.

Erica Nelson (she/her) is based in ancestral Ute Territory currently known as Crested Butte, CO. Erica is currently a fly fishing guide in the Gunnison Valley and has over 10 years of outdoor guiding and instructing: whitewater, skiing, rock climbing, backpacking, hiking and snowshoeing courses and workshops. She has served as co-chair for the Access and Inclusion Gap Year Association Committee and is a Board Co-Chair for Women’s Wilderness and former Board member for High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA). She is an avid whitewater boater, a NOLS instructor, and ambassador for Brown Folks Fishing (BFF), which cultivates community for people of color in fishing and its industry through a lens of equity, justice, and inclusion. Erica’s work in the fly fishing industry has been featured in podcasts and articles such as The New York Times, Field & Stream, and Outdoor Business Journal. In her spare time, Erica hosts the Awkward Angler Podcast, an authentic series on social justice, fly fishing, and storytelling with folks in the outdoor industry.

Learn more about the Headwaters Keynote speaker, Erica Nelson, here.


Saturday, November 11, Full Conference Day:

From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. the Headwaters Conference will explore issues of ethics and inclusivity in the hunting and fishing worlds.

10-10:30AM – Welcome & Introduction – View video here

10:30-Noon – Making Hunting for Everyone Panel, with Jimmy Flatt (Co-founder and COO of Hunters of Color), Anna Coburn (Host & producer of Wildish), Joshua Torrez (Founder of Afuera), and Vicki Vargas-Madrid (Denver Director, Colorado Wildlife Federation) – View panel video here.

Noon to 1PM – Lunch Break – Please enjoy lunch on your own

1-2:30PM – The Ethics of Violence, with Brian Bernhardt – View video here.

2:30-2:45PM – Break

2:45-3:15PM – Hunting & Food Security – How to Spread the Harvest – View video here.

3:15-4PM – Student & Professional Opportunities in the World of Hunting – View video here.


About Western Colorado University

Western Colorado University sits centrally in what could be called “the Headwaters Region of the Southwest”: a mountain-and-valley region of wonderful but difficult geographic and climatic diversity, and also of cultural diversity. Western’s “Headwaters Project” is part of the university’s effort to serve the mountain valleys of this region as a resource and rallying-point, as the region’s communities attempt to both retain unique cultural identities and still thrive in a globalizing and homogenizing world. The Project reaches out into the region interactively through the annual Headwaters Conference every autumn.

Learn More

Questions about the 34th Headwaters Conference? Please email conference organizers Dr. Salif Mahamane smahamane@western.edu or Dr. Kate Clark kclark@western.edu.

Video recordings from the 2022 conference are now available! Click here to watch.

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