iDigBio Retreat 2013: Incorporating Insights and Ideas for the Future

Thu, 05/16/2013 - 4:48pm -- dpaul

Title: iDigBio Retreat 2013: Incorporating Insights and Ideas for the Future
Setting: Tall Timbers Research Station "in the barn" just north of Tallahassee
At the Helm: iDigBio's Project Manager, David Jennings
Members of the crew: iDigBio Staff

team at retreat

On May 6th and 7th, 2013, in a barn 3 hours from the home of iDigBio at University of Florida in Gainesville, the entire staff of iDigBio from UF and Florida State University gathered at Tall Timbers Research Station just north of Tallahassee for a two day retreat. Getting together at one time and in one place to work together was a rare opportunity everyone appreciated. We shared stories, celebrated almost two years of our project, and worked on our strategic plan.

After nearly two years of work on this multi-year project and an informative site visit in early April from a National Science Foundation (NSF) review team, the iDigBio staff had lots of information and accomplishments to share, insights to offer, and ideas to work on in the future.

Staying on course means frequent and effective communication is key, and in that spirit our retreat began with a recap of how far we've come in two short, extremely fast, but productive years. 

Soon, we'll be hiring additional staff - mostly to enhance our IT team - and increasing our education and outreach efforts with the development of modules for use in the broader community. These E and O efforts will include compiling available materials from workers and researchers to provide a set of community resources. As part of our current and on-going efforts to increase awareness about the project and begin this education outreach campaign in earnest, we've created a pamphlet as well as an engaging iDigBio introductory video to explain the breadth and scope of our initiative to a general audience.

As recommended by the NSF site visit team, we also discussed ways to improve our web presence. Traub, Spinks, and McCaffrey are taking up the challenge of creating a long-term vision and design for our web-based products.

iDigBio workshops are proving quite popular: David reported that we had seen at least 350 unique participants from 181 unique institutions in our workshops so far. We reviewed the demographics of the workshop participants, and discussed the NSF site visit team's finding that we need to increase the number of participants from under-represented groups.

We discussed planned workshops including:

  • 3 Symposia at Botany 2013
  • Georeferencing Train-the-Trainers #2 (now full, but you may attend remotely)
  • Specify Workshop – from how to install, to getting your data into the database
  • Arthropod Digitization in Ann Arbor
  • Paleontology Digitization in New Haven
  • Symposium on eCollaboration and Sustainability at TDWG 2013
  • iDigBio Summit III – in Tallahassee at FSU this time around!

On day two, we headed for Wakulla Springs State Park just south of Tallahassee to enjoy nature in a pristine setting.

Larry Page, Gil Nelson discussing bird sightings

Larry and Gil discussing a bird sighting.


David Jennings and Kevin Love enjoying the surroundings

David and Kevin enjoying the natural surroundings and watching the manatees frolicking in the swimming area of the Springs.

We had a sublime boat tour of one of Florida's best-preserved areas and the wildlife did come out to greet us, including manatees, alligators, lots of birds (the Wakulla River is known for its diversity of herons) and even a snake on the boat dock! 

alligator on the shore at Wakulla Springs