Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Alumni Distinguished Professor, Provost’s Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology, Clemson University

Coloring the Conservation Conversation: What Ornithology Teaches Us About Identity through History, Science, and Literature

Monday, 9 August, 12:00 p.m. (EDT)

keynote speaker dr j drew lanham

J. Drew Lanham, Ph.D., is a native of Edgefield, South Carolina, and a product of family farm, abundant wildness and bittersweet legacy of land interdependence by chain and choice. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor, Provost’s Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University. Dr. Lanham is a cultural and conservation ornithologist whose work addresses the confluence of race, place and nature. He is the Poet Laureate of his home county and the author of Sparrow Envy – Poems (Holocene 2016, Hub City 2018), Sparrow Envy – A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts (Hub City 2021), and The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016/Tantor Audio 2018). The memoir is a winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award (Southern Environmental Law Center), the Southern Book Prize and a 2017 finalist for the Burroughs Medal. It was recognized as a memoir and scholarly book of the decade (2010–20) by Literary Hub & The Chronicle of Higher Education, respectively, and has been a common read for universities, colleges, and other organizations. Drew’s creative work and opinion appears in Orion Magazine, Vanity Fair, Oxford American, High Country News, Bitter Southerner, Emergence, Cutthroat, Flycatcher, Terrain, Places Journal, Literary Hub, Newsweek, Slate, on NPR, Story Corps, Threshold Podcast, Audubon, Sierra Magazine, The New York Times, This is Love with Krista Tippet and On Being Podcasts, among others. He is a contributor to myriad anthologies including The Colors of Nature, Bartram’s Living Legacy, Carolina Writers at Home, Gather at the River – Twenty-Five Authors on Fishing, and several others. His remarks inform art of endangered species and little-known spaces to illuminate the importance of ethnic prism in seeing nature. Drew has taught writing at several workshops including Imagination in the Ruins (Wofford College), Breadloaf (Environmental), Orion (online), Moravian College, Northwood Writer’s Conference (2021) and Chico (pandemic rescheduled to 2021).

Dr. Lanham is known widely as a conservation and environmental advocate and has served on national boards including the National Audubon Society, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, Birdnote, and the American Birding Association. He was past board chair of the Audubon South Carolina Advisory Board and State Affiliate Representative for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, where he conceived, designed and implemented “Palmetto Pro Birders,” one of the first state-driven, non-governmental conservation-run community science/bird conservation efforts in the U.S. For his service over the past thirty years, Drew has been awarded the Dan W. Lufkin Conservation Award (National Audubon Society), the Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award (North American Association for Environmental Education), and the E.O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Science in Biodiversity Conservation (Center for Biological Diversity). He’s a past winner of Regional Emmys for his public radio birding broadcasts and most recently named as the Roland P. Alston Awardee for outstanding outreach communication at Clemson University. The South Carolina Land Conservancy Upstate Forever, recognized him as its Tommy Wyche Land Conservation Champion, citing his “…decades of teaching, research, and writing that have made the field of conservation more accessible and inclusive.” Drew is currently a Contributing Editor for Orion Magazine, a wide-ranging public speaker, a lifelong bird watcher/adorer and a hunter/conservationist, who writes on the eco-pyscho-social edges where the richness of wildness and identity converge. His forthcoming book (2022–23) from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Range Maps – Birds, Blackness and Loving Nature Between the Two, is the work that he hopes will breathe being into his desire to make birds “who’s” as much as “what’s,” and his writing to become the definitive “feel guide” for blending culture and conservation. Drew resides in Seneca, South Carolina, a soaring broad-winged hawk’s downhill glide from the foot of the Southern Appalachian escarpment the Cherokee once called the “Blue Wall.”

Special thanks to our conference supporters