By Grace Suh

One week out from Plan It Native 2024, which was held February 15-16 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center and the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center in Kansas City, and we are delighted by the rave responses still arriving via text, email and social media.

Like the Missouri Department of Conservation employee who reported her excitement at getting the exact prairie burning and tree knowledge she needs to inform her projects this spring.

The university grounds crew that has already begun making landscaping choices to improve bird habitat on their large campus.

And the long-time garden society president who bolted out of Friday’s Desiree Narango-Heather Holm-Desiree Narango one-two-three combo with this declaration: “That’s it. I’m a convert!”

Plan It Native 2024 was our first conference in person since the inaugural in 2019, and what a difference it made to meet live and in-person. Again and again people used the word “energy” — as in “What a great energy” and “This is so energizing!” That energy was you, our 264 attendees who surged in 7:30am Thursday with open hearts and minds, eager to learn, meet, share, and encourage each other.

And over two days, six concurrent sessions, and three keynotes, the energy grew even stronger. Sessions overflowed, hallways buzzed, Exhibit Hall tables were thronged. People lined the backs of crowded rooms, taking notes and photographing slides. They picked up speaker books, native garden signs, and native nursery catalogs by the hundreds. They exchanged contact info and podcast recommendations with new friends and old colleagues.

Our attendees came from municipal, county and state departments; plant nurseries and landscape companies; wildlife trusts and community organizations. They were Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists; landscape architects and garden designers; teachers, librarians, committee members, volunteers, home gardeners, and ordinary citizens who want to make a difference for wildlife habitat, climate resilience, and the well-being of their communities.

We are so grateful to our attendees for joining us at Plan It Native 2024, for the energy you brought and the energy you carry into the world. We hope you left renewed and inspired by the power of native plants to restore our natural environment for all who share it with us.

* Please keep in touch: send news of gardens or other projects inspired by PIN2024 or tag us on social media #DeepRootsKC @DeepRootsKC. Thank you!