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Let’s get environmental: Eagles for Liberty to co-host conference at FGCU

When Eagles for Liberty president and Students for Liberty campus coordinator, Emily Reynolds, was given the chance to put on a spring conference of any topic, she picked a focus that is dear to both her and FGCU’s mission statement – the environment.

“It seemed perfect for the locality of the campus,” Reynolds said. “It’s an issue I care about because I grew up here.”

The Free Market Environmentalism Conference, which is free to all attendees, is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2 in Sugden Hall room 114.

The spring conference is a first for SFL, which usually only hosts international conferences in the spring. This year, Reynolds said, the organization wanted to give students the opportunity to host single issue conferences.

Reynolds, who also planned an SFL conference at FGCU in fall 2015, said one of the big challenges of this event was finding speakers.

“There’s another free market conference going on it Las Vegas the same day,” Reynolds said. “That was a weird coincidence.”

Reynolds said it was also difficult to find environmentally-focused speakers who are willing to speak for free at the event – SFL does not pay for speaking fees, travel or board.

Three of the speakers live in Florida, but two are traveling from out-of-state to attend the conference.

One of the speakers is Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, which focuses on defending property rights and economic liberties. Bargil will give a lecture on the impact federal food policy has on the environment.

Another speaker, Daniel Peterson, is scheduled to give a talk called “Balancing Property Rights and Everglades Restoration.” Peterson is the director of the Center for Property Rights at Tallahassee’s research and educational organization, the James Madison Institute.

Ronald Bailey, a science writer for Reason magazine, will speak about his work and his book, “The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century.” Bailey is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and in 2004 he testified before a congressional committee about the impact of science on public policy.

Aliese Priddy, an Immokalee native and FGCU alumna, is the vice chairwoman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Priddy is scheduled to talk about private land rights.

The final speaker, Isaac Orr, is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute who specializes in hydraulic fracking and environmental policy. Orr will be speaking about fracking.

Reynolds said the conference is particularly relevant to students interested in the impact of the Lake Okeechobee water releases.

Reynolds said one frustrating thing about planning the conference was protest from a group called “UnKoch My Campus,” which Reynolds said has been putting up fliers in Lutgert Hall and the FGCU Library to slander the conference speakers.

The website of UMC said it is an organization that wants to educate students about the impact that donations from billionaires Charles and David Koch has on which faculty gets hired at universities and what events are held at universities.

Reynolds said that, although Eagles for Liberty has received a minimal amount of funding through the Koch Foundation before, this conference was not funded in any way by the Koch Foundation.

“The motivating force behind this conference is students who care about these issues,” Reynolds said. “The biggest resource that has been spent on this has been the time and energy of student grassroots organizations.”

Despite the protest from UMC, Reynolds is excited to see the conference come together after months of planning.

“Activism means a lot of things, and to me it means education,” Reynolds said.

Attendees should arrive at 10 a.m. to sign-in, and can register either at the door or online at sflfocus.org. The dress code is business casual. Coffee, lunch and pizza from Amore’s will be provided.

About The Author

Nina Barbero

Nina Barbero is a senior majoring in economics, and has been writing for Eagle News since her freshman year and enters her senior year as Eagle News' Managing Editor. When she is not in the newsroom, you can probably find her swimming at the beach, trying to talk her way out of overdue book fines at the library or hoping the Giants win at least one game this season.

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