President Scott McIntosh shared, "Ski with the Board of Directors was a great way to get out on the slopes and meet members in a fun and relaxed setting. Some people were in costumes, some did beginner runs, some did more advanced. Everyone had a great time!"
Although the value in WMS membership extends far beyond conferences, reconnecting with old friends and building new relationships is one of the benefits of meeting in-person through formal and informal gatherings. One member shared with us that he was sitting around talking with two others he had just met, and by the end of their conversation, the three of them decided to go to Nepal together in the fall. Other unique gatherings at the conference included the Environmental Council meeting (under the extraordinary leadership of newly appointed chair Carolyn Meyer), and the first ever Women in Wilderness Medicine Committee meeting. Sarah Crockett and Sarah Schlein led a brainstorming session to discuss how the WMS could make sure women are more fairly represented. Their committee is exploring ideas for mentorship, a women's speaker bureau, women-specific scholarship, and a "report card" to track female representation within the WMS. As the meeting began, the group had to add more and more chairs and widen their circle – a physical representation of the belief that there's room for everyone at the table.
The last night of the conference concluded with a keynote address by Clare Gallagher, a Patagonia-sponsored ultramarathon runner and environmental advocate. She shared how she had dreams of becoming a doctor but after a lost battle with organic chemistry, her life plans changed. She ended up winning the Western States 100 last year and was able to use her fame to help get the word out about the importance of taking care of our planet. She acknowledged the many negative health effects from pollution and said, "Medical professionals have the most compelling testimonies of anyone." She urged attendees to join in the fight with advocacy and the power to vote, and shared various resources to get more information such as the podcast Drilled and the New York Times Climate Fwd: newsletter.