Summary History of the Society for Conservation GIS 1987-2015

Important SCGIS dates are in red. List is built around the Esri Conference List of Keynote Speakers, but Prior to 1986, Esri did not list keynote speakers.

1986 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Duane Marble, State University of New York, Buffalo
Charles Convis is backpacking across africa providing computer help to local conservation groups

1987 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Roger Tomlinson, originator of modern, computerized GIS
Charles Convis is backpacking in asia and europe providing computer help to local conservation groups

1988 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Robert Aangeebrug, executive director, American Association of Geographers
Charles Convis writes a proposal to create an international conservation computer support foundation
Convis writes the paper “Theory and Practice of National Environmental Information Systems”

1989 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Peter Thacher, assistant secretary general, United Nations
Jack Dangermond offers Convis a position at Esri and agrees to support the creation of a new conservation support organization.
Convis’ first meeting with Dr. Mike Hamilton at the James Reserve to talk about conservation, computers and society

1990 – May 14-18 Keynotes: David Andere, David Rhind, Dr. Kent Smith, Otto Simonette, Nancy Tosta,
Charles Convis presents a paper on “The Case for Small Scale GIS in Developing Countries”

1991 –May 20-24 Esri Keynote: Ralph Nader
Convis creates the “Esri Conservation Program” and writes its charter
First ever Conservation Track at the Esri User Conference, Opened by the Cahuilla Birdsinger Dancers.
First ever conservation program booth
May 19-24,1991, First Gathering of Conservation GIS users at the UC James Reserve, attending the esri conference by day, and gathering around the James campfire by night.

1992 – June 8-12 Esri Keynote: Dr. Paul Ehrlich
Conservation Track grows to 40 papers and includes first ever “Gis in First Nations Track”
Jhon Goes-in-Center, Lakotah, gives the opening address
June 7-12, 1992, Second James Reserve Gathering of Conservation users,
June 9, 1992, First Welcoming Lunch for Conservation,
June 10, First Donors Roundtable Lunch with Sun and HP
June 10, First Conservation Potluck at the James Reserve, Discussion about forming a group
June 11, First Native American Roundtable

1993 – May 24-28 Esri Keynote: Dr. James Burke
May 25, 1993, over 50 people attend the Conservation Users Special Interest Meeting
Conservation GIS Consortium is formed from a coalition of 4 conservation gis organizations
Birth of the CONSGIS Listserver thanks to Dr. Peter August

1994 – May 23-27 Esri Keynote: Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
May 21-22, 1994: First Official Conservation GIS Conference at the UC James Reserve is organized by Charles Convis and Shaw Thacher. A formal organization is started, committees and tasks are begun

1995 – May 22-26, Palm Springs. Esri Keynote: John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard University
May 21, 1995: Conservation GIS meeting at the UC James Reserve
May 23, 1995: 50 people attend the “Conservation GIS Potluck” at the James Reserve.
The Conservation Technology Support Program is begun as a GIS hardware/software granting partnership between Esri, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Apple, Trimble, Erdas & GTCO. The program was administered by a collaboration of conservation groups including Larry Orman/Greeninfo Network, Janice Thomson/Wilderness Society, Steve Beckwitt/Sierra Biodiversity Institute, Peter Morrison/Pacific Biodiversity Institute, Ed Backus/Ecotrust, Marshall Mayer/Desktop Assistance, Charles Convis/Esri Conservation Program, Rose Meier and Doug Muchoney/Smithsonian.
a Tribal Grants program was also begun in collaboration with the Intertribal GIS council, awarding 50 sotware grants to native and first nations groups across the USA and Canada

1996 – May 20-24, Palm Springs, Ca Esri Keynote: Bruce Babbit, Secretary of the Interior
May 19, 1996, Conservation GIS meeting at the UC James Reserve is organized by Sandra Coveny, Kai Snyder, Cheryl Crupi, Roberta Pickert and Charles Convis. Attendees decide to adopt the name “Conservation GIS Alliance” and begins work on a formal alliance conference for 1997, with a formal scholarship program based on airfare funding direct from the airlines.

1997 – July 8-11, 1997 San Diego CA Esri Keynote: Dr. Ian McHarg, Harvard University
July 7, 1997: Conservation GIS Alliance Meeting at the James Reserve is the first to include paper presentations on conservation science and gis methods, with a keynote presentation by environmental attorney Macon Cowles. Attendees agree to adopt the new name “Society for Conservation GIS” and tasks and committees are set up to plan it’s 1998 conference and pursue formal incorporation as a nonprofit society.
SCGIS' first board of directors is elected and a staggered 3-year term is adopted by means of having 1/3d of the original board step down each year until 2000 in order to make room each year for new members, and ensure there is never a large turnover in board membership.The original 1997 board elected, and their original staggered terms, are as follows:
1997-1998 term: Tim Bechtold, Steve Beckwitt, Gillian Bowser, Charles Convis, Peter Morrison, Kai Snyder.
1997-1999 term: Will Allen, Sandra Coveny, Easy, John Mangiameli
1997-2000 term: Leslie Backus, Cheryl Crupi, Michael Hamilton, Roberta Pickert
Gillian Bowser serves as the first president, with Cheryl Crupi as Vice President.

Charles Convis and Bette Loiselle of the Missouri Botanical Garden organize the first scholarship program, with no funding. The program attracted 28 applicants from all over the world and in the end 7 scholars were able to attend via the fee waivers and support that the program offered.
Esri moves its conference to San Diego, so the Esri Conservation Program expands to become the “Conservation Hall” hosting several dozen conservation exhibitors and several new conservation tracks.
The ECP Website,, is officially launched.
July 22, 1997, Tim Bechtold, Law Student and head of the Ecology Center of Missoula, writes the original SCGIS Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation
Aug 1997, Robert Arenz & the Money-Arenz Foundation are the first donors to support SCGIS
Late 1997, Jack Dangermond provides the endowment of $100k that helps make the SCGIS a "real and credible" 501c3.

1998 – July 27-31 San Diego Esri Keynote: Dr. Carl Steinitz, Harvard University and Dr. Hasso Plattner
SCGIS First Annual Meeting July 24-25, Lawler Lodge, California,
SCGIS' board of directors: In May, Gillian steps down as president and VP Cheryl Crupi takes on the duties. In June the board elects Mike Beltz, Sasha Yumakaev, Eric Treml and Peter Morrison to 3-year terms in June. At the August 4, 1998, Board Meeting following the conference, a tied election for presidency between Will Allen and Sandra Coveny results in a co-presidency arrangement for the upcoming year. At that board meeting, new board members appointed to the board are Kai Snyder, Gillian Bowser and Christina Casado, and new SCGIS officers are elected as follows: Roberta Pickert is Treasurer, John Mangiamelli as Secretary, Christina Casado as Vice President.
Bob Arenz of the Money-Arenz foundation donates $2k to support the international scholarship program.
July 1998: The first issue of the “Society for Conservation GIS” magazine, Vol 1, no. 1
It includes profiles of our first funded international scholars: Lucy Chege, Salman Ashraf, Dagmar Scholle, David Woods, Olga Lucia Hernandez, Mathias Benhangana
It also includes the first status reports from the first SCGIS Committees including Cultural Diversity, Membership, Standards & Training, Local Chapters, and International.
At that time the SCGIS had about 100 members in 3 countries and 23 states

1999 – July 26-30 San Diego DEsri Keynote: Sylvia Earle, oceanographer
SCGIS Second Annual Meeting, July 24-25, Idyllwild, CA

2000 – June 26-30 San Diego Esri Keynote: Dr. Charles Groat, director of USGS
SCGIS Third Annual Meeting, June 24-25, Casa Del Zorro, Anza Borrego, CA

2001 – July 9-13 San Diego Esri Keynote: Michael Fay, National Geographic Society Explorer
SCGIS 4th Annual Meeting, July 6-8, Casa Del Zorro, Anza Borrego, CA

2002 – JULY 8-12 San Diego Esri Keynote: Cynthia Moss, conservationist and wildlife researcher
SCGIS Conference 5th Annual Conference, July 5-7, Casa Del Zorro, Anza Borrego CA

2003 – JULY 7-11 San Diego Esri Keynote: Peter Hillary, adventurer and Mt. Everest climber,
SCGIS Conference 6th Annual: July 3-5, Asilomar

2004 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Rita Colwell, president, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Scholarship Program 1: Training July 26 - August 6 at James Reserve and Esri Learning Center, then to ESRI UC, August 9-13
SCGIS Conference: Sept 27-29 2004 in Sheperdstown, West Virginia,
with Int’l Scholarship Program 2 at Lions Club Camp, Wash DC, Sept 13-24 and Advanced Training in DC Sept 30-Oct8

2005 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Jane Goodall, anthropologist and chimpanzee researcher
SCGIS Conference: July 31-Aug 2, Asilomar
First year of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding for the Scholars Program
Scholars Training July 11-22 at James Reserve and University of Redlands

2006 – Aug 7-11, 2006 Esri Keynote: Bob Kerrey, former Democratic governor
SCGIS Conference: #8 with SCB, June 24-28, 2006 San Jose
Second year of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding for the Scholars Program, allowing it to expand to 70 scholars and 8 trainers.
Scholars Program 1, June 11-23. 35 scholars trained in 2 rotating groups at James Reserve, Idyllwild, and University of Redlands, then to SCGIS-SCB Conference
Scholars Program II July 24-Aug4. 35 scholars trained in 2 rotating groups at James Reserve, Idyllwild, and University of Redlands

2007 – Esri Keynote: Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate and founder of "The Green Belt Movement"
SCGIS Conference: June 25-28, Asilomar
Third year of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding for the Scholars Program
Scholars Training June 4-15 at James Reserve and University of Redlands

2008 – Esri Keynote: Dr. Peter H. Raven, director, Missouri Botanical Garden [8]
SCGIS Conference: Aug 12-15, Asilomar
Fourth year of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding for the Scholars Program
Scholars Training July 21 – August 1 at James Reserve

2009 – Esri Keynotes: Hernando de Soto Polar, Willie Smits, Borneo Orangutan Survival
SCGIS Conference: July 18-21, Northwoods Resort, Big Bear California
Scholars Training June 29 – July 10 at James Reserve

2010 – Esri Keynote: Richard Saul Wurman, architect, graphic designer, and expert in how to make complex information understandable.[10]
SCGIS Conference: July 8-11 Asilomar
Scholars Training June 21 – July 7 at UC Davis

2011 – Esri Keynote: Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director European Environment Agency.[11]
SCGIS July 16-18, Big Bear California
Scholars Training June 27 – July 8 at UC Davis, and advanced training at Esri Learning Center, Redlands

2012 – Esri Keynote: Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.[12]
SCGIS Conference: July 19-22, Asilomar
Scholars Training June 29 –July 18 at UC Davis

2013 -- Esri Keynote: Sam Pitroda, Business Executive, Indian Technology Policy Advisor.
Scholars Training June 17 – July 5 at UC Davis

2014 Esri Keynote: Penny Pritzger, US Secretary of Commerce, and Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, astronaut
Scholars Training June 17 – July 9 at UC Davis

2015 Esri Keynote: Martin O’Malley, Former Governor Maryland
Scholars Training June 29 – July 17 at UC Davis