Chihuahuan Desert Conference

Whiptailed lizard

The Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens are teaming up to host a third Chihuahuan Desert Conference in El Paso on November 15-17, 2023. To learn more about the meeting visit the conference website at  The Conference Committee is now accepting abstracts for both oral presentations and posters.

The conference will bring together researchers and conservation advocates from across the Chihuahuan Desert to help facilitate collaboration in the region and learn of new programs that have been completed or are underway.

The first conference hosted by the Zoo in 2019 featured the Zoo’s new $16M Chihuahuan Desert exhibit that features the flora and fauna of this amazing region. The exhibit includes an arroyo and a flash flood feature that helps people better understand an important natural force helping to shape the desert landscape, plus common plants and animals including a number of endangered species. 

Jaguar by Yannick TURBE, Wikimedia Creative Commons

Recognized globally as a hotspot for wildlife conservation, the Chihuahuan Desert surrounding El Paso is one of the most biologically diverse eco-regions in North America.  Chihuahuan Desert conservation programs at the Zoo underway include efforts to breed and release critically endangered Mexican wolves in the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona and both field and captive breeding conservation efforts to help save endangered Thick-billed Parrots, peninsular pronghorns and jaguars.

Conference Committee

Rick LoBello, Chair, El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Jacob Croft, Vice Chair
Lois Balin, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Sarah Borrego, El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Wendy Diaz, Frontera Land Alliance
Dr. Cuauhcihuatl Vital García, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez
Dr. Kevin Floyd, University of Texas El Paso
Nuria Andreu Garcia, University of Texas El Paso
Dr. Matthew Gompper, New Mexico State University
Davina Heredia, Champion Studio’s Folklorico “Cuauhtli”
David Larson, National Park Service, Fort Davis National Historic Site
Joe Montisano, El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Heather Rivera, El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Committee Roles

Chair – Rick LoBello – Lead committee.  Liaison with Zoo.  Invites to 2019 list, logistics, Rick LoBello, Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Vice Chair – Jacob Croft. back up Chair, take on other tasks from list below, Jacob Croft, Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition

Fundraising – area environmental groups and business sponsorships, Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition is the 501(c) 3 non-profits   – Joe Montisano

Registration and Budget – Dr. Cuauhcihuatl Vital García.  Determine overall budget, projected participation, cost of registration.

Marketing – promote everything we do helping get participants, sponsors Sarah Borrego
Nuria Andreu, David Larson – recruit participants.

Schedule – Heather Rivera. Coordinate all aspects of the schedule.

Speakers- Dr. Kevin Floyd. Key note, luncheon, evening.

Entertainment – Davina Heredia

Field Trips –

Volunteers are needed to help plan the conference and help with all aspects of making it happen. For more information contact Rick LoBello at 915-212-2823/

Links to the 2019 Chihuahuan Desert Conference

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