- Members-Only Online Plant Sales with Curbside Pick-Up. You shop at the online plant store Tuesday, Oct. 19 through Thursday, Oct. 21, starting at 10 a.m. and then schedule a pick-up at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery. Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and the Davis Botanical Society gain early access to the online plant sales, get the best selections, and save 10 percent. This is for members only, but you can become a member anytime. Sign up here. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (530)-752-4880. See more information here.
- Public Online Plant Sales with Curbside Pick-Up. You shop at the online plant store Friday, Oct. 22 through Monday, Oct. 25, starting at 10 a.m., and then schedule a pick-up at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery. To gain access to the online plant sale store, you need to subscribe to the Arboretum's online e-newsletter, The Leaflet. Sign up here. (A link to access the online store will be emailed to current subscribers the morning of Oct. 22.) See more information here.
Curbside pickup dates are Oct. 26 through Nov. 13, excluding Sundays, Mondays and Veterans' Day. As earlier mentioned, when you place youronline order, you will receive a confirmation with a link to schedule your pickup time. Check out more questions and answers here or contact email@example.com.
COVID-19 Pandemic Rules. To keep everybody safe, there are important COVID-19 pandemic rules posted on the Arboretum plant sales website:
- "Before you come to the Arboretum Teaching Nursery for curbside pickup appointment, please complete the UC Davis COVID-19 Daily Symptom Survey for visitors."
- "Our nursery staff will be wearing masks. We encourage you to do the same."
- "A staff member will take your name, ask that you stay in your vehicle and load your trunk with your order — please be sure there is enough room."
- "If you have any COVID-19 symptoms on the day of your appointment, you will be able to reschedule."
Meanwhile, here are a few photos of pollinators and past plant sales to help inspire you to "go green" and "think pollinators," while helping the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery.
The recent wildfire that roared through rural Vacaville, reaching the outer edges of the city, seared the souls of the victims but what's happening now is warming their hearts.
A Vacaville-based artist and philanthropist has turned a catastrophe into creativity: she is creating paintings as a way to provide financial assistance to the fire victims.
Shortly after the August fire, Lisa Rico founded the Vacaville Fire Art Project and recruited 10 fellow artists to join her team. Already they have raised $13,000 of the $20,000 goal. Every single dollar goes to the fire victims.
Their themes include pigs, ducks, cows, chickens, goats, donkeys, horses, rabbits, birds, bees and butterflies. The fire injured or killed many of their subjects. Clay Ford of Clay's Bees (Pleasants Valley Honey Company), Caroline Yelle of Pope Canyon Bees, and her business partner, Rick Schubert are among those who lost most of their bees.
Lisa describes the project on her Facebook page: "An art project to benefit locals affected from the recent LNU fire. Hundreds of homes and farms were destroyed. I will paint one painting a day selling them for $300 each. All proceeds will go to the fire victims. A few of my art colleagues have offered to help as well."
Lisa likes the "immediacy of the medium and richness of the color possibilities." She especially enjoys painting the "faces of people from other cultures and countries" and "local flora and fauna." Her husband, Richard, former editor and publisher of The Reporter, Vacaville, and himself an artist, is a contributor to the Vacaville Fire Art Project.
The couple evacuated from their home as the fire threatened their neighborhood. Sadly, friends lost their homes in Pleasants Valley, Gates Canyon and beyond.
Unknown to many, for the past three years Lisa has challenged herself to "paint one a day" every September. This year the deadly fire turned her commitment to philanthropy. She has created 25 paintings--or one a day--of the 50 pieces submitted in the Vacaville Fire Art Project.
Prospective buyers can access the Facebook page to see and purchase a painting. The artists usually announce beforehand what day or time they will post an image of their work, and the price. It's first-come, first-served. Some are sold within minutes.
Since this is a bug blog, we're sharing some of the amazing insect art that Rico created. One a day...every day...for the past 25 days...
(Note: See the Facebook page for the other incredible art. You'll love those adorable farm animals!)
If you marked your calendar to attend the Saturday, March 21 open house at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, you can unmark it.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology has postponed its open house to comply with the new UC Davis policies regarding coronavirus pandemic cautions. Officials initially set the open house, themed "Pollinators and Microbes," from 1 to 4 p.m.
In the meantime, head out to your favorite pollinator garden and see what's foraging. You might see not only honey bees, but yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii), Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) and more. Spring begins March 19!
"Studying insects is something you can do anytime or anywhere," Bohart officials said. "We recommend that individuals and families get outside and explore arthropods. Here are great info sheets for many of the common arthropods in a California backyard or a local park.
- Common Insects, Information Sheets (Written by Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology.
- How to Collect Insects (Video)
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, and directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, houses nearly 8 million insect specimens, a live petting zoo, and a gift shop.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology weekly Wednesday seminars are now virtual seminars and are being live-streamed through Zoom and linked on the department's website, says coordinator Rachel Vannette, community ecologist and assistant professor. (See list of spring seminars)
The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Plant Sale, initially slated March 14, is also canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, now global.
For information on the coronavirus, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
UC Davis Directives as of March 12 (See website for updates)
From Chancellor Gary May:
Acting out of an abundance of caution amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have decided to take additional steps in our efforts to protect our students, faculty and staff, and the community at large, as we all do our part to help contain the spread of the virus.
We take these actions in consultation with the UC Office of the President, the Academic Senate and campus administrators, as well as Yolo County Public Health (which, as of today, has reported one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county, none on the Davis campus). As this situation continues to evolve rapidly, we will respond with further directives. For now, this letter addresses the following topics:
Gatherings — Mandating the cancellation or postponement of events with planned attendance of more than 150 people, from Thursday, March 12, through March 31. We are evaluating this timing on an ongoing basis, as we continue to consult with public health officials. This mandate does not apply to instruction through the end of this week. Our overarching goals: For the sake of everyone's health, we want to minimize face-to-face contact, in instruction and office hours, in workspaces and large gatherings. And we want to emphasize to students, staff and faculty: If you are sick, stay home.
As we strive to minimize face-to-face contact, we announced March 7 that faculty and students have maximum flexibility to complete their Winter Quarter work without having in-class instruction. We are now strongly encouraging faculty to go online with their teaching. We said webinars would be available to faculty who needed assistance making the conversion — and we now have a schedule of four different webinars on quizzes/exams and other Canvas tools, and web conferencing and video. Each is being presented daily, every day this week. The schedule and links are here on the Keep Teaching website. It is very likely that we will need to have online capacity in place for Spring Quarter classes.
Faculty also are strongly encouraged to make use of other technologies, such as Zoom and Facetime, to provide opportunities for students to approach them with questions.
Graduate and professional instruction: Given the special nature of graduate and professional instruction, we ask the faculty involved to use their discretion in endeavoring to optimize curricular delivery (as well as graduate advising and mentoring) while remaining mindful of public health advice to observe social distancing to the extent possible. We encourage graduate and professional instructors to utilize opportunities for virtual instruction and testing where appropriate.
"Owl that" at more at the ninth annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day on Saturday, Feb. 15 when 13 museums and collections showcase their projects.
The event, to take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free and family friendly. All 13 sites are within walking distance except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road and the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
The science-based event, always held the Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend, features the diversity of life. It is billed as a “free, educational event for the community where visitors get to meet and talk with UC Davis scientists from undergraduate students to staff to emeritus professors and see amazing objects and organisms from the world around us,” according to Biodiversity Museum Day coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. The schedule is online.
Last year's event drew more than 4000 visitors. Schedules vary from collection to collection.
- The Botanical Conservatory, the Greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive, will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The following five will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, Shields Oak Grove, alongside the Vet School, Garrod Drive on campus
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 and Main Hall of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- California Raptor Center, 340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1394 and Mail Hall, Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road
Two collections will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
These four will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, 328 Young Hall and grounds
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road (take West Hutchison Drive to Hopkins)
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
- Marine Invertebrate Collection, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
New this year will be public talks from noon to 1 p.m. in 194 Young Hall. Speaking will be butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology; Gabriella Nevitt, professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Melanie Truan, staff research associate, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology and former postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis. Titles will be announced.
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, Yang said, but the collections are not always accessible to the public. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, and also online at http://biodiversitymuseumday.edu, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
Capsule information on each:
Arboretum and Public Garden, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Melissa Cruz Hernandez, outreach and leadership program manager, Arboretum and Public Garden, notes that the Arboretum activities will all be at the Shields Oak Grove, alongside the School of Veterinary Medicine, Garrod Drive. This is a change from last year. The Arboretum Ambassadors are planning fun-filled oak tree conservation activities the whole family will enjoy. “Learn about the many contributions oaks make to sustaining habitat biodiversity, what UC Davis and the Arboretum and Public Garden are doing to protect the trees, and win prizes for participating in the games at the Shields Oak Grove!”
Hernandez announced the following Arboretum activities:
- GATEways Outreach Ecological group: Learn what it is like to live as an oak tree through a life size board game and win prizes! Explore the ecological impacts oaks have in our community and discover about how the changing climate is impacting this important species.
- GATEways Outreach Humanities group: Did you know the US Constitution was signed in oak gall ink? Join us and try out oak gall ink for yourself, and engage in mindfulness activities.
- Museum Education: Take a self-guide tour through our iconic oak grove and learn about the unique characteristics of 12 of our favorite trees.
- Emily Griswold Tour: Join oak expert and Director of GATEways Horticulture, Emily Griswold, on an engaging tour of the oak grove. Uncover behind the scenes information about the grove and get your quercus questions answered.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is the home of a global collection of nearly 8 million insect specimens. Insect scientists will meet with the public to help them explore insects and spiders (arachnids). Highlights will include the 500,000-specimen butterfly/moth collection, curated by entomologist Jeff Smith. The Bohart maintains a live “petting zoo,” comprised of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Also, the UC Davis Library set up a Mary Foley Benson exhibit in the Academic Surge hallway. It will be up ponly for the month of February. "The library, is, of course full of special collections including very important research materials on bees and on nematodes," noted Tabatha Yang, the Bohart education and outreach coordinator.
California Raptor Center, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Visitors to the The California Raptor Center, located at 1340 Equine Lane, Davis, just off Old Davis Road, will see a living collection of non-releasable raptors. The center's educational ambassador birds will be out "on the glove," so visitors can get a close view of the birds of prey, and talk to the volunteers. Julie Cotton, volunteer and outreach coordinator, said visitors will see "on the glove" Swainson's hawks, a white-tailed kite, barn owl, great-horned owls and a eregrine falcon. Viewable in their exhibits will be golden eagles, American kestrels, turkey vultures, prairie falcon and Western screech owls.
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m
The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, located in Room 1394 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane (off LaRue Road) will feature an action packed morning with displays highlighting carnivores, bats, reptiles and fish, said director Andrew Engilis Jr. Visitors will see specimen preparation demonstrations. Also planned is a kids' craft table.
Paleontology Collection, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Visitors at the Paleontology Collection, located in the Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road, can view fossil specimens dating from as old as 550 million years ago to more recent animal skeletons. Paleontology graduate students in invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology will answer questions and provide interesting factoids.
The Phaff Yeast Culture Collection in the Department of Food Science, and the Wine Yeast and Bacteria collection in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, are jointly hosting exhibits and tours. They are located at the Robert Mondavi Institute Teaching Winery and Brewery Building, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus. Visitors to the yeast collection exhibits can taste kombucha and Vegemite, smell lots of different species of yeast, look at yeast and bacteria cells under the microscope, learn about the history of yeast research at UC Davis, and hear about the latest discoveries coming out of the UC Davis yeast collections, says Kyria Boundy-Mills, curator of the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Food Science and Technology.
Anthropology Museum, noon to 4 p.m.
Visitors to the Department of Anthropology Museum, located in 328 Young Hall, will see collections of archaeological, ethnographic, biological and archival materials. They will "experience our cultural diversity through art pieces from around the world, our complex evolutionary history through primate skeletons and fossil hominin casts, or how archaeologists at UC Davis work across the globe to understand past cultural diversity through the artifacts people leave behind," said Professor Christyann Darwent of the Department of Anthropology. "There will also be an opportunity for visitors to learn to make tools from obsidian stone and to throw a spear with an atlatl."
The Botanical Conservatory, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We again expect our cacao tree to be loaded with ripe fruit for display amongst the plethora of plant we'll be displaying!" says collections manager Ernesto Sandoval. "We'll also be showcasing our very well established pond that made a splash last year and newly added small epiphyte tree along with three towering Titan Arums in leaf! if the outdoor weather is good, Visitors will be encouraged to take a walk over to the nearby Joe and Emma Lin Biological Orchard and Gardens and bask in the biodiversity of these sizable plots of Biodiversity and the neatly pruned fruit tree orchard." The Botanical Conservatory is located on Kleiber Hall Drive.
Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium, noon to 4 p.m.
Visitors to the Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium, located in Room 1026 of the Sciences Laboratory Building, central campus (off Kleiber Hall Drive), can tour the collection area, see plant pressing and mounting demonstrations, “pet our plant zoo” (a table showcasing the diversity of plants, including mosses, pine cones, ferns and flowering plants); look and plants under a microscope, and view oak exhibit. The children's activity? Making herbarium specimens, says curator Ellen Dean.
Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, noon to 4 p.m.
Visitors to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee demonstration garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Bee Biology Road, can learn about bees and see the plants they frequent, said manager Christine Casey. Guests will learn how to identify bees. They can also use a bee vacuum to catch, observe and release bees. A six-foot long sculpture of a worker bee by artist Donna Billick of Davis anchors the haven.
Nematode Collection, noon to 4 p.m.
The nematode collection will open from noon to 4 p.m. in the Science Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive. It will feature both live and slide-mounted nematodes, as well as jars of larger parasites. Nematodes, also called worms, are described as “elongated cylindrical worms parasitic in animals or plants or free-living in soil or water. They exist in almost every known environment.”
Marine Invertebrate Collection, noon to 4 p.m.
The Marine Invertebrate Collection in the Science Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive, will have touch tanks, preserved specimens, and some displays showing aspects of marine ecology and evolution. There will also be a seashell activity for kids, said Ivana Li. "In our touch tanks, we'll likely have sea stars and sea urchins. We are showing all the different geographical locations from which they were collected. This means that people can match up where specimens like our slipper lobster or salp came from. Other displays that we will have are on how to distinguish true crabs from other animals, and a display on seaweed ecology."
The sponsors made it all possible to have this event free to the public, Yang said. Ink Monkey is providing 300 t-shirts for the volunteers, and Marrone Bio Innovations and Novozymes are also major supporters. Other supporters include the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, UC Davis Library, White Labs Inc., Margaret Berendsen, Fletchers Real Estate, Peter Lash and Dan Potter.
Further information is available on the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
She spoke on "The Importance of People in Pollinator Conservation" to a capacity crowd gathered July 18 in the ARC Ballroom.
“Who needs to act?" she asked. "Farmers, governments, conservationists, researchers, the general public and businesses.”
Quoting noted biologist/author E. O. Wilson, Dicks said that insects are “the little things that run the world.”
Dicks began her presentation by chronicling news media accounts of “insectageddon,” which Cambridge fellow Robert Macfarlane defined on Twitter as “the current calamitous population decline of insect species globally, with catastrophic results for life on earth.”
One news story, by environment editor Damian Carrington of The Guardian, warned that "The world's insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems." Carrington, in his Feb. 10, 2019 piece, titled “Plummeting Insect Numbers ‘Threaten Collapse of Nature," wrote that “More than 40 percent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered...The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”
“Wild insect pollinators have declined in occurrence, diversity, and in some cases, abundance, in Europe and North America,” Dicks told the crowd. “Lack of data for other regions prevents global assessment of status for insect pollinators, but the main drivers of decline are operating everywhere.”
“Why does pollinator decline matter?” she asked. “Eighty-eight percent of wild plant species depend on pollinators. At least half of the crop pollination serves are provided by wild pollinators—half by managed honey bees.”
Farmers, governments, conservationists, researchers, the general public and businesses must get involved, she reiterated.
What Farmers Should Do
For example, she said, farmers should
- Plant flowers for nectar and pollen
- Manage hedges and forest edges for wildlife
- Restore and protect flower-rich native habitats like meadows, scrubland and woodland
- Provide set aside or fallow areas
- Leave field edges and corners to naturally generate
- Provide nesting sites for bees ("bare ground, big old trees and bee hotels")
What the General Public Should Do
The general public's role should be:
- Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees
- Let your garden grow wild
- Cut your grass less often
- Don't disturb insect nest and hibernation spots
- Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
What Governments Should Do
Dicks touched on 10 "pollinator policies" that governments should do:
- Raise pesticide regularly standards
- Promote integrated pest management
- Include indirect and sublethal effects in GM crop risk assessment
- Regulate movement of managed pollinators
- Develop incentives, such as insurance schemes, to help farmers benefit from ecosystem services instead of agrochemicals
- Recognize pollination as an agricultural input in a extension services
- Support diversified farming systems
- Conserve and restore 'green infrastructure” (a network of habitats that pollinators can move between) in agricultural and urban landscapes
- Develop long-term monitoring of pollinators and pollination
- Fund participatory research on improving yields in organic, diversified and ecologically intensive farming
Dicks, in her position at the University of East Anglia, engages in research in entomology, agroecology, management of biodiversity and ecosystem services on farms. (See research profile.)
In addition to addressing pollinator decline and "who needs to act and what should they do," the researcher touched on how to motivate people: "insights from the behavioral sciences; and the importance of local knowledge and culture."
Awareness and Understanding Are Not Sufficient
She offered key insights from behavioral science, noting that "awareness and understanding are not sufficient; decisions are not always rational; social norms are important; peer-to-peer communication within social groups drives behavior change and people must feel ABLE to act in their current context."
Dicks recommended that the attendees become acquainted with the work of the coalition Promote Pollinators (https://promotepollinators.org). An excerpt from the website: "Pollinators play a key role in the conservation of biological diversity, ecosystems, food production and the global economy. The effects of current human activities hamper animal pollination. Promote Pollinators, the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, reaches out to potential new partners to develop and implement national pollinator strategies. The coalition believes that country-led politics can foster policy measures and innovative action on protecting pollinators."
She also cited the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Dicks described pollinator decline as "a complex issue." People--including some politicians--have to change to help protect the pollinators and the ecosystem.
How Some Politicians Use Science
Dicks quoted author Mark Avery, former director of conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: "I have rarely seen a policy argument won through logic and science, even though everybody pretends that they are. No, politicians use science like a drunk uses a lamp post--more for support than for illumination."
The conference, “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” covered a wide range of topics in pollinator research: from genomics to ecology and their application to land use and management; to breeding of managed bees; and to monitoring of global pollinator populations. (See agenda.)
Dicks keynoted the conference on Thursday morning, July 18, and Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, delivered a keynote address on Friday, July 19, discussing "Bee Nutritional Ecology: From Genes to Landscapes."
Pollination ecologist and professor Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, both of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, co-chaired the conference. Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, and events manager Elizabeth Luu coordinated the four-day event.
Presenters from 15 Countries
Williams said that presenters represented 15 countries: Australia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Colombia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. "And we had at least one attendee from China--although not presenting."
"This was the fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy," Williams said. "Each time we try to add new elements that address emerging challenges and new directions in research. This year's sessions felt as fresh and innovative as ever, adding symposia on climate change, innovative monitoring and data collection, and urban bees. By restricting presenters to those who had not presented in the past six years we also added new voices and perspectives."
"We also grew. In the past the conference has been just under 200 attendees. This year it topped 250, and we had to turn away several people because we simply could not fit more into the space. We added a second evening of posters to provide more time to interact. The response was overwhelming with 112 poster presenters!"
Williams said that the conference "also added more explicit policy elements by creating a set of ViewPOINTS documents summarizing key areas in pollinator biology and heath that target policy makers. This has allowed for collaborative interaction across the attendees and a set of deliverable products from our interactions."
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, coordinated the conference, with events manager Elizabeth "Liz" Luu serving in the lead role.
"It was an amazing team effort pulling it all together," Williams said. "Liz Luu from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center (HRC) was in a word, fantastic, keeping every thing and everyone together. The HPC really showed what it can do and what tremendous value it adds to our campus. The organizing committee worked so well together, sharing the load throughout. A great set of colleagues!"
The next International Pollinator Conference will take place at Pennsylvania State University. Grozinger and Rufus Isaacs of Michigan State University launched the conference in 2012. They are held every third year.