WRRC Director Speaks at Multiple Conferences and Remembers Pat O’Toole

March 8, 2024
Pat O’Toole

During the second half of February, WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal participated in multiple meetings and conferences. On February 20, she had the pleasure of speaking about the WRRC with Australian visitors sponsored by the Aurora Education Foundation and hosted by the Native Nations Institute of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. Later that week she attended the Family Farm Alliance Annual Conference, Resilience in Every Drop: Safeguarding America's Food Security, in Reno, Nevada. At that conference on February 22, representatives from the University of Arizona, California State University, and Colorado State University focused on how university faculty and staff partner with farmers and ranchers. Conference attendees sorely missed the presence of long-time Family Farm Alliance President Pat O’Toole, who suffered a stroke on February 13 and passed away shortly after the conference. A great family man, rancher, and contributor to efforts to understand and advance family farming, O’Toole guest lectured for Megdal’s graduate water policy course and delivered a campus-wide distinguished lecture in January 2016. Megdal notes, “Pat was a giant — a gentle giant. His kindness and commitment were evident in every conversation I had with him.” The O’Toole family asks that donations in Pat’s memory be made to The Patrick O’Toole Young Conservationist Scholarship, which will provide funding for young farmers and ranchers to attend future Family Farm Alliance annual conferences. Obituary

New Orleans was the next stop on Megdal’s busy itinerary, where she gave a talk at Tulane University’s 2024 Law and Environmental Policy Summit, Environmental Law in a Climate of Change. This event was organized by College of Law students. Joining efforts with Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke and Nevada-based journalist Daniel Rothberg, Megdal presented on Western perspectives at the Summit’s February 24 panel, entitled The Colorado Water River Agreement: A Template for Future Water Compacts. Megdal’s final stop on February 29 brought her back to Nevada, where she gave the opening keynote address, titled “Salty Reflections,” and was recognized by the Multi-State Salinity Coalition (MSSC) as a 2024 Salt of the Earth Awardee (along with Celeste Cantú) at the 2024 MSSC Annual Salinity Summit. Participating in each of these events, teaching her spring graduate course, Water Policy in Arizona and Semi-arid Regions, and preparing for the WRRC 2024 Annual Conference made the second half of February very busy and productive!

Image: Family Farm Alliance

Patrick O’Toole Obituary 
The Patrick O’Toole Young Conservationist Scholarship