The Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2021 welcomed 270 delegates in February, attracting our largest ever attendance.  Attendees tuned in virtually this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, to access a packed programme of twelve presentations, four workshops and eight lunchtime chatrooms.

The conference, in partnership with ARG UK, annually aims to offer the latest news on herpetofauna conservation and many networking opportunities. As the Herp Workers Meeting is a key event in the annual herpetological calendar for sharing research and exchange views our team was keen to capture as much of the live experience as possible.

Despite not being able to meet face-to-face this year, the online conference brought some new advantages to content, enabling the use of polls, digital links to projects and QR code sharing of research, plus a wider selection of speakers presenting from across the UK and Europe. Lunchtime chatrooms enabled us to welcome additional partners to the event, highlighting more projects with ecologists, herpetologists, volunteers, consultants and students, both at home and abroad. Over the weekend delegates generated 4,481 chat messages on the live message boards, demonstrating a strong desire to network and discuss all things herpetofauna, despite not being in person, on an equal and fully visible basis. Attendees were also able to direct message other delegates and speakers instantly, creating another 200 conversations and connections.

Delegates were also able to browse and shop at the stands in a virtual booths area and view research posters. The traditional evening’s entertainment also went ahead, enabling delegates to grab a drink and a pen for the return of the now infamous ‘Have I Got Newts For You’ quiz on the Saturday night.

More importantly, the virtual platform enabled a more environmentally and economically friendly event making it more inclusive, which in turn encouraged many new participants and a more diverse and wider geographically spread audience.

We are delighted by the delegate feedback we have received so far, which has given us a great opportunity to review the way we deliver this event in the future.


What delegates have told us;

"A good range of topics and level of study for UK and abroad."

"I found it to be informative, interesting and inspiring!"

"An excellent mix of content - an inspiring weekend"

"The virtual meeting has been great in terms of accessibility and being able to engage at the same time with other attendees and be involved with the discussions throughout the weekend"

"Being a virtual event meant that I could check out links from the chat and follow up different sites or topics during the presentations rather than writing up reams of notes that need following up at a later date"

"The quality and range of talks and workshops were particularly good and with a nice mix of subjects."

"I felt I was able to ask more questions, provide answers and discuss with other people on the chat area, more so than I would have been able to in person."

"Going on-line resulted in much more information and questions being covered than there would normally be after a talk."

"Great use of the polls to keep everyone involved and thinking."

"Dissemination of information is a big problem in any sector, and an online format like this which broadens an audience and makes current projects and research more accessible is a brilliant thing."

Thank you to this year's generous Sponsors:

Photos by Rob Ward, Celise Taylor and Steven Allain