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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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News from the
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
3225 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61802
January 18, 2012

Release on
Contact: Chris Beuoy

Avian Veterinarian to Speak on Sociological Dimensions of Conservation

Can disciplines such as psychology and sociology play a role in wildlife conservation? Dr. LoraKim Joyner believes they can.

She will speak on "Human Dimensions of Conservation" at 7:00 pm on Monday, January 30, at the Large Animal Clinic Auditorium of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. The lecture is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in Lot F-27, 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

Dr. Joyner will also be a guest on Focus, a call-in talk show on WILL-AM at 10:00 am on Tuesday, January 31.

Dr. Joyner specializes in conservation of wild parrot populations. She consults in conservation and the human dimensions of conservation throughout Latin America. She directs Lafeber Conservation and One Earth Conservation, overseeing projects in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. She is also a certified trainer in nonviolent communication and has served as a Unitarian Universalist minister for 10 years.

Her lecture is sponsored by Lafever Conservation and Wildlife, the Wildlife Medical Clinic at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, the Illinois Student Chapter of the American Medical Association, and the U of I Pre-Vet Club.


Additional information from the speaker:

Synopsis of Human Dimensions of Conservation

Conservation teams are increasingly focusing on the human dimensions of avian conservation. Research in and application of human dimensions include human welfare evaluation, socioeconomic evaluations, conservation psychology, ethnoornithology, and social and emotional intelligence. Conservation psychology takes into account the science of human behavior and then coaches people to care by integration cognition, emotions, and behavior. Ethnoornithology studies the relationships between humans and birds, and uses this information to form more inclusive and effective conservation teams. Social and emotional intelligence emphasizes communication skills, empathy, and cognitive integration. Examples are given of all three fields used in the author's avian conservation practices. Though it is not possible for everyone involved in wildlife to become proficient with the sociological aspects of human and wildlife relationships, there is much merit in forming multidisciplinary teams that include social scientists or facilitators to help us navigate the complexity of human thinking and behavior.

Synopsis of Compassionate Conservation: Ethics and Welfare in the Field (lecture for veterinary students)

We undertake ethics so that we may offer better care to both captive and free ranging wildlife. Component wildlife ethics includes two aspects: an understanding of ethical principles and skills in ethical deliberation. Ethical principles reviewed here include utilitarianism, deontological ethics, environmentalism or respect for nature, virtue ethics, relational ethics, care ethics, and reverence for life ethics. Other processes and tools that take into account human sociology, behavior, and subconscious functioning in moral decision making include narrative ethics, socioscience, listening and communication skills, and needs-based ethics. By instituting ethical practices and programs within our wildlife and conservation management plans and organizations we improve our ability to care for ourselves, other humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. In addition to ethical deliberation, we need welfare and biological sciences to inform our decisions. The relatively new fields of conservation behavior and cognitive ethology provide necessary background information regarding welfare of wild birds as they are applied to wildlife conservation. By incorporating behavioral analysis and insight in the mentation of others and how it relates to behavior, conservationists can design research and implement conservation intervention strategies that include and support species as well as individuals, including humans. This multidisciplinary approach of research and intervention can positively impact not only wild nonhuman animals, but those that live in closer association with humans, as well as the humans themselves. Exploring observations from wild psittacines offers awareness of current trends, elucidation of clinical applications, and invitations for further research and collaboration.

LoraKim Joyner, DVM, MPVM, MDiv

Birds have always called to LoraKim. Since an early age she always had birds in the home, out in the pigeon coop, or eating at the yard feeder. Her hope for avian flourishing led her to a B.S. in Avian Sciences and then later to a D.V.M. where she specialized in birds.

A later Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine emphasized avian research. Hearing birds call to her heart, she worked in other countries as a consultant in avian medicine and conservation, with an emphasis on parrot conservation. Her hopes for the birds led her to the Philippines, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala where she lived for several years.

Her work with birds has also included working as a Clinical Instructor and Research Assistant Professor at the Nondomestic Avian Clinic at the College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University. There she later served as the Community Advocate, where she taught ethics and grief management as well as assisted staff, faculty, and clients in dealing with grief and ethical issues.

Seeing the need to address human well-being, LoraKim obtained a M.Div degree, was ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister, and became a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication. She served in parish ministry for 10 years and now is a community minister emphasizing Multispecies Ministry.

Part of her work includes being a consultant for Wings of Compassion, a website dedicated to grieving, healing, and hope in avian-human relationships ( She celebrates with joy her position as Director of Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife, and One Earth Conservation where she can support birds and people around the world make life-giving connections. She currently has psittacine conservation projects in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

She lectures, writes, blogs, and preaches widely on Compassionate Conservation, Human Dimensions of Conservation, Avian Conservation Medicine, Animal Ethics, and Multispecies Ministry. She leads workshops on Multispecies Awareness Encounters, Compassionate Communication, and Ecospirituality. Her main spiritual path is anchoring her Unitarian Universalist faith development in Sufi and Compassionate Communication practices, as well as nature, birdwatching, journaling, nature poetry, and integral ecology.

Rev. Joyner served as minister of the UU Fellowship of Gainesville for 4 years, Treasurer of the Florida District UU Minister's Association for 3 years, Secretary and Trustee of the UU Florida District Board for 3 years, and President of Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry for 8 years. Currently she is a member of the UUA Nominating Committee, the UU Animal Ministry Board, and the Parrot's International Board. She is also the Coordinator for the UUAM Reverence for Life Program.

She lives with her spouse, Rev. Dr. Meredith Garmon (parish minister of the UU Fellowship of Gainesville) and her son, Yency Contreras who as a native Honduran, was granted refugee status here in the U.S., and became a US citizen in September 2011.