"Vanishing Night:
The Urgent Need to Save the Night"

2022 Annual Conference
IDA Missouri

Evening of Friday, September 30th and Saturday, October 1st
Hosted by Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, Kansas (Greater Kansas City)



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2022 Annual Conference - Schedule




Keynote Speaker


Paul Bogard, Author

Paul Bogard is the author of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light and The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are. His first children’s book What if Night? was published in late 2020. A native Minnesotan, Paul is now an associate professor of English at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota USA, where he teaches creative writing and environmental literature. Find him at paul-bogard.com.


General Conference Speakers


Krystal Anton, Johnson County Community College

Since 2015, Krystal Anton has been the Zero Waste Coordinator in the Center for Sustainability at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. In 2017 after noticing several dead birds on campus, Krystal began crowdsourcing bird collision data and designed a formal study for the campus which began in 2018. In 2019 window remediation was installed in eleven locations with another eight locations installed in 2020. Both untreated and treated windows continue to be monitored for changes and effectiveness. 

Krystal also oversees a staff of interns who operate the onsite food waste composting program, and all specialty recycling programs. She also supports departments and staff across campus to implement changes moving the college towards its goal of Zero Waste to Landfill. 


Cindy Cassidy, IDA Texas

Cindy Luongo Cassidy is the leader of the Texas Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, a founding member of the Hill Country Alliance Night Sky Team, President of the Board for the Hays County Friends of the Night Sky, and a Hays County Master Naturalist.She has twenty years experience as a lighting consultant, was the key player in positioning the City of Dripping Springs to receive the prestigious International Dark Sky Community designation, the first in Texas, and has assisted numerous other International Dark Sky Place applications in Texas.  In 2019, Cindy was awarded the Crawford-Hunter Award, the highest honor that the International Dark-Sky Association bestows to individuals who, during their lifetime, have contributed an extraordinary effort to light pollution abatement. Cassidy lives in Driftwood, TX and was the creator and Executive Director of the hugely successful Texas Night Sky Festival®. 


Don Ficken, IDA Missouri

Don Ficken is retired business executive and an amateur astronomer whose passion for protecting our night sky from light pollution grew out of his love for nature and the science of astronomy.  In 2018, Don joined with others to launch a Missouri Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association (www.darkskymissouri.org) where he currently serves as Chapter President.

Under his leadership with Missouri Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, the chapter operates state-wide to measure the brightness of the night sky and build public awareness and support about the importance of protecting Missouri's night skies.  As part of his work with the chapter, he launched a collaborative called “Lights Out Heartland” which brings together organizations from multiple states to protect birds as they migrate at night. 


Dr. Vayu Gokhale, Truman State University in Kirksville

Dr. Vayujeet Gokhale is an astronomer and an associate professor of physics at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. His research interests include the study of asymmetries in eclipsing binary stars and the study of various ways of quantifying light pollution. Dr. Gokhale earned his PhD from Louisiana State University in 2007. Before joining the PhD program at LSU, Dr. Gokhale earned his Masters and Bachelors degrees in Physics at the University of Bombay in Mumbai, India.

Dr. Gokhale has been involved in light pollution related research, outreach, and activism for the past five years. Dr. Gokhale and his students have worked on quantifying the sky brightness in the Kirksville area, and have helped in establishing the "SQM program" for the Missouri chapter of the International Dark Sky Association. He is leading an effort to install dark sky friendly outdoor lighting at Truman State and in Kirksville. Some of his work is supported by grants from the NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium.

Dr. Gokhale lives just outside of Kirksville with his wife Michelle and their two children and dog. His interests include traveling, camping, and astrophotography. Dr. Gokhale loves the night sky and National Parks, and dreams of someday becoming an astronomy park ranger at the Arches National Park in Utah.


DeAnn Gregory, Missouri Sierra Club

DeAnn Gregory is a retired Missouri Department of Natural Resources Environmental Specialist.  She led the Sierra Club Missouri Chapter project advocating for light pollution mitigation in Kansas City, Missouri.  DeAnn is a conservationist and wildlife advocate. 


Grace McKee, Student, 1st Place KC STEM Alliance Engineering Competition 2022

Grace McKee is a graduate of Summit Technology Academy and Pleasant Hill High School and is a current student at the University of Missouri studying engineering.  As a senior in high school, Grace worked with her partner, Aidan Juarez, to research, design, and construct a prototype that could reduce light pollution along pedestrian walkways as part of an engineering capstone course at Summit Technology Academy.

Learn more about the competition: Learn more


Jean Nock B.S., Master Naturalist, Certified Interpretive Guide and Co-Owner Liberated Horsemanship, LLC. (An international educational corporation) 

Jean Nock is a Certified Interpretive Guide, Master Naturalist, Dark Sky Volunteer, and Stream Team Volunteer. She did graduate field studies in primatology in West Africa and participated in collecting amphibian specimens in the Peruvian Amazon for the Indianapolis Zoo. She is the co-owner of Liberated Horsemanship, LLC (LH), an International educational corporation. People from more than 20 countries have trained with LH.


Ryan Persinger, Missouri State Parks, Thousand Hills

Ryan Persinger graduated from Missouri Western State University with a degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management. Ryan has worked with Missouri State Parks since 2010 and has been the Park Superintendent at Thousand Hills State Park since 2018.


Dana Ripper, Missouri River Bird Observatory

Dana Ripper is a wildlife ecologist based in central Missouri.  She is the co-founder and executive director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of birds, all wildlife, and their habitats.  MRBO employs science, education, and policy advocacy to achieve its conservation mission.  Bird mortality caused by window collisions is one of MRBO’s three key advocacy issues, and light pollution is a major factor involved in collisions.  In 2019, MRBO partnered with JCCC and Burroughs Audubon Society to establish BirdSafeKC, a project to collect data on bird-window collisions and to advocate for mitigation measures in the KC metro area.  BirdSafeKC is a partner organization under the umbrella of Lights Out Heartland.   


Brett Seymoure, Ph.D., University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. Brett Seymoure is a visual ecologist who studies the role that both natural and artificial light play in animal visual systems, behavior, and community ecology. Brett dove into light pollution research during his first postdoc position with the National Park Service Night Sky division and Colorado State University. 


Stephanie Todd, IDA Missouri

Stephanie Todd is a retired research & development engineering manager who has always loved the great outdoors and wildlife.  Since she retired, Stephanie has leveraged her talents to support many environmental organizations.  She joined the IDA Missouri Chapter a couple years ago and is now on the Board for Missouri.

One of her first IDA-MO efforts was certifying Stacy Park in Olivette, Missouri, as an Urban Night Sky Place. This park was the fourth in the world to gain that designation.  After that, Stephanie became the primary contact to help parks and cities in Missouri gain certification as a Dark Sky Place.

Stephanie also serves on the executive committee of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club and is on their Conservation Committee.  In addition, she volunteers with the St. Louis Audubon Society and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. 

A few of Stephanie’s other activities include a St. Louis City effort to install low Kelvin LED streetlights and enrolling Building Partners and Program Partners for Lights Out Heartland.  She’s also an advocate to stop fogging (for mosquitoes) and is involved in the start-up of a grassroots sustainability advocacy group. 


Ken Walczak, Adler Planetarium in Chicago

Ken Walczak is the Senior Manager of Far Horizons at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago - a hands-on science, engineering and research program for students, volunteers and the public. He is a board member of the International Dark-Sky Association and an associate member of the IES. He has co-authored numerous papers on the sensing and characterization of light pollution with instruments designed with students and volunteers including; an inexpensive, all-sky imaging camera, a stratospheric light pollution mapping system and satellite concepts for the remote sensing of light at night.


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