Happy Holiday! Read the last edition of The Drop for 2020.
Happy Holiday! Read the last edition of The Drop for 2020.
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
December 2020 
Farm field in snow

A Note from our Director

Normally, December is not the best time to be on a Lake Michigan beach. Of course, 2020 is not a normal year. Today, so close to the winter solstice, the temperature is nearly 40 with a gentle west wind allowing the shoreline some much-needed rest. I am on the beach to watch the 'Great Conjunction' of Jupiter and Saturn and get a breather myself. As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect time to be on the beach, listening to the waves and watching the stars (and planets) come alive.

We could all use a breather from 2020. Our hearts go out to all of you who have lost loved ones this year. Our hearts go out to those of you who have lost jobs, who are trying to home school children and work at the same time, who are alone and missing contact with friends and family.

While we hope to turn a new page in 2021, I am reminded of an Irish saying that poet David Whyte sometimes shares, “The thing about the past is that it isn’t the past.” Come January 1, there is no erasing the traumas and tragedies, no magic switch to be flipped to bring life 'back to normal.' The past stays with us, and we have a lot to learn from it. 

We hope 2021 can be a time of healing and the memories of 2020 can serve as a reminder that we have important work to do together. That we can grow food, provide clean drinking water, and support good jobs for families at the same time. That we can invest in infrastructure; the health and wellbeing of our people; the environment; and the arts with the same dollars if we plan for all these goals in an inclusive and equitable way. That our common interests and values make us strong, and our differences can be assets rather than stumbling blocks. 

The North Central Region Water Network strives to support these conversations, and we appreciate all the support you’ve shown for us during 2020. We wish you all the warmth and joy this holiday season can bring and look forward to seeing you again in 2021.

-Rebecca Power, Network Director

P.S. Want your water questions answered by colleagues? Use the North Central Region Water Network listserv to get answers quickly. To subscribe, email 

Last Chance to Register

Virtual Harmful Algal Bloom Symposium 
January 6-7, 2021

Join the Network's Harmful Algal Bloom team for their Virtual Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium. Hear emergent harmful algal bloom (HAB) research and discuss HAB ideas, research, and outreach. 
Registration closes Wednesday, December 23rd at 5 pm CT. Space is filling up fast so be sure to register before it's too late. Register

Leadership Spotlight

Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program Challenges Participants to Learn About Their Own Backyard

There is a famous quote from Baba Dioum those in the natural resources field know well: "In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; we will understand only what we are taught." For Anne Baird, that couldn’t be more true. Baird directs the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program for Ohio State University Extension. The program provides citizens across Ohio with an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills of Ohio’s environment and natural history and then apply that knowledge through service to local parks, museums, nature centers, and arboretums. Read on

By Tracy Chaplin, Co-Nexio Founder and Principal  
I was facilitating a three-day engagement with the Watershed Leaders Network. The conversation was lively, with farmers eagerly sharing challenges, innovative ideas, and new possibilities. Near the end, a bright, young watershed coordinator approached me. He was dumbfounded: why could he barely get farmers to talk in his watershed work, when I could hardly get them to stop talking in this workshop? Read on

In The News

Upcoming Events
Regional Climate Data and Information Services: Virtual Workshop
January 26-28, 2021
This workshop will discuss some of the climate information products and services the Midwest Regional Climate Center provides and address questions. It will also help the MRCC learn how you use climate information so they might enhance their products and services to better meet your climate needs. To minimize Zoom overload, the workshop format will be several short (~1-1.5 hrs) topical sessions and roundtables over the three days, each recorded for later viewing/listening. Contact mrcc-events@isws.illinois.edu with questions.
Nebraska Cover Crop & Soil Health Conference
February 11, 2021

The 2021 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference features innovative speakers who have worked with cover crops extensively and will share what they have learned. This is your opportunity to get your questions answered. How can you get started with cover crops in your corn/soybean rotation? Already using cover crops - could you be doing it better? There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil heath and reduced erosion. It’s the details of how and what to do that can present challenges. The focus of the conference is to provide information to growers who are in a corn/soybean rotation and to assist them in understanding the value of cover crops. Learn more

Farming for the Future: A Forum Exploring Ecosystem Markets
February 12, 2021

Join the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership and organizations from Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin for a free, national webinar exploring different environmental and carbon market opportunities for Midwest farmers. This event brings four prominent carbon markets to one table, Indigo Ag, Nori, Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, and the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, providing farmers a side-by-side comparison of opportunities. Presentations will walk the audience through the process of program enrollment from start to finish, highlighting key contract terms and conditions, payment schedules, and verification requirements. Learn more
Nutrient Management Conference
February 16, 2021
The University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center’s Nutrient Management Conference brings experts together to focus on nutrient management. Current topics in crop production and environmental stewardship will be relevant and informative for today's agricultural producers and professionals and anyone else who appreciates high-quality, research-based information. Learn more
76th SWCS International Annual Conference Call for Presentations Now Open
The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) invites the submission of live demos, virtual tours, field days, workshops, oral presentations, symposia, and posters for the 76th SWCS International Annual Conference, taking place virtually, July 26-28, 2021. The submission deadline is February 17, 2021. Learn more
FY 2020 Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Water Quality and Enable Small Public Water Systems to Provide Safe Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting applications under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) from eligible applicants as described in Section III.A of the announcement to provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems, small publicly-owned wastewater systems, communities served by onsite/decentralized wastewater systems, and private drinking water well owners. Applications are due February 12, 2021. Learn more 
NRCS Soil Conservationist
The incumbent will serve as a Soil Conservationist assisting the field offices and staff in developing and implementing a comprehensive natural resource conservation program throughout the geographic area of responsibility by providing technical guidance and evaluation on matters related to the Farm Bill Programs and Conservation Program contracting and implementation. Applications are due January 4, 2021. Learn more
Program Director - Agriculture and Natural Resources
SDSU Extension is offering an exciting career opportunity as the Program Director- Agriculture and Natural Resources. We are looking for a creative and innovative professional who is skilled in providing leadership for the creation and implementation of a collective vision pertaining to the educational outreach we do with individuals, farmers, ranchers, agriculture industry professionals, commodity groups, and state agency collaborators in the areas of agronomy, livestock, agricultural economics, natural resource management, ag engineering, water management and climate adaptation. Applications are due January 29, 2021. Learn more
How Can We Measure the Profitability of Soils? There's a New Guide For That - Environmental Defense Fund Blog
Any investment, from Wall Street to a local park, requires investors to establish expectations for the costs, benefits, and timing. They dedicate significant resources to researching and identifying these expectations to optimize their investment decision. Investing in soil health should be no different. Read on
Rethinking Water Management With Rain Gardens - The Daily Cardinal
Understanding the unique behavior of water in urban areas begins with understanding two fundamentals. First, hydrogen bonding between atoms makes water molecules stick to one another (cohesion) and other charged surfaces (adhesion). Second, water is polar, making it a “universal solvent.” These properties are essential to life on Earth but sometimes make water difficult to manage. Read on
New Nutrient Tapping Program Takes Off - Great Lakes Echo
A newly funded project in Ohio’s Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District aims to reduce water nutrients and sediments that flow into Lake Erie, causing excessive growth of algae. With a bit of help, the Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program provides grants to local and state governments and nonprofit organizations to install erosion and sediment control practices in the Great Lakes Basin. Read on

DNR Announces Action Plan to Address PFAS Contamination in Wisconsin - Milwaukee Journal Sentinal 
The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday sent a plan to Gov. Tony Evers for addressing the "forever chemicals" present across the state. The PFAS Action Plan was developed over the past year, building on work already being done by the DNR and other state agencies to track, contain and research the chemicals. Read on
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