The latest water-related news, funding and events!
The latest water-related news, funding and events!
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
February 2021
Frost in trees
Network News
As I rounded the first corner on my morning walk this morning, I could feel the warmth of the morning sun on my face. A few of my neighbors were venturing out again, too. I had been seeing their Super Bowl hats, their balaclavas, their winter scarves of either tattered vintage or business casual for weeks, but their faces were largely hidden. Though I’ve learned to spot kind smiles behind facemasks, seeing them meant as much to me as the warm breeze and the sound of the melting snow.
I started out my career wanting to spend more time in the woods or on the water than with people. Early on I caught a small glimpse of what indigenous communities have been saying since time immemorial - the ongoing renewal of the bonds between people and the planet are critical for us and the earth.

The strengthening healthy bonds between people – farmers and anglers, farmers and agribusiness, food processors and food consumers, all these groups (and many more) and government - are some of the most important opportunities for positive change that we have. 

It is encouraging to see more work centering on the health and well-being of people and communities, where communities include 1) groups who have been excluded and disenfranchised for generations, and 2) the soil, water, plants, animals, and air that surround us and make our lives possible. 

There is more going on than I can do justice to, but I want highlight an example the North Central Region Water Network has been part of - Leadership for Midwestern Watersheds, led by Sand County Foundation in collaboration with the Network, recently released the results of a survey of over 100 watershed leaders in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. These watershed leaders are essential touchstones as we strive for healthy, vibrant communities that are more resilient in the face of flooding, drought, extreme winter weather, and yes, even global pandemics. 

Also - if you did not get a chance to participate in the February edition of The Current, I’d encourage you to take a few moments to listen to Dr. Daniel Wildcat, Dr. Christina Gish Hill, and Derrick Kapayou as they discuss indigenous perspectives on water. They highlight the importance of understanding the “worldview water” we are swimming in, and the critical importance of water education that recognizes water as inseparable from life.  

Be well,
Rebecca Power, Director, North Central Region Water Network
The Current
rought Scenario Planning Interactive Guide

March 10, 2021 at 2pm CT

This month’s webinar will showcase the work of the North Central Region Water Network’s drought team! The team, led by the National Drought Mitigation Center, worked to develop an interactive guide to help Extension professionals and communities better plan for droughts. This user-friendly interactive website helps educators and communities understand, plan and prepare for future drought. Tune in to hear about this new resource! Register Here
 Everett Johnson (ISU Animal Ecology Senior) stands on the downstream side of an active beaver dam.
Forests and woodlands may not be among the first things that come to mind when people think about what grows in Iowa. But according to Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist at Iowa State University, forests hold more value and potential than Iowans often realize. “Forests are important for many reasons, including water quality improvement, wildlife, timber and aesthetics, and we need to be promoting them more,” Beck said. Read more
Aerial image of agricultural lands

Network Spotlight

FIVE Reasons to follow along with FEWscapes

FEWscapes is a research and engagement project led by scientists and educators at UW-Madison to advance knowledge and support decision-making for food, energy, water, and ecosystem security in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The North Central Region Water Network is a partner on the project and is leading the project's stakeholder engagement efforts. Learn more about the project, and how you can follow-along on their new website. Learn more 

Harmful Algal Bloom

Upcoming Webinar
Identifying and Monitoring Harmful Algal Blooms
March 3, 2021 at 2pm CT

The Network's Algal Bloom Team is hosting a webinar series as a follow-up to January’s virtual symposium. The first webinar will be held March 3, 2021 at 2pm CT and will feature Chris Jones of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa and Greg Druschel of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis who will discuss the latest research on identifying and monitoring harmful algal blooms. Register

In The News

Upcoming Events
SWCS Michigan Chapter ANR Webinar
March 2-3, 2021

Farming systems are complex physical and biological systems integrating fieldwork, crop rotations, nutrient cycling, pest regulation, and other interactions. Some producers are redesigning their cropping systems guided by agro-ecological principles whereby soil health and essential ecological services accrue in mutually supportive ways. They are actively involved in devising, testing, and evaluating new and innovative practices on their farms, not just adopting introduced technologies. Conference attendees will learn from university research and field experience; local intergovernmental organization project experience; and producer innovation and networking experience. Learn more

Equitable Access to Cooperative Extension Services for Indigenous Communities: Implications for the North Central Region
March 3, 2021

The North Central Region of the United States is home to thirty-seven Land Grant Universities. The 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities represent twenty of these institutions and serve as a critical element of achieving the mission of the Land Grant in terms of teaching, research, and Extension. To strengthen the collaboration among the Land Grant institutions in the North Central Region, the North Central Regional center for Rural Development is hosting an interactive webinar. Learn more

Second Annual Panhandle Soil Health Workshop
March 5, 2021

The second annual Panhandle Soil Health Workshop sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center will be an online event for ag producers, consultants, and others in the region. Speakers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and the University of Wyoming, as well as producers, will present soil health, soil health programs, and management practices that affect soil health in the region. Learn more
Great Lakes Conference
March 9, 2021
This free online interactive conference will feature talks and an extended question period on topics such as Bottom-up and invasive species-mediated changes to Lake Michigan’s food web; Interactions of three invasive species on Lake Michigan spawning reefs; and Tribal operations of raising and releasing lake whitefish and cisco in Lake Michigan. Learn more
Screening & Discussion Keepers of the Water
March 18, 2021

Water@UW will be hosting a screening and discussion of Keepers of the Water, a documentary about a diverse coalition of environmental activists that defeated the Exxon and Rio Algom proposed copper-zinc metallic sulfide mine and toxic waste dump at the headwaters of the Mahwāēw- Sēpēw (Menominee)/Wolf River (English translation), in Crandon, Wisconsin. Learn more
Program Manager, Water Quality Programs at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
The Program Manager, Water Quality Programs, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), will coordinate and manage a creative, innovative, and multidisciplinary water quality program. ISU is an international leader in extension, outreach, and research related to how agriculture intersects with natural resource concerns and has numerous faculty and staff from multiple departments working on this interface. Applications are due February 28, 2021. Learn more

Assistant Dean, Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy
The Assistant Dean (Program Leader) for Natural Resources, Environment and Energy (NREE) serves as a regular, full time, 12-month academic professional with primary responsibility for leading and developing statewide educational programming in energy and environment, air, land, and water, forestry, wildlife, outdoor economy, and systems that support these critical areas for the Illinois food, agriculture, and outdoor industry. The Assistant Dean for NREE serves as the Associate Director of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) and oversees the University of Illinois Arboretum and the Energy Education Council (EEC). Applications are due March 12th. Learn more
Soil Health and Water Quality Specialist
Sand County Foundation (SCF) is seeking a Soil Health and Water Quality Speciaslit. SCF is a national nonprofit working at the intersection of agricultural and environmental improvement. We research and demonstrate conservation strategies that make economic sense for landowners, and advance conservation policy improvements. The person hired for this exciting and challenging new position will provide technical support—both in the field and at the desk—for SCF’s Agricultural Conservation team’s projects.Applications will be reviewed beginning March 19, 2021, but the position will remain open until filled. Learn more

NCR-SARE Announces 2021 Call for Professional Development Program Grant Proposals
The 2021 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program’s (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Program call for proposals is now available. Projects can be up to three years in duration, and funding level is capped at $90,000 for each project, but projects requesting less than full amount are encouraged. Approximately $1,080,000 will be available for funding projects. NCR-SARE will be accepting online proposal submissions using our online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals. Proposals are due at 4pm CT on March 31, 2021. Learn more
Farmer-led Conservation and Watershed Protection Mini-Grant Program
The 2021 Farmer-led Conservation & Watershed Protection Mini-Grant Applications are now live! This mini-grant program will support nongovernmental organizations, state or county government agencies, university Extension professionals, and others who support farmers in one or more of the 12 SERA-46/Hypoxia Task Force states in the Mississippi River Basin: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Applications are due April 30th. Learn more

Can Cover Crops Reduce Nitrate Loss in Tile Drainage? - University of Minnesota Crop News
Nitrate loss in surface water and groundwater is an increasingly important water quality and environmental issue in Minnesota. An ongoing study at the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center (SROC) in Waseca is looking at whether planting cover crops is a viable strategy to reduce nitrate loss in agricultural tile drainage systems. Read on
NWC, IANR partner to lead Water and Integrated Cropping Systems (WICS) Hub - University of Nebraska IANR News
It started on the back of the proverbial envelope. That is where Dr. Ron Yoder, senior associate vice chancellor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), began to sketch two overlapping circles. A few years ago, Yoder was tasked with bringing together the university’s dispersed water community – starting within IANR. Read on
No-till Practices in Vulnerable Areas Significantly Reduce Soil Erosion - ACES News University of Illinois
URBANA, Ill. – Soil erosion is a major challenge in agricultural production. It affects soil quality and carries nutrient sediments that pollute waterways. While soil erosion is a naturally occurring process, agricultural activities such as conventional tilling exacerbate it. Farmers implementing no-till practices can significantly reduce soil erosion rates, a new University of Illinois study shows. Read on

A Tale of Two Cities That Are Partnering with Farmers to Meet Nutrient Reduction Goals - North Central Region Water Network Blog
On the landscape of innovation for improving water quality are public-private partnerships between point sources, such as cities and sewerage districts, and nonpoint sources, particularly farmers, working at a scale that crosses land-use zones: the watershed. Two places where such partnerships are happening are Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Madison, Wisconsin. Read on
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