Read the latest water-related news and events!
Read the latest water-related news and events!
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
February 2023
Ducks swimming on a portion of a lake that is unfrozen in winter

Network News

While it might not feel like it at the moment, spring is on the horizon. As we get ready for field season we are gearing up for a number of exciting projects this year including planning a regional workshop for land-grant professionals focusing on climate, water, equity and opportunity, and an innovative communication campaign focusing on recruiting more farmer conservation leaders with our partners at Trust in Food, Purdue Extension and the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Stay tuned for more information on both!
We are also working with our partners at Iowa State and the Iowa Water Center to host a free virtual training on using the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) in Watershed Planning and Implementation at the end of March. If you are interested in learning more about the ACPF and using it in your work, you can learn more here.
Also, The Confluence for Watershed Leaders has announced the spring season of Life Hacks over Lunch - a free virtual monthly meet-up for watershed professionals to share ideas and advice. Tune in for the first hack session taking place on St. Patrick's Day!
-Joe Bonnell and Anne Nardi, North Central Region Water Network
Saturated buffer with a one-year-old prairie planting in Story County, Iowa
Saturated buffer with a one-year-old prairie planting in Story County, Iowa. NRCS/SWCS photo by Lynn Betts.
The Current Webinar Series
Communicating Edge-of-Field Practices to Landowners
Wednesday, March 8th at 2pm CT
As conservation and water professionals, we think a lot about how to effectively communicate conservation agriculture to producers and landowners. But how do we go about communicating edge-of-field practices where the benefit is largely downstream?

Tune into this edition of The Current Webinar Series as we hear about the latest research on landowner perceptions on constructed wetlands, riparian forest buffers, and more. We will also hear from folks working on the ground - what have they found works and what definitely doesn't? Join us! 

Women standing in the woods for a woodland education event

Leadership Spotlight
Launching the Women’s Woodland Stewardship Network to Support Women in Forestry

Story by Julia Baker

As I sat at home watching a webinar in October of 2020 about an Oregon State University Extension and Outreach program that supported female woodland owners through educational and networking opportunities, I thought to myself, “Would it be possible to have a program like this in Iowa?” Fortuitously, six months later I received an email from a partner at Missouri Extension and Outreach asking if Iowa was interested in joining them in offering programming for women who are woodland owners in the Midwest. My response was an enthusiastic yes!

As a Program Specialist for the Natural Resources Extension team at Iowa State University I was in the right position to launch the program. However, I needed to know if women in Iowa would be interested. An informal email survey sent out to members of the Iowa Woodland Owner’s Association produced multiple responses from female landowners across the state saying they would be eager to participate in women-centered forestry programming.
Read on
Sunset over a corn field

Network Spotlight
A complexity-aware understanding of climate-smart agricultural programming at Extension

A team of Extension personnel across the Midwest, in partnership with the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, aims to increase the adoption of regionally scalable climate-smart agriculture. The project, originally titled “Accelerating the transition to climate-smart strategies by bolstering the extension to Midwest Climate Hub connection,” has been nicknamed Climate Ready Midwest. 

The team is working to understand the conditions surrounding the topic. This effort is being undertaken by the team via an evaluative thinking process – creating a Theory of Change, or ToC. A ToC is a participatory approach to understanding the context around an identified topic and the change through time. In this project, the team will create a ToC for how Extension across the Midwest – including staff from 1862, 1890, and 1994 land-grant institutions – can develop climate-smart programming that enhances capacity for producers to adopt practices that are climate-informed.
 Read on

In The News

Upcoming Events
Agriculture Data Pilot Webinar
March 2nd at 1:00pm CT

In an exciting public-private partnership, the United States Department of Agriculture worked with Meridian Institute’s AGree Initiative and the University of Illinois to evaluate conservation and crop insurance data in six states (IA, IL, IN, MN, MO, and SD) affected by extremely wet spring weather in 2019. The pilot project sought to understand how cover crop and no-till practices, particularly when used for multiple years, impact whether a field was declared “prevented plant” for 2019. A webinar will be held this March 2nd as they discuss the results of the pilot project that sought to understand how cover crop and no-till practices impact whether a field was declared a “prevented plant”. 
Register here
2023 Great Lakes Conference
March 7th

The 33rd annual Great Lakes conference will be held virtually on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 and will feature two themes with three presentations per theme as well as a panel discussion with Q/A from participants. The themes are Fisheries Management in the Great Lakes and Great Lakes Islands. The day will also feature a presentation on PFAS in Great Lakes Fish.
 Register here
13th Annual St.Louis River Summit
March 8-10th

The 13th Annual St.Louis River Summit is back and most of this event will be held at the Yellowjacket Union on the campus of UW-Superior. The Summit program will begin with a half day virtual program on March 8 and will move into two full days of in-person sessions on March 9 and 10 at the Yellowjacket Union. The Summit features a single main session track of speakers as well as an evening poster session and a River Talk. Learn more
Lessons learned from on-farm cover crop research in Nebraska
March 15th at 2:00pm CT
The Soil Health Nexus is hosting a series of informal soil health webinars featuring Extension soil health experts and researchers from across the region discussing the latest soil health research, resources, and news. The next monthly webinar of the Soil Health Digital Cafe series will be held on March 15th at 2PM CT featuring Andrea Basche & students from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln discussing the impacts of cover crops on soil properties, nutrient cycling and more. Register here
Life Hacks Over Lunch: A Meet-up Series for Watershed Professionals
March 17th at 11:30am CT

This free, virtual meet-up series is a peer-learning opportunity for watershed professionals to share ideas and advice for solving real-life challenges of watershed projects. If you work with farmers and communities on watershed-scale projects to improve water quality and have ever found yourself thinking, “I don’t want to recreate the wheel,” this meet-up series is for you. In each meet-up, one person kicks things off by presenting a challenge they’re experiencing in their watershed work for the group to “hack.” Conversation, collaboration, and commiseration will ensue. Learn more

Funding and Opportunities
EPA Fellowship with the National Nonpoint Source Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Nonpoint Source Management Branch (Clean Water Act Section 319 program) expects to hire two ORISE participants. These ORISE participants will provide research support across a varied nonpoint source (NPS) topic areas: (1) research and analysis to support the Clean Water Act Section 319 NPS Program, including national-scale research on state NPS management strategies, watershed-scale conservation practices, and evaluating water quality results in proposed NPS success stories, (2) support for EPA's work with partners to manage nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin, including research and outreach related to the Hypoxia Task Force efforts, (3) programmatic and technical research to support EPA's Healthy Watersheds Protection Program, and (4) research and data analyses to support partnership work between EPA's Nonpoint Source and State Revolving Funds programs. This announcement is open through March 24. Learn more
North Central Region SARE administers several grant programs, each with specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. Professional Development Program Grant and Graduate Student Grant are currently open for training agricultural educators and graduate student projects. Learn more
Request for Proposals: Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program
The Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program has provided grants to reduce nutrients and sediments entering the Great Lakes for more than 30 years. This year’s program will continue to help local partners take action to reduce nutrient loads from agricultural watersheds and eroding shorelines and streambanks in the Great Lakes basin. Applicants are invited to submit proposals for activities associated with one of the following project types: agricultural non-point, or shoreline and streambanks. The due date for applications is 5:00 p.m. Eastern on April 21, 2023. Learn more
Climate Extension Field Specialist
South Dakota State University Extension is searching for an Extension Climate Field Specialist I.  This is a 12-month, full-time, benefit-eligible position available in one of their regional extension centers located in either Watertown, Mitchell, or Pierre, SD. This position is supervised by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Leader and is affiliated with the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Learn more

Lake Superior researcher helps communities better understand harmful algal blooms
Research published in the scientific journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters and led by scientist Dr. Kait Reinl, Research Coordinator at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve in Superior, WI, challenges current understandings of harmful algae blooms and may help communities better prepare for them. Read more
Seize The Carbon with CaRPE, A Tool for Meeting Climate-Smart Agriculture Goals
American Farmland Trust has developed the Carbon Reduction Potential Evaluation (CaRPE) Tool in collaboration with USDA Agricultural Research Service to help communities and states set achievable targets for climate change mitigation from their ag sectors. CaRPE pulls together the best available science on greenhouse gas emissions, reductions, and soil organic carbon sequestration on US farmland to produce carbon reduction estimates. Read more
Growing Connections: New app creates soil health social network
A new app from the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition aims to make it easier to reach out to fellow farmers and soil health experts. Growing Connections, accessible as a smart phone app and from a web browser, is like a social network focused on soil health. Users can post questions about no-till practices and cover crops, for example, and get feedback from those with experience. They can participate in group discussions or reach out directly to a mentor who has expertise in a certain practice or knowledge of a particular region of the state. Read more
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