December 2014 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update

Dear Friends, 


Welcome to the new North Central Region Water Network monthly e-newsletter. For those of you that are new to the Network, we are a 12-state collaboration between Extension water resource professionals and university, federal, state, NGO and industry partners. The Network is built on a hundred years of Extension education for the working families of America and over a decade of USDA-funded work through the Great Lakes, Heartland, and Northern Plains and Mountains Regional Water Programs. 


The newsletter will feature resources that our region's land-grant universities have to offer across the Midwest to address water-related issues and opportunities, such as this month's feature by Chris Hay (South Dakota State University) on drainage water management education for Natural Resources Conservation Service employees.


We hope you will take some time in the near future to get to know us better. Please visit our website, contribute to our blog, and participate in our webinar series. You may also want to join our mailing list for the latest news about the Network. Last but not least, be sure to read Extension Director Liaison Rick Klemme's introduction to the Network and request for your participation


Finally, for newsletter content suggestions, feel free to e-mail me. The Network functions best with your contributions.




Rebecca Power, Network Director

Network Initiatives
We are pleased to introduce the following 2014 North Central Region Water Network seed funded initiatives. Please take a few minutes to visit our website and learn more about these innovative projects.

Stormwater Core Course 

Project Leaders: 

Eleanor Burkett - Extension Educator, University of Minnesota

Shahram Missaghi, PhD - Extension Educator, University of Minnesota


Mentoring for Early Career Extension Educators: A Systems Approach to Nutrient Management

Project Leader:

Anne Baird - Program Director, The Ohio State University

Web-Based Environmental Assessment Tool Expansion

Project Leaders:  

Andrew Yencha - Natural Resources Educator, University of Wisconsin-Extension

Jeremiah Asher - Director of Information Technology, Institute of Water Research, Michigan State University

Visit our initiative page for project summaries. 
Leadership Spotlight: South Dakota State University Extension
Each month we call attention to a significant state-led project and associated leadership team member from our Network. These spotlights demonstrate the diversity of ongoing water research and outreach projects in our region. Please contact your state's North Central Region Water Network Leadership Team member for details on the projects in your area. 
Featured Project: NRCS Drainage Water Management Training
by Christopher Hay
SDSU Extension was privileged to lead a multi-state project responsible for training approximately 600 NRCS employees across the Upper Midwest. The NRCS Drainage Water Management Level II training was a collaborative effort among NRCS and Extension specialists in eight states in the North Central region to provide training on drainage water management to NRCS employees in ten states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin). Drainage water management is a practice to reduce nutrient losses from subsurface (tile) drained agricultural fields that contribute to Gulf of Mexico hypoxia. Increased adoption of the practice is a priority for NRCS, and additional training for its employees was seen as necessary to enable them to better market the practice to interested producers and their advisors.


The training used a hybrid approach to minimize travel costs to allow for training a greater number of employees. Eight online modules were developed by the Extension specialists and were required prerequisites to attend one-day onsite training sessions. The online modules covered topics including background information on drainage and water quality; land suitability for drainage water management; planning, design, operation, and management of drainage water management systems; and related practices. The onsite sessions then provided a review of the online modules, hands-on design exercises, and a field visit to an existing or potential drainage water management site. The sessions also provided training on NRCS-specific requirements for drainage water management plans.


The training is already reaping benefits through increased acreage enrollments in drainage water management plans. Within a few weeks of the Michigan training session, the NRCS State Hydrologist indicated that employees from the training were in the process of signing up clients for drainage water management and had started or scheduled surveys and designs. There are an estimated 31 million acres suitable for drainage water management in the North Central Region, and it is estimated that drainage water management can provide an average net reduction of nitrogen loads of 30% in the Midwest. Therefore, increased adoption of the practice provides an important contribution in reducing the overall nitrogen load delivered to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin.

Christopher Hay, PhD
Assistant Professor/Extension Water Management Engineer
South Dakota State University, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Chris Hay is an Assistant Professor and Extension Water Management Engineer in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University. His research and Extension programs are focused in the areas of agricultural hydrology and water management, particularly related to subsurface drainage. Chris is excited about the formation of the North Central Region Water Network because multi-state collaboration has been an important component of his career development. He believes the scale and complexity of many of the water issues facing society cannot be solved without multi-state collaboration, so a network such as this that can foster the development of those collaborations is an asset. 


More about Christopher Hay

The Current Webinar Series
Our webinar series is your connection to our Network and water outreach, research and collaboration efforts across the North Central Region. Designed for busy working professionals like yourself, the webinars are only an hour and won't take up much space on your calendar. We hope you will join the conversation. 

Please visit our webinar overview page for details on upcoming and past webinars. 

Upcoming Webinars:
  • Educating the Next Generation of Water Leaders -
    Coming Feb
  • Managing Agricultural Drainage Water -
    Coming April
Past Webinars:
If you happened to miss one of our webinars in 2014, be sure to visit our webinar archive page to get caught up on the latest from our Network. Thank you!

Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region - MOOC

Feb 23-March 31, 2015 | Online

From University of Wisconsin Madison

This 4-week course will feature a new season each week through short lectures and activities covering Great Lakes weather, observed changes in the climate, and societal impacts of climate change. Along with sharing our passion for weather and climate, we'll convey information from NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation initiative as well as findings from the recent National Climate Assessment and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI)... Event details


Reaching the Next Generation Through Fun and Interactive Activities - Webinar

Available Now! | Online

From Livestock and Poultry Environmental (LPE) Learning Center

Youth are an important audience for manure management professionals - they are the next generation of producers, consumers, and scientists (in other words, you!). Fairs, 4-H events, classroom visits are just a few of the numerous opportunities every year to share what we do, educate youth, and simply interact with people. However, coming up with
appropriate activities can be daunting. This webinar will share ideas and activities that have been used with youth across the country on manure, air quality, and sustainability. The range in activity complexity and experiences of the presenters will hopefully spur some creative ideas for your next event...
 Event details

Funding Opportunities

Great Lakes Protection Fund

Deadline: The Fund is open to project ideas and pre-proposals at any time.

The Great Lakes Protection Fund welcomes proposals for projects that enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and will return the greatest ecosystem benefits. The Fund supports teams that are testing catalytic innovations-new ways of doing new things-that change how people and institutions interact with the Lakes for the better.  More info


McKnight Foundation - Mississippi River Program

Deadlines: February 1 for May consideration, May 1 for August consideration, August 1 for November consideration, November 1 for February consideration

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we use our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve.  


Mississippi River Program Goal: to restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River.  More info

From Our Blog

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Workshop a Great Success

From The Ohio State University

In Columbus, OH, September 14-16, 100 invited participants from 12 states (AR, IL, IN, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NE, OH, TN, WI), the District of Columbia, and Canada attended the Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters workshop. There were 42 faculty and 15 graduate students from 15 universities; 24 people from local, state and federal government, 12 farmers and agricultural industry participants, 6 from environmental groups and foundations, and 1 participant from an agricultural journal. The workshop was organized by The Ohio State University, Greenleaf Advisors LLC and with sponsorship from Gypsoil LLC. The focus of the workshop was on reducing and preventing excess nutrient exports associated with crop production systems that are causing hypoxia and harmful algae blooms... Full post

Our Mission:

We work together to expand and enhance multi-state water outreach and research efforts across the North Central Region of the United States.

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