December 2015 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update
In a week or so, I will be headed south for a short winter break - crossing the Mighty Mississippi at St. Louis, skirting the Ozarks, and landing on the Gulf Coast at Padre Island National Seashore.  There will be familiar faces there - widgeon, teal, sandhill cranes, house wrens, and other birds that know better than to brave a Wisconsin winter - even in a warmer-than-average El Niño year!  How fortunate I feel to be able to follow the smallest of sparrows and one of our nation's most important natural arteries to a new place, with new sights, sounds, and stories to enrich life at home.

However, before I leave the snow flurries behind, I get to take stock of the year through annual reporting. Annual reporting is not high on my list of holiday cravings (okay, it's not on the list at all).  However, it is a time for reflection, time to take stock of what the North Central Region Water Network and our partners have accomplished in 2015. Reviewing the calendar and reports from each completed project reminds me how much I have much to be thankful for, even if my kayak never touches the salty Laguna Madre. There's too much to list here, so I'll just refer you to the Network's Initiatives , Resources, and Webinars pages for more information.

I also encourage you to read Dan Devlin's Kansas State University highlight in this newsletter. The Kansas State Extension Watershed Specialist program is one of many examples of how Extension takes a systems approach to complex problems like water, providing everything from one-on-one education to water quality monitoring to assistance with BMP implementation, to documenting pollution reductions. K-State specialists and educators collaborate with Kansas Department of Health and Environment, agricultural groups, and farmers to get the job done. In true John Dewey fashion, research and education are tools for individual and public good. They are employed purposefully by talented and committed people to make the world a better place.

So as 2015 comes to a close, thanks to all of you who are giving so much for your communities and the water resources on which they depend. Happy holidays and warmest wishes for the new year.

Important Item:

Save the Date! The North Central Region Water Network's second  conference and
regional working session will be March 21-23, 2016 in Lincoln, NE.  Theme: "From Science to Success." More details coming soon!


Rebecca Power, Network Director


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Network Initiatives
Visit our  Network Initiatives Page for more information on previous and current initiatives, and future funding opportunities. 

Multi-State Water Rocks! Youth Education Summit


Established in 2011, Water Rocks! is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) youth water education program that seeks to raise the environmental literacy of our youth before they are in a position to make decisions. Through an integration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the arts, Water Rocks! challenges and inspires young people to think, learn and create in a world where boundaries are as blurry as the flow of water within a watershed. Water Rocks! seeks to extend the program beyond traditional youth classroom educators and the state of Iowa to partnering extension youth educators in Illinois, Missouri, and South Dakota, delivered via a 2-day Multi-State Water Rocks! Youth Education Summit. 


Expanding the reach of this program across the North Central Region will enhance extension educators' abilities to deliver outdoor and place-based youth education, while improving extension educator knowledge of and access to youth-tested and -approved environmental education tools, including technology and hands-on activities, to engage young people in discussion and activities related to water issues across the North Central Region. On the longer term, youth will demonstrate a higher level of water literacy, and in turn, greater understanding and willingness to make responsible future decisions that protect water and soil resources in the North Central Region and beyond. 


The Water Rocks! Extension Educator Summit will be modeled after the non-formal educator Water Rocks! Winter Summit scheduled for December 2015. This is a 1-day professional development workshop that offers training for non-formal educators on a multitude of hands-on, interactive educational modules to help teach classroom lessons on water, soil, agriculture, environmental science, and more. Attendees will also have the opportunity to further their technical understanding of agricultural and environmental issues related to these topics through presentations and networking with several Iowa State University faculty and staff working in these fields. 

All Summit participants completed a pre-event and post-event self-evaluation, indicating their knowledge and/or comfort related to different environmental topics and teaching these concepts. Teachers came in not having an extensive background knowledge of water quality, soil health, and Iowa's ecosystems, with an average pre-assessment score of 56/100 (n=55). After participating in the Summit, teachers' proficiency and understanding of water quality, soil, health, and environmental issues saw substantial improvement, with an average post-assessment score of 81/100 (n=55). 

Project Director: 
Jacqueline Comito, Director, Water Rocks!
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 

Christine Wood, 4-H STEM Field Specialist
SDSU Extension


Leadership Spotlight:  Kansas State University

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. 

The Kansas State Extension Watershed Specialist program began in 2000 as a partnership between the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas State Research and Extension, and agricultural groups.
This partnership assigned specialists to high-priority watersheds. The specialists work closely with local Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) groups developing and implementing watershed plans to improve surface water quality and to meet state water quality standards. Currently five specialists serve the state.  In 2015, a program evaluation was conducted to determine 2010-2014 accomplishments and impact.
Information and Education Accomplishments

*One-on-One On-Farm Consultations: extension professionals provided one-on-one consultations to 1,330 cooperators, assisting them in developing water quality plans, obtaining financial assistance and providing them with technical assistance.
*Providing Education and Awareness:  research results and recommendations for improving water quality were presented at 1,616 educational events, making over 91,000 contacts. 282 oral presentations, posters, and/or displays were presented on water issues.   There were also 60 radio and television interviews.

*Conservation Practice Surveys: In cooperation with the NRCS, County Conservation Districts, other KSU extension personnel, tillage practices were assessed on 12,883 fields.
*Water monitoring:  2,297 water samples were collected and analyzed for pollutant information. 
*Faculty provided assistance in developing and implementing22 EPA-approved 9-element watershed plans.
BMP Implementation
*Implementation of 861 cropland BMPs, affecting 148,699 acres.  Specific cropland BMPs implemented during this 5-year span included:
  • Implementation of atrazine herbicide related BMPs on 110,196 acres
  • 374,000 linear feet of terraces were installed or reconstructed
  • 19 waterways were built or maintained
  • 6 buffer strips were installed affecting over 132 acres
  • 140 acres of contour buffer strips
  • 6 diversions were
  • 3 Water/Sediment Control Basins
  • Over 15,000 acres of conservation crop rotation
  • Nearly 6,000 acres of no-till  

*Twelvestreambank stabilization projects were installed, stabilizing over 4,500 linear feet of streambank. 

* Five poultry litter storage sites were installed, affecting 1,954 acres. 

*Implementation of 382 livestock related BMPs, affecting 34,618 animal units and 6,678 acres.   Livestock BMPs implemented included:
  • 98 livestock waste management and storage systems
  • 121 alternative watering facilities
  • 41 pipeline BMPs, resulting in 191,400 feet of pipeline
  • 44 fencing BMPs, resulting in 51,800 feet of fence
  • 28 heavy use area protection BMPs resulting over 72,000 square feet
  • 9 livestock exclusion BMPS resulting in over 12,800 feet
  • 11 ponds were installed or renovated
  • 5 access roads were constructed resulting in 15,900 feet
  • 8 prescribed grazing BMPs 
* Installation of 11 on-site waste water systems and 4 water wells.
Pollutant Load Reductions
Load reductions for cropland, streambank and livestock implemented BMPs were calculated by the state regulatory agency (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) using the EPA Region 5 model with the exception of atrazine herbicide, which was calculated using KSU model predictions.  Average annual total pollutant load reductions directly due to extension programming for BMPs implemented in Kansas from 2010-2014 were:
  • Nitrogen - 373,315 lbs/year
  • Phosphorus - 138,970 lbs/year
  • Sediment - 12,220 tons/year
  • Atrazine - 6,146 lbs a.i.
Daniel L. Devlin, Kansas State University
Director, Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment and   Kansas Water Resources Institute

Dr. Devlin is the Director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment and the Kansas Water Resources Institute and, also, a Professor of Agronomy. His responsibilities include coordinating and enhancing research, extension, and teaching initiatives pertaining to new and emerging environmental issues from an agricultural perspective. His goals include fostering holistic, interdisciplinary research and education required to solve agriculturally related environmental problems; providing for understanding of environmental issues in relation to agricultural production systems with a target audience of the agricultural community and the broader public; and developing relationships with agencies, organizations, and foundations to foster resource development for interdisciplinary and integrated research, extension, and teaching initiatives among faculty.

Daniel L. Devlin
(785) 532-0393 (office)
(785) 532-9351 (cell)

Our  w ebinar 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. 

Past Webinars:
The Current 14
Innovations in Stormwater Management - November 18, 2015:   Watch Now
  • Shahram Missaghi, Extension Educator, Water Resource Management and Policy, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Eleanor Burkett, Extension Educator, Water Resource Management and Policy, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Katie Pekarek, Extension Educator, Water Quality, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The Current 13
Farmer Leadership in Watershed Management  - October 21, 2015:  Watch Now
  • Lois Wright-Morton, Professor of Sociology, Iowa State University,  Watershed Groups as Catalysts: Intersection of Science and Values
  • Julia Olmstead, Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Extension,  Early Insights from Wisconsin's Farmer-led Watershed Councils
  • Todd Sutphin, Operations Manager, Iowa Soybean Association,  Watershed Planning: A Farmer-led Perspective
The Current 12
Citizen Water Quality Monitoring  - September 16, 2015:  Watch Now
  • Matt Young, Illinois RiverWatch Coordinator, Overview of Citizen Monitoring
  • Peggy Doty, Illinois Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship
  • Ilana Haimes, UW-Extension Program Assistant, Making the Connection Between Citizen Monitoring and Nutrient Related Water Quality Outreach
The Current 11
Agricultural Irrigation Management - August 19, 2015: Watch Now
  • Joshua Stamper, Irrigation Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota,  Validating Variable Rate Irrigation Prescriptions
  • John Panuska, Natural Resource and Bio Environmental Engineer, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Becky Larson, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison,  Irrigation Activities in Wisconsin
  • Joshua Stamper, Irrigation Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota,  Outcomes from Irrigation Capacity Building Workshop for Irrigation Professionals in the North Central Region 
    The Current 10
    Harmful Algal Blooms - July 15, 2015:  Watch Now
  • Chris Winslow, Interim Director, Ohio Sea Grant College Program:  Harmful Algal Blooms: What are they? Where do they come from? What are we doing in HAB research? 
  • Greg LaBarge, Ohio State University Extension:  OSU Nutrient Management Outreach Education Programs Addressi ng Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie
  • Sonia Joseph Joshi, Center for Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NOAA's Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting Products
The Current 9
Application of Cover Crops in the Midwestern U.S. - June 17, 2015: Watch Now
  • Dr. Dean Baas, Senior Research Associate, Michigan State University Extension: 
    The Midwest Cover Crops Council - A regional collaboration that works
  • Dr. Tom Kaspar, Plant Physiologist, USDA-ARS, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment:  Effect of cover crops on nitrogen in tile drainage
  • Dr. Matt Ruark, Assistant Professor and Extension Soil Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Cover crops after fall manure application
The Current 8
Managing Agricultural Drainage Water - May 13, 2015 Watch Now
  • Jane Frankenberger, Professor Agricultural & Biological Engineering Purdue University: " Managing Water for Increased Resiliency of Drained Agricultural Landscapes"
  • Chris Hay, Assistant Professor and Extension Water Management Engineer in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University: "Managed/Controlled Drainage for Production and Environment"
  • Richard Cooke, Associate Professor Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:  "Incorporating Uncertainty into Bioreactor Design"
The Current 7
Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit - April 15, 2015:  Watch Now
  • Kristine Tidgren, Staff Attorney for Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, will offer a legal analysis of issues surrounding the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit and discuss implications for agriculture and water resource management.
The Current 6
Generations of Water Leaders - February 18, 2015:  Watch Now
  • Elizabeth Juchems, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach -Water Rocks!: Making a Splash with Youth Water Education
  • Kate Reilly, University of Wisconsin-Extension - ThinkWater, The Next Big Thing in Water (Thinking) Just Got Bigger!
  • Catherine Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Extension - G-WOW: Gikinoo'wizhiwe Onji Waaban(Guiding for Tomorrow) Changing Climate, Changing Culture - A Model and Tools for Increasing Climate Change Literacy

If you happened to miss one of our webinars in 2014 or 2015, be sure to visit our webinar archive page to get caught up on the latest from our Network. You can also view these by going directly to our NEW NCRWN YouTube Page.   Thank you!

Soil Water Sensors for Agriculture - Theory and Issues
Webinar: January 14, 2016
The presentation will cover the types of sensors available, the operational theory of each sensor type, and explanations, with examples, of how the physical theory of operation dictates the limits of sensor calibration and performance, and of sensor representativeness in given soils. Learn more here. 

From Science to Success: Bridging the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice in Water Resource Management
Lincoln, Nebraska: March 21-23, 2016
Save the date for the North Central Region Water Network's 2016 Conference "From Science to Success." Check back for details Learn more here. 
Funding Opportunities
NOAA Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Regional Partnership Grants
Deadline: February 2, 2016
Projects funded through NOAA have strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components that provide social and economic benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements. NOAA seeks to openly compete funding available for multi-year Great Lakes regional habitat restoration partnerships. Partnerships will result in implementation of a wide-range of individual habitat restoration projects focused in U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) ( with funds provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  More info here.

National Competitive Hypoxia Programs: The Northern Gulf of Mexico EcoSystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program
Deadline: January 22, 2016
The Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), develops and improves predictive capabilities for managing the Nation's use of its coastal resources through competitive research programs. NCCOS/CSCOR also supports efforts to translate the results of its research investments, and those of others, into accessible and useful information for coastal managers, planners, lawmakers, and the public to help balance the needs of economic growth with those of conserving the resources of our Nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.

FY16 Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) 
Deadline: February 8, 2016
The NOAA Office of Education has issued a competitive funding opportunity for education projects designed to strengthen the public's and/or K-12 students' environmental literacy to enable informed decision-making necessary for community resilience to extreme weather events and other environmental hazards. Successful projects will advance NOAA's mission and build the environmental literacy necessary for community resilience by focusing on geographic awareness and an understanding of Earth systems and the threats and vulnerabilities that are associated with a community's location. Eligible applicants are limited to institutions of higher education; other nonprofits, including informal education institutions such as museums, zoos, and aquariums; K-12 public and independent schools and school systems; and state, local and Indian tribal governments in the United States. Proposed projects should be between two and five years in duration and have total budget requests of $250,000 to $500,000 for all years of the project. More info here. 
In Case You Missed it...
The Current Webinar 14: Innovations in Stormwater Management

  • Eleanor Burkett, Extension Educator, Water Resource Management and Policy, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Shahram Missaghi, Extension Educator, Water Resource Management and Policy, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Katie Pekarek, Extension Educator, Water Quality, University of Nebraska-Lincoln  Watch Now
View my videos on YouTube


NCRWN Fact Sheet

Want to see what we have been up to in the North Central Region Water Network? Check out our new fact sheet for more details. 


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