February 2015 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update


Water, Extension, and You


Yesterday I attended the Midwest Manure Summit - an excellent program put on by the University of Wisconsin-Extension. While many attendees were Wisconsinites, folks came from as far away as the country of Denmark!


In an era where disagreements about water resource management are common and sometimes heated, the Summit was a place where everyone was in the same room trying to keep farms profitable and conserve water resources for future generations.

Presenters were from universities, federal agencies, firms providing new manure management technology, and farmers. This is the important science-based work that Extension does quietly and capably every day on a diversity of topics that matter to you - either directly or indirectly. 


Lois Wolfson, in her Leadership Spotlight piece, shares examples of how Michigan State University and Michigan State University Extension are working with rural and urban audiences to achieve their economic and quality of life goals, including ensuring clean and adequate water supplies. Lois has provided contact information for each program if you're interested in learning more.


Extension has been there for you for over 100 years, delivering educational programs that help make the Midwest a great place to live.  We hope to continue serving you for 100 more.  


Rebecca Power, Director

North Central Region Water Network

Network Initiatives
Last month we introduced the 2015 North Central Region Water Network seed funded initiatives. Congratulations again to those innovative projects. For the next several months, we will take a closer look at the progress of the 2014 initiatives. 

Stormwater Core Curriculum
The Stormwater Core Curriculum is being lead by Shahram Missaghi and Eleanor Burkett from the University of Minnesota Extension. Until now, a publicly available and comprehensive stormwater core curriculum has been missing and was only available at the local level. 


Human activity on the landscape has drastically changed the natural hydrologic cycle by concentrating much of the output into surface water as excessive runoff. This can lead to flash flooding, loss of property and significant water quality degradation. Although there has been a national push in the last several decades to adopt green infrastructure standards, the educational programs available typically address only local needs and issues. This will be the first uniform and comprehensive storm water core curriculum.The goal of this collaborative is to develop publicly available, research based, storm water core curriculum that can be readily used by educators, local governments and professionals alike. 


During the first year (2014-2015), a module will be developed with three chapters covering stormwater basics, understanding practices and maintenance. Module is expected to launch fall of 2015.  Learn more here.
Leadership Spotlight: Michigan State University Extension
Each month we call attention to a significant state-led project and associated leadership team member from our Network. This month instead of focusing on just one project, we are highlighting several different programs being developed by the Michigan State University Research and Extension. 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. 
Spotlight on MSU Research and Extension

by Lois Wolfson

Milking facility wastewater is stronger than domestic wastewater yet management is difficult on small farms that do not have a manure storage structure.  Even if farms have a storage structure, land application is expensive.  This wastewater has limited nutritional value for crops it is applied to, and the increase water content can cause pathogen and nutrient runoff.  MSU, in corporation with the MI NRCS Wastewater Workgroup, has been involved with the development and evaluation of three technologies:  traditional onsite wastewater advanced treatment unit, bark filter mound, and constructed vertical flow wetland.  The MI Bark Filter Mound is now an interim MI USDA NRCS standard making it available for EQIP cost share.  A draft standard for the wetland titled Vegetated Gravel Contactor is prepared and should be issued in the near future.  A proposal to evaluate a fourth technology that entails microbial in situ enzymatic pretreatment of the wastewater before disposal in a drain field is prepared. Two journal articles have been published and a third has been submitted.   Contact Steven Safferman Associate Professor in the Department of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering for further details.



The MSU Extension 2015 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series is now open to gain knowledge needed to plan start-up farming operations or add a new enterprise to an existing farm.  A series of twenty, 2-hour evening webinars covering a wide variety of farm-related topics is available, including topics on Cover Crops; Integrated Pest Management; Farm Food Safety; Managing Soil, Irrigation and Fertilization Interactions and a variety of other topics. Registration ($10/webinar), a brochure containing details on each individual program, and on-line or mailed payment options can be found at Each program lasts about 2 hours.  Webinar connection information will be sent following registration. Contact the Alger County MSU Extension office at 906-387-2530 or Jim Isleib for more information.


Big change is possible when people work together, generate new ideas, and forge partnerships. That's the goal of the Great Lakes Clean Communities Network (GLCCN), an effort supported by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, where leaders connect in new and powerful ways to address environmental problems locally and throughout the Great Lakes region. The GLCCN will build synergy and find better solutions by working together and helping to make the Great Lakes healthier. The Network will enhance connectivity among organizations, bring leaders together, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge, tools, and programs that generate new ideas and approaches for managing and minimizing a variety of impacts ranging from nonpoint source pollution to invasive species. The GLCCN will address water quality concerns such as climate change, aquatic invasive species, and nutrient and manure management.  Over 250 communities and organizations across the Great Lakes region have already signed on to be part of the network.  Contact Lois Wolfson for more information.


Michigan borders four of the five Great Lakes and has more than 11,000 inland lakes greater than five acres in surface area. Nearly one million watercrafts are registered. In order to help stop the spread of unwanted aquatic invasive species through boat transfer, the Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) program is seeking volunteers.   The CBCW volunteers share up-to-date information with visiting boaters about how to inspect and clean their watercraft, trailer and equipment, and how to manage invasive species if found. Volunteers can make a big difference in Michigan's efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species from one body of water to another. The program will be offered in various locations throughout the state from February through July. The cost of the training is $50.  The program is a joint effort between MSU Extension and the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc. Visit for more information.

Dr. Lois Wolfson
Water Quality Specialist, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Institute of Water Research at Michigan State  University


Lois's outreach and Extension programming focus on watershed management, volunteer monitoring in aquatic systems, lake ecology, and utilizing decision support systems for addressing 

critical water issues. Her research interests are in invasive species and cyanobacteria blooms and their impact on ecosystem health. She also teaches an upper level course in 

Field Techniques in Aquatic Systems. 


Wolfson is co-principal investigator on several projects funded through the US Geological Survey, Great Lakes Protection Fund and EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  The latter project focused on working with Conservation District and Extension personnel to provide access to online tools that target areas of high erosion and runoff <>. She was part of the NIFA Great Lakes Regional Water Program from 2001-2013, and looks forward to working with and gaining insight from the expanded representation on the North Central Region Water Network. 
The Current Webinar Series
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. 

The Current Webinar 6: "Educating the Next Generation of Water Leaders"
The 6th  installment of  The Current Webinar series titled "Educating the Next Generation of Water Leaders" took place on Wednesday, February 18.  Listeners learned about overcoming the challenge of making water issues more relevant and personal to youth. Presenters were  Elizabeth Juchems , Iowa State University Extension and Outreach,  Kate Reilly , University of Wisconsin-Extension,  Catherine Techtmann , University of Wisconsin-Extension. For more information, read about it here or view the webinar on our NCRWN Youtube Page.

Thank you to our presenters for their thought provoking presentations! 

The next webinar will take place in April. Stay tuned for details!
Past Webinars:
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!
2015 The Great Lakes Conference: Advancing Knowledge and Improvement

Date: March 10 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, East Lansing, MI

Celebrating its 25th year, the conference will address some key Great Lakes topic areas and highlight some of the latest research and management efforts being developed for the Great Lakes and its surrounding watershed. The conference is free and open to the public; however, advanced registration by Thursday, March 5, is requested.


For conference information, contact Lois Wolfson with the Institute of Water Research and Fisheries and Wildlife, Visit to register. 

Funding Opportunities

Environmental Protection Agency RFP 2015

Deadline: March 24

EPA is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to provide support for training and technical assistance activities to build the capacity of state and tribal officials and nongovernmental stakeholders in the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(d) Program, the Nonpoint Source (CWA Section 319) Program, the Wetlands Program, and the Water Quality Monitoring Program. More info

NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative  Competitive Grants Program: Water for Agriculture Challenge Area
Deadline: April 9 (Letter of Intent) Application: July 16
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, AFRI NIFA Water for Agriculture RFA focuses on solutions for conserving higher quality water and understanding the human behavior and its influence on decision making for agricultural water use. Continued significant variations from the historical rate of water supply, demand and quality are projected to have major impacts on agricultural, forest, and rangeland production systems.  More info

NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative  Competitive Grants Program: Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area
Deadline: April 2 (Letter of Intent) Application: June 4
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change (ANRCVC) Challenge Area focuses on the societal challenge to adapt agroecosystems and natural resource systems to climate variability and change and implement mitigation strategies in those systems. More info

McKnight Foundation - Mississippi River Program

Deadlines: 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 grant making, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we use our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve.  More info

In Case You Missed it...
N CRWN is now on 

In order to reach a broader audience and continue to share information, we are now on the most popular social media site that is available. Please like us on Facebook, comment, and continue the dialogue about NCRWN and regional and national water issues. 


Want your water questions answered by colleagues? 

Use the NCRWN ListServes to get the CORRECT answers to your questions quickly. 

To subscribe, send a blank email to the list you want to join: 
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.

View our videos on YouTube  Follow us on Twitter  Like us on Facebook