IASWCD logo transparent
Conservation INsight
March 3, 2021
Call for Abstracts for the 2022 Annual Conference of Indiana SWCDs
Due April 5
The Annual Conference of Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts offers a unique learning and training opportunity for SWCD Supervisors, Staff, and Conservation Partners (such as state and federal agency staff). We again anticipate over 350 attendees representing local/state/ regional/national organizations, public agencies, businesses and more. Oral presentations are invited to be considered on topics relating to three session tracks: On the Ground (conservation implementation/technical), District Management, and Outreach & Education.
Keeping in mind that the SWCD staff and supervisors are the primary audience, abstracts for presentations should address suggested topics within one of the identified session tracks. 
IASWCD logo transparent
Stop the Repeal, Protect Indiana’s Precious Wetlands
Stop Senate Bill 389
Statement co-authored by:
Larry Clemens, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana; Emily Wood, Executive Director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation; and Joe Schmees, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (February 25, 2021) - Indiana’s State Senators didn’t intend to galvanize Hoosiers to protect isolated wetlands, but their vote last month to repeal regulation of these important ecological features sure did the trick.
Legislative Update for Districts
In case you missed it, Cress Hizer and Joe Schmees hosted an IASWCD Midsession Update Webinar on February 26. This was recorded and can now be viewed. Weekly updates can be found on the IASWCD website on the CWI page.
NACD Photo Contest Winner from Lake County, Indiana
Corey Melvin's photo, entitled "Even Flow," received 2nd place in the National Association of Conservation Districts' National Photo Contest. As an 8th grader at Forest Ridge Academy, Corey took this photo of the Lake George Dam in Hobart, Indiana. This photo was submitted by the Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District where it received 1st place in their local contest. Congratulations!
March 1 Newsletter with upcoming webinars and shop visits!
March 4 at 1:30 pm (EST)

March 5 at 9 am (EST)
IASWCD Hires Region Specialists with New Urban Soil Health Program
Indianapolis (March 1, 2021) - The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) announces the hiring of Stephanie Wulpenry, Marian Rodriguez-Soto, and Casey Kennett as Regional Urban Soil Health Specialists with Indiana’s new Urban Soil Health Program. These specialists will cover the entire state for this initiative formally started in January. Launching as a partnership between the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), this program will promote a systematic conservation approach to agriculture in urban and small-scale farm settings. “We are eager to welcome these three dynamic women to help develop the new Urban Soil Health Program and work closely with local partners,” says Elli Blaine, Urban Ag Soil Health Program Director. “They come with diverse skill sets that range from technical and academic experience with soils and soil pests, to community engagement and advocacy in the urban agriculture arena.”
Stephanie Wulpenry
Northeast Area Region Specialist
Marian Rodriguez-Soto
Northwest Area Region Specialist
Casey Kennett
Southeast Area Region Specialist
Virtual Advocacy Week, March 22-26
NACD’s Government Affairs team will be hosting a Zoom briefing at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on March 16 for members and partners participating in the Virtual Advocacy WeekThis briefing will be a substitute for the breakfast briefing we normally host in Washington, D.C., where we will review the issue papers and answer any questions that people who are participating in the following week’s meetings may have.
NACD seeks Executive Assistant/Office Coordinator
NACD is currently seeking an executive assistant/office coordinator. This position will be responsible for providing administrative support to the NACD CEO, officers, and executive board.
National Conservation Foundation Launches New Website
Check out the revamped website featuring NCF's new logo and mission statement. This new site houses information and resources on all of the foundation's programs, including the Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) and the NCF-Envirothon. You can also access the latest NCF news and learn more about how you can get involved.
2021 IDEA Membership Drive Underway
Deadline extended to April 30
"Membership in IDEA includes an opportunity to be connected to adjacent county Soil & Water Conservation District staff," states Martha Miller, IDEA President. "These members meet throughout the year to network, brainstorm and problem solve issues that may be occurring in their districts. Many of the SWCD offices are small and having an opportunity to meet with colleagues is invaluable." 
Indiana's Soil & Water Conservation District Employees impact the local landscape of Indiana by participating in and delivering the vision of the Indiana District Supervisors, Local Officials, and the Indiana Conservation Partnership. Membership in the organization is $25/ year. Please make checks payable to "Indiana District Employee Association" and view the membership form for more details.
Lake Michigan Basin Webinar Series
In order to coincide with the development of the 2020-2024 Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP), IDEM and partner organizations have presented and recorded a series of webinars targeted at the broad range of organizations working on watershed protection and restoration efforts within the Lake Michigan basin. Links to nine recorded webinars are now available to view.
Be on the Lookout: New Form Required for Some NRCS Customers
By Kathryn Fidler, USDA·Feb 17, 2021
If you are a producer or landowner who participates in USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) may be reaching out by mail with information about a form you’ll need to fill out. Starting this year, all producers and landowners participating or applying to participate in certain NRCS conservation programs must complete form CCC-902, Farm Operating Plan.
2021 National Cooperative Soil Survey Conference: Call for Oral and Poster Presentations
Submission deadline is March 12, 2021
The National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) extends an open invitation for submission of abstracts for presentation at the virtual 2021 National Cooperative Soil Survey Conference hosted by Auburn University. Presenters have the option to submit abstracts for one of the following: (1) Live Oral Presentation, (2) Pre-recorded Oral Presentation, or (3) Online Poster Presentation. Live presentations will take place on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Pre-recorded presentations and posters will be available on the conference website.
Educator Helps Students Find Direction through Agriculture
Public Affairs Specialist, USDA-NRCS, Indianapolis
Aster Bekele just wanted to teach students in Indianapolis, Indiana about science. During her 26 years working at Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis, she had tried various ways of teaching with little success.
First, they tried doing lunch time classes where they would teach the students and do an experiment. When that didn’t work, she tried teaching students both during the school day and after school, figuring what they needed was more time. But still, she found the students to be bored and uninterested in the topics.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Leadership in Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area
WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2021 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the appointment of Gloria Montaño Greene as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) and the appointment of Zach Ducheneaux as Administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). They will begin their positions on Monday, Feb. 22.
Purdue Extension News
Indiana Urban Agriculture Farmer Survey
To Urban Agriculture (UA) Growers in Indiana:
Thanks for all you do for your communities through your UA farm, garden, product, or market. You are invited to share your input in a survey. The purpose of this survey is to better understand UA production challenges across Indiana, identify partners to help, and generate and provide programs and materials in preferred and accessible formats. Please take a few moments to respond. Your input will contribute to new and applicable resources, information and programming for urban agriculture across Indiana.
Indiana Outdoor News
Other News
Algal Bloom Action Team Webinar
March 3 at 2 pm (CST)
The Algal Bloom Action Team is hosting a series of Harmful Algal Bloom or HAB webinars featuring the latest HAB research. The team is a collaboration of water professionals, researchers, and educators from twelve states in the North Central Region of the United States. Team members include the national network of Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRI), the North Central Region Water Network (NCRWN) and Cooperative Extensions within each state.
Looking for more Harmful Algal Bloom content? The Algal Bloom Action Team has created a 'What You Need to Know' factsheet and frequently asked question database for educators to use in outreach and educational efforts. Find these resources and recordings from the team's January symposium here.
Fallow Fields Study
Attention Indiana farmers! Do you have fallow or unmanaged land on your farm? Purdue Entomology wants to see your bugs! The Insect Ecology Lab at Purdue University is looking for sites of unmanaged or fallow agricultural land to study insect and plant diversity this summer. Surveys are non-destructive and consist of insect collections and plant counts from April to October. Land should be unplanted for at least one year, not managed (pesticide, herbicide, burning, tilling, etc), and approximately 2.5 acres (1 ha) or larger. If you are interested in participating or for more details, contact Allison Bistline-East:909-334-2555, abistlin@purdue.edu
The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new Learning Exchange— Source Water Protection Through Forestry Partnerships. The SWC Learning Exchange is an information sharing platform for people and organizations working to protect sources of drinking water. With the Learning Exchange, the SWC aims to strengthen the effectiveness of source water practitioners across the country by providing a platform to share experiences, transfer knowledge, and learn about funding and technical resources available to support their efforts.
Agriculture Leadership Benefit
March 22-27, 2021
This week-long benefit will feature FUNactivities, opportunity to connect and network, and a Silent Auction to support the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program. Virtual events and online bidding will make it easy for you to participate from the convenience of your home whereever you live.  The Featured Events are scheduled to last approximately an hour. Drawings and prizes will be awarded each evening. You must be present to win. Following each event, plenty of time will be allowed for stick around for visiting and catching up with great friends and colleagues. Your $100 registration fee includes the Zoom link to each of the special events and access to the silent auction website for bidding.
Soil Health Indicators: An introductory guide for Non-Operating Agricultural Landowners
Watch the Video, then Join the Conversation
The Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) and its partners have just released a new soil heath video targeted for Non-Operating Agricultural Landowners. The video explores the importance of soil health and how to do a simple assessment of soil health using 4 key indicators (soil cover, residue breakdown, surface crusting, and water stable aggregates). The video is available on the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation YouTube channel at this link: https://youtu.be/FTl3B3P5biA
On March 10, 2021 at Noon, WREC is hosting an online conversation with the video speakers, Stephanie McLain and Joe Rorick, to help landowners better understand the health of their fields. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions when they register or bring them to the conversation. The conversation is open to anyone interested in learning more about soil health.
Job Postings :
Current list of Conservation Job Opportunities now posted on the IASWCD website.

Note: Job Postings can be submitted to Amy Work at: amy-work@iaswcd.org . Please include job description and deadline to apply in a single PDF file or with a link.
Upcoming Conservation Events :
March 4 - ICP Training: ID of Shrubs
March 5 - ICP Training: Backyard Habitat
March 11 - CCSI SARE Training
March 18 - Conservation Focus Workshop, Wayne Co.
March 18 - CCSI SARE Training
March 24 - Cover Crops Workshop, Boone Co.
For a complete list of upcoming conservation events, go to the Events Calendar on the IASWCD website.*
*Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, events are changing daily. Please check the individual hosting organization's website and/or Facebook page for the latest information on cancellations and reschedule dates. Thank you.