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Conservation INsight
January 20, 2021
2020 Indiana Conservation Award Recipients Recognized Virtually
Indianapolis (January 14, 2021) - During the closing ceremony of the annual conference of Indiana Soil & Water Conservation Districts, nine people and organizations were recognized for their efforts in protecting Indiana’s natural resources. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the conference was held online this year with over 400 attendees. Representatives from award sponsors, Brownfield Ag News, Indiana Farm Bureau and Indiana Prairie Farmer, were broadcasting live to honor these award recipients. The Conservation Farmer of the Year, Chalfant Family Farms, Inc., also participated live and answered questions from Kendall Culp, Vice President of Indiana Farm Bureau.
Last Chance to Share Your Two Cents!
2021 Annual Conference
of Indiana SWCDs - Evaluation
If you attended this year's Annual Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, please let us know about your expereience. Click on the link below and take our 5-10 minute survey. We appreciate the feedback!
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Shout Out: Leslie Fisher, Benton County SWCD, Featured in Field to Market's Spotlight Series

Recently, Leslie Fisher, a resource conservation specialist with Indiana's Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), was featured in Field to Market's Spotlight Series.

The article features Leslie's work with over 50 farmers and landowners in the Big Pine Creek watershed, and her efforts in working to advance water quality through collaboration and advice.

Fisher works directly with producers, along with agronomists and crop advisers, to engage farmers in soil health and nutrient management practices and connect them to resources which support growers in advancing watershed restoration efforts.

To read the full article, visit Field to Market's website.
National Conservation Foundation #FutureFocused Steve Robinson
Steve Robinson, chairman of the National Conservation Foundation (NCF), is a row crop farmer and excavation contractor from Marysville, Ohio. Robinson first got involved with NACD in the late 90s when he was president of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. He served on NACD’s Board of Directors, became a region chair and a part of the officer team, until finally serving as the national president in 2010 and 2011. He’s been involved with NCF for about 10 years, first serving on the board and then becoming chair a few years ago. 
Have You Registered for NACD's 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting? Only $50!
NACD's Virtual Annual Meeting is less than two weeks away! There's still time to register for $50—don't miss out on an exciting agenda full of NACD updates, meetings and district recognition! The 75th Annual Meeting, scheduled Feb. 1-10, 2021, will celebrate NACD's 75th Anniversary with the theme, "NACD's 75th Anniversary: A Diamond Out of the Dust."
NACD Submits Comments to NRCS on NIPF
WASHINGTON (January 19, 2021) – Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) submitted public comments to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) regarding guidance for identification of nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF).
In late 2020, the agency requested feedback on its proposed revision of the NIPF definition, which is used to determine forest landowner program eligibility for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
NACD Seeks UAC Grant Proposals
As urban and community agriculture continues to grow in importance for clients of conservation districts, NACD is proud to continue our partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the delivery of our Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) Grant Initiative. We are again accepting applications for up to $50,000 to support projects that promote the delivery of conservation technical assistance in urban and community-oriented settings, including projects that serve rural populations. See the full RFP online, with applications due Feb. 15, 202111:59 PM local time.
Interested UAC applicants may also attend an upcoming Meet and Greet Information Session on Jan. 25, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. NACD leadership and past grantees will present on the program and previous projects and will also be available to answer any questions from applicants. Come prepared with questions after reviewing the RFP and past grantee projects.
Registration is free online, and any questions related to the event or the UAC grant may be directed to NACD Pacific Region Representative Ariel Rivers at ariel-rivers@nacdnet.org.
More than $975,000 Awarded to Improve Water Quality
INDIANA (Jan. 6, 2021) —  The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the State Soil Conservation Board awarded $975,651 in matching grant funds to 15 soil and water conservation districts and organizations through the Clean Water Indiana program. “Soil is one of our most valuable resources,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “I commend our State Soil Conservation Board for continuing this award, even through this difficult year. I want to congratulate our conservation districts and soil health organizations for their awards, and I am looking forward to seeing the work they continue to do to conserve our natural resources."
Hoosier Riverwatch - Riffles & Pools
GRAZING BITES: An Indiana NRCS Monthly Newsletter
Winter is setting in. The impact of the dry spell in late summer and early fall is now more evident as stockpiled forages that normally would have lasted a bit longer start running short. I’ve walked most of my pastures to do a quick assessment. Hay will come early this year.
That “walkabout” helped me assess a few areas that could use a little attention besides estimating any remaining forage. A couple blackberry patches in one field certainly got my attention. Long, wet springs seem to be to their liking. I will certainly have to put a bit more pressure on them this coming year and probably clip or spray early to get them under control. Small patches where they were denser created too much competition for sunlight and water for the underlying forages and they were set back. When the canopy of perennial or annual weeds start exceeding more than thirty percent, you will have reduced forage growth and I also believe reduced nutritional value to some degree. 
USDA Seeks Members for Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture
Indianapolis (January 11, 2021) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking members for a new advisory committee on urban agriculture, part of a broader effort to focus on the needs of urban farmers. The 12-person committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices as well as identify any barriers to urban agriculture.
“We are looking forward to a robust group of nominees to serve on this important new advisory committee,” said Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana.
Conservation Efforts Continue on Indiana’s Farms Amid Challenging Year
(January 5, 2021) - The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana continued its conservation work across the state despite a tough 2020 marked with a pandemic and several natural disasters. The agency helped farmers and forest landowners implement conservation practices on their working lands, which help conserve natural resource such as soil, water and wildlife as well as boost producers’ bottom lines. Additionally, NRCS launched new online tools that increased the efficiency, effectiveness and delivery of crucial programs. “Despite facing a myriad of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Indiana NRCS was able to have a lasting impact on the working lands throughout the state,” said Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist in Indiana. “Our entire Indiana NRCS staff worked tirelessly to find creative ways to work with producers in the state and continue implementing conservation practices alongside our farmers and forest landowners. This year showed that no matter the obstacles, NRCS will continue helping people to help the land.”
New Rule Improves Partner Flexibility in Regional Conservation Partnership Program
(January 14, 2021) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released the final rule for its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The rule updates the USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) partner-driven program as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill and integrates feedback from agricultural producers and others. “The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is a powerful program that enables us to co-invest with partners on win-win solutions that benefit agriculture and natural resources,” said Jerry Raynor, State Conservationist for NRCS in Indiana. “The final rule contains some minor adjustments made in response to public comments, and we now look forward to continuing our work with our Indiana partners to use this unique and innovative program to extend the reach of conservation.” RCPP promotes coordination of NRCS and partner conservation activities that aid farmers and private landowners in Indiana by addressing on-farm, watershed and regional natural resource concerns.
Webinar: Development of the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) and Use by NRCS for Watershed Planning, January 28, 3:00 p.m. ET
Nutrient and sediment losses from agricultural watersheds have impacts on U.S. aquatic and marine ecosystems. Improving agricultural water quality requires planning and voluntary installation of new conservation practices through producer engagement. To help meet this challenge, ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, have developed the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) to provide watershed databases and software tools that can be used to present realistic options for placement of conservation practices that can improve water quality outcomes.
Indiana's NRCS 2020 Annual Report
The Hope in Healthy Soil video series: Introduction
FSA Announces General CRP Signup Period
Washington (January 4, 2021) - Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced a new general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Landowners can sign up for the program through their local FSA office through Feb. 12, 2021
Purdue Extension News
Women in Agriculture
Other News
CCCW Offering Virtual Tour of New Website and Support for Outreach
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Ever hear the phrase “New year, new you”? After 10 years of learning and growing and building new materials and audiences, Clear Choices Clean Water is stepping into its next decade with improved style and function! New year, new site! The Clear Choices Clean Water public engagement and behavior change program has been upgraded, and we want to share it with you! 
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 2, 10:00-11:00 OR Friday, February 5, 1:00-2:00 pm (EST) for a webinar to give you a tour of the new website and tips for how you can make the most of its features in your outreach efforts.
Webinar: Lower Kankakee Watershed Initiative
February 5
9 am (CST)
Link to register in flyer

Topics include:
  • Soil Health Demonstration: Functions of Soils - Stephanie McLain
  • Soil Health Principles & Practices - Doug Peterson
  • Producer Highlights - Gary Cooper & Cody Styck
  • Available Resources - Stephanie McLain
Register your Nature Play Days for June
If 2020 taught us anything it was the importance of flexibility and the restorative power of time spent outdoors. As we look ahead to Nature Play Days in 2021, we want to nurture that nature play and provide maximum flexibility in planning to keep the Nature Play Day (NPD) movement alive. This year, instead of asking host sites to register specific events, we simply ask you to register that you are hosting a Nature Play Day campaign. This will allow you maximum flexibility to adapt to ever changing COVID guidelines in your area. 
Sustain Our Great Lakes 2021 Request for Proposals
Pre-Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership designed to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat in the basin by leveraging funding, building conservation capacity, and focusing partners and resources toward key ecological issues. The program achieves this mission, in part, by awarding grants for on-the-ground habitat restoration and enhancement.
Register Now: TNC Webinar on Edge of Field Roadmap
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)'s North America Program will host a one-hour webinar on Friday, Feb. 5 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, to launch the new Edge of Field (EoF) Roadmap.

Developed through a collaborative six-month process, the roadmap consists of nine recommendations to accelerate the use of EoF practices to achieve an integrated, whole-farm approach to working lands conservation.

EoF practices like wetlands, saturated buffers and drainage water management are conservation technologies that provide on-farm and downstream benefits to achieve sustainability goals.
Call for Presentations
SWCS invites the submission of live demos, virtual tours, field days, workshops, oral presentations, symposia, and posters for the 76th SWCS International Annual Conference, taking place virtually, July 26-28, 2021.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 17, 2021
Free Virtual Webinar Series: Keeping Nutrients on the Farm
February 10 & 17
9-11:30 am
Marion County SWCD: Winter Workshop Series
The Marion County SWCD Winter Workshop Series is primarily focused on how and why to establish hedgerows and about insect management strategies in vegetable production. These presentations are virtual and free to join. Please register and join us for each individual session of interest.
Upcoming Virtual Learning Circles
Jan. 28, Feb. 11 and Feb. 28
View topics, times and register on the W4L site
Job Postings:
View this job opportunity below and others on the 

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:
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.