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Conservation INsight
August 19, 2020
Training Needs Assessment Survey for All ICP Staff
The Indiana Conservation Partnership Training committee has created a survey to help determine the highest priority training needs among all Indiana partnership employees. The information gathered in this assessment helps direct future training topics facilitated by several partner organizations. ICP Staff - please take the time to fill out the survey, ranking the topics as agreed upon within your district guidance (i.e. directed by your supervisors and/or part of your employee training plan, etc.). Deadline: September 4.
Indiana District Showcase Award
Indiana’s District Showcase Award, sponsored by the Indiana Conservation Partnership, is designed to highlight the success of up to four local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in the Hoosier state. The award focus allows Districts the opportunity to share new project ideas or better ways to design and implement existing conservation projects.
Application is online and due by August 28.
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IASWCD Resolution Submission
Districts - if you would like to submit a resolution for consideration, please fill out this Google Form. Resolutions are due to the IASWCD office by Friday, September 16, 2020.
VirTuesdays: Training for Indiana District Staff and Supervisors

ISDA and IASWCD are hosting a series of three Virtual Trainings on Tuesday evenings beginning August 25 for Indiana District Staff and Supervisors. 

Three Tuesdays, three topics:
August 25 - Succession Planning
September 1 - Effective Board Meetings
September 8 - Roles and Responsibilities of District Staff and Supervisors

| All trainings begin at 7 pm and last for one hour. | These sessions will be recorded. |
Registration is required and ends the Sunday prior to each session.
The Zoom link will be emailed to each registrant one day prior to the session date.

Indiana Conservation Award Submissions - due September 18
Applications for Indiana Conservation Awards: Friend of Conservation, Supervisor of the Year and Conservation Farmer of the Year are now open on the IASWCD Awards page. Nominations due by September 18.
Thank you to the following 65 Indiana Districts who have paid annual membership dues to IASWCD:
(as of 8-11-20)
Indiana's Rodney Rulon Featured as an NACD Soil Health Champion
Rodney Rulon began farming full-time after graduating from Purdue University with a B.S. (in 1994) and M.S. (in 1996) in agricultural systems management. Rulon Enterprises is a fourth-generation family farming operation run by brothers Ken and Roy Rulon, cousin Rodney Rulon, and Roy’s sons, Nick and Neal Rulon. The Rulon Farm started off as 80 acres in 1869 and has since grown to include over 6,400 acres of no-till corn and soybeans across central Indiana. The Rulon family operation also includes a market hog operation called Bryant Premium Pork LLC; a Beck’s Hybrids seed dealership; The Peer Network – a subscription-based agriculture discussion website; and a custom drainage design and installation business.
Dubois County's NACD TA Grant Assists Landowners
In 2018, thanks to a 2018 NACD Technical Assistance (TA) Grant, the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Indiana hired a program support technician to help with a variety of conservation planning and practices. However, when applying for the grant, the district did not anticipate the crucial role this person would play in ensuring seamless service to the landowners. Dubois SWCD’s district conservationist (DC) retired at the beginning of 2018, which led to a rotation of active DCs from February to November of that year. Jennifer Knable-Thompson, the retired DC from southern Indiana hired through the TA grant, played a critical role in ensuring that customers didn’t see a decrease in assistance during that time.
Virtual Summer Board Meeting Recording
Now Available
On Monday, July 20, the NACD Board of Directors conducted a virtual board meeting in place of the 2020 Summer Conservation Forum and Tour, which was to be held in Bismarck, N.D., but was moved to a virtual format given the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. A recording of the meeting is now available to view on the Members Only and Board of Directors pages on NACD's website.
NACD Marketplace Offers 2021 Stewardship and Education Materials
Get ready for the new school year with NACD's 2021 Stewardship and Education (S&E) materials, celebrating the theme “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.” With trees and forests around the world under threat, having environmentally literate and conservation-minded kids is more important than ever. NACD's materials provide the needed information to teach and promote tree and forest conservation at home and in the classroom. The materials can be downloaded for free through NACD's Conservation Education Hub or Marketplace, and they can be printed and purchased locally or on-demand through Goetz Printing.
IDEA 2020-2021 Officers Elected
The Indiana District Employee Association's Region Directors met on August 13 and elected officers for this upcoming year. Officers will remain the same for this year, as follows:
  • Martha Miller, President
  • Lori Jordan, Vice-President
  • Mary Lou Watson, Secretary
  • Cindy Newkirk, Treasurer
Red Gold Recognizes Conservation Award Recipients
Elwood, IN (Aug. 6, 2020) – The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Red Gold announced the winners of the Red Gold Stewardship award. Myers Sod Farm of Seymour, Indiana and Rice Farms of LaPorte, Indiana were awarded first and second place, respectively. This presentation, now in its 12th year, is a partnership between Red Gold and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The award is presented to Red Gold growers who value improving soil health and water quality on their operations. “Red Gold and it’s growers are committed to stewardship practices that enhance soil health and improve water quality,” said Red Gold’s Director of Agriculture, Steve Smith. “I am honored to recognize these exceptional growers and stewards of the land.”
The 23rd Annual Pollution Prevention (P2) Conference and
Trade Show is going VIRTUAL!
September 16 and 17, 2020
Dynamic speakers, CEU credits,
and Networking Opportunities
The 23nd Annual Indiana Pollution Prevention (P2) Conference and Trade Show will be held virtually on Sept 16-17, 2020. Registration is now open online. (Note: Registration site works best using Google Chrome or another updated browser. )
Chief Lohr Steps Down August 14
July 31, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matt Lohr announced in an online video that he will be leaving USDA this month in order to return to Virginia and farm full-time. Calling the moment "bittersweet" in a Facebook post, Lohr stated, "I have been so blessed to lead this agency, and I will cherish the experience forever." Lohr's last day will be Friday, Aug. 14. NRCS Associate Chief Kevin Norton will serve as acting chief of NRCS.
Farmers.gov has new conservation features that enable you to:
  • login to view, download, and e-sign documents
  • request conservation assistance
  • view technical references and submit questions
  • access information on current and past conservation practices
  • view detailed information on all previous and ongoing contracts, including the amount of planned and received cost-share assistance
These conservation features join several others already available through the authenticated farmers.gov portal. NRCS has several how-to videos which walk you through how to use these new features.
Op-Ed: Indiana Landowners Are Doing Their Part to Improve Water Quality
By Jerry Raynor, Indiana NRCS State Conservationist
Drive across Indiana or fly overhead and you will see evidence of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) work on the state’s landscape. Conservation practices such as grassed waterways, restored wetlands and fields planted with protective cover are just a few visible signs of the agency’s work in our state. Throughout Indiana, NRCS conservationists work with farmers and private forest landowners to plan and install these and many other conservation practices.
WASHINGTON, August 6, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today invited potential conservation partners to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award up to $360 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. “RCPP brings an expanded approach to investing in natural resource conservation that empowers local communities to work with multiple partners and agricultural producers to design solutions that work best for them,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr.
USDA Producer Satisfaction Survey
Farmers and forestland owners – we want to hear from you! What’s working? What can we improve? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces a new annual survey of farmers and private forestland owners. The survey will help USDA understand what it is doing well and where improvements are needed, specifically at the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).
If you received a survey from us, please take a few minutes to respond. If you didn’t receive a survey, please give us feedback at farmers.gov/survey.
USDA Announces New Farm Service Agency County Committees for Urban Agriculture, Requests Nominations
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced new Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees focused exclusively on urban agriculture. County committees have enabled farmer input on the delivery of FSA programs since the 1930s, and these new committees are part of USDA’s efforts to better support urban agriculture.
“County committees represent farmers and set priorities at the local level,” Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said. “Urban and suburban farmers are uniquely qualified to identify the needs of growers and their communities, especially when it comes to making fresh, healthy food accessible."
Webinar Introducing Office of Urban Ag and Innovation Production
A webinar to discuss the work of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production – including the FSA county committees -- will be held on Aug. 27 at 2:00 Eastern Time. For the link and information on registration, see farmers.gov/urban.
Turkey Brood Survey now through Aug 31
Have you seen wild turkey hens without young turkeys or poults? Observations of hens without poults are important because at this time of year it suggests that the hen wasn’t successful nesting. All of this information helps DNR to estimate Indiana’s wild turkey population. Report observations now through August 31 using a quick online form.
Other News
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Confirms Participation
in Farm Journal Field Days™, August 25-27
Lenexa, Kan., (July 28, 2020) – Farm Journal today announced that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is confirmed to participate in its groundbreaking Farm Journal Field Days™ event, set for August 25-27.
Secretary Perdue will discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda at Farm Journal Field Days and will share insights on how farmers can continue to access new tools and technologies to drive the industry forward and meet market demands while reducing environmental impact.
“We’re obviously thrilled and honored that Secretary Perdue is using Farm Journal Field Days to deliver USDA’s innovation message,” said Andy Weber, CEO of Farm Journal. “The ag innovation message completely aligns with the innovativeness that Farm Journal Field Days delivers to all American producers as the farm show of the future.”
The Secretary will speak at 3:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Aug. 27.
Monarch Conservation Spotlight
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) and all of the diverse and critical work that goes into conserving pollinators, the Monarch Joint Venture Communications Working Group and NAPPC Monarch Task Force are launching a new “Monarch Conservation Spotlight” series. The series will highlight a small fraction of the amazing work that is underway to address the declining trend of North American monarch populations and bring you information and resources about how you can get involved.
ALP Golf Benefit
August 27
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Enjoy a day of golf and comradery with your colleagues and support the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP). Bring your friends, work partners, and customers for a day of golf at one of Indianapolis area’s finest courses. Your participation will support Indiana’s premier program for building leadership capacities for today and tomorrow in the agricultural and rural communities.
Children's Book about Hugh Hammond Bennett Now Available
Mims House Books, which has a large collection of elementary nonfiction science picture books, is excited to offer the book, Erosion: How Hugh Bennett Saved America’s Soil and Stopped the Dust Bowl (pictured above) by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis. This children’s book explains the beginnings of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the exciting story of soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett, who sought to encourage lawmakers to help protect the land. The book is available as a paperback ($9.99) or hardcover ($19.99), with volume discounts on Mims House Books website and Amazon.
Applications for Forestry Grant
Due Sept 13
The Indiana Forestry Educational Foundation (IFEF) is pleased to announce the availability of competitive grant funds to help educate and inform woodland owners and/or the public about forestry, woodland management and other Indiana forestry related topics, with a special interest in young forest projects. The opportunity for award of IFEF grants, which are available up to $500, and up to $1000 awards for young forest projects, are available for consideration to those organizations submitting an online application by September 13, 2020.
Job Postings:
Current list of Conservation Job Opportunities are 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 :
  • August 20 - Conservation Bus Tour: Deer Creek-Sugar Creek Watershed
  • August 25 - Cover Crop Workshop, Miami Co.
  • August 27 - Webinar: FY20/21 RCPP Classic Nat'l Funding Opportunity
  • August 28 - Deadline for District Showcase Award applications
  • August 28 - Big Pine Creek Watershed Project Event, Clark Farm
  • September 4 - ICP Survey ends
  • September 16 -Resolutions due
  • September 17 - Women's Learning Circle, Wabash & Miami Co.
  • September 18 - Deadline for Indiana Conservation Award applications
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.