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

Preparing Future Generations of Water Decision-Makers 

Aldo Leopold looms large in the modern conservation movement. His influence is felt deeply in my home state of Wisconsin, where - in 1939 - he founded the new discipline of wildlife management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lent his expertise to America's first watershed project in Coon Valley.

I had the privilege of meeting his youngest daughter, Estella, earlier this month at the Aldo Leopold Foundation's Building a Land Ethic conference in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Estella is an accomplished paleobotanist and conservationist in her own right. During the conference, we saw many photos of the Leopold family out at "the shack," a rustically renovated chicken coop on a worn-out farm about an hour north of Madison. The family used the shack as a basecamp for hunting, archery, keeping phenology records, relaxation away from the pressures of city life, and practicing conservation.

One of the striking impressions those photographs made on me was seeing both men and women with boots on, carrying axes, saws, bows, guns, shovels, musical instruments, making breakfast, and perched atop the roof of the shack fixing the chimney. The Leopolds brought a holistic view to their family life as well as to conservation. And we have evidence that their approach bore fruit, with all the Leopold children having successful careers in the natural sciences and more importantly, life-enriching relationships with the natural world.

Many studies over the past 10 years have documented the value that being in nature has for human development and well being, particularly for our kids.  The North Central Region Water Network has recently worked with youth and water educators from across the region to form a Youth Water Working Group. Extension is leading and partnering on several strong programs engaging youth in science, technology, engineering, and math skills related to water (e.g. Water Rocks, the GRAND Learning Network, and the national 4-H Soil and Water Science curriculum). The work group is developing 1) an online list of these resources and their characteristics, and 2) a white paper outlining regional priorities for youth water programming in the North Central Region. When complete, this white paper will be shared with Extension educators, specialists, and administrators. Our hope is that it will be used to support future multi-state collaboration related to youth water programming.

Preparing future generations of decision-makers to address water resource management challenges is an important part of Extension's commitment to life-long learning and a systems approach to water education and research.  For more on how Extension is assisting today's decision-makers, please read Joe Bonnell's piece on an Ohio State University Extension program that is helping Ohio farmers improve nutrient use efficiency and improve water quality.  

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
For the next several months we will take a closer look at the 2014 & 2015 initiatives. For more information on these, visit our  Network Initiatives Page.

Mapping the Pathways for Effective Dissemination and Education between Manure Nutrient Management Agriculture Professionals

Manure nutrient management education takes a concerted team approach by Extension, government and industry to transform research findings to implemented practices. This concerted effort is faced with many challenges, including organizational differences in language and communication methods at our disposal, and the sometimes controversial nature of the topic.

The goal of this Professional Development Project is to establish documented and effective pathways for information dissemination and use among manure nutrient management professionals. The short-term outcomes are to develop an understanding of the needs of various agricultural professional organizations and individuals, the barriers for successful information transfer, and the terminology used by the different audiences.

Intended Impacts

This project is designed for the professional development of individuals from multiple organizations to cooperatively discover and define the pathways for more effective and successful information sharing among agricultural professional groups. Upon conclusion of the project, the information pathways and communication tools developed by this project will be used by agriculture professionals in development of more successful and end-user focused outreach and education programs.

Project Contacts:

Erin Cortus
Extension Specialist, South Dakota State University
Leadership Spotlight: Ohio State University Extension
Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water Signature Program

Ohio State University Extension has multiple educational and research programs focusing on agricultural nutrient management, but I'm going to shine the spotlight on one particular program which has a broad reach across the state and across the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences at OSU.
Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water is a signature program. As part of OSU Extension's strategic plan, signature programs were created to focus resources on one of four impact areas (job creation, agriculture and the environment, youth education, and families and communities). Every educator in the OSU Extension system is expected to contribute to at least one of the eight signature programs.
The Nutrient Stewardship signature program is designed to improve water quality by helping growers efficiently use nitrogen and phosphorus to keep more of these nutrients on the field to increase crop yields and farm profits and to reduce downstream impacts, including harmful algal blooms. The program seeks to increase nutrient utilization efficiency via in-field and edge-of-field best management practices that limit off-site movement of nutrients. The signature program has five integral parts:
1.   Verification and development of BMPs for application and timing to limit soluble nutrient     loss.
2.   Verification and adjustment of the Tri-state Fertility Guide rates for crop productivity and     environmental impacts.
3.    Education of producers.
4.    Development of voluntary Nutrient Management Plans.
5.   Evaluation of the improvement of water quality in Ohio's waterways.
Short-term goals of the program include:
  • Conducting on-farm trials of BMPs related to nutrient application methods, timing, and rates.
  • Promotion of soil testing and tri-state fertilizer recommendations.
  • Promotion of Nutrient Management Plans that include environmental risk assessments.
Long-term goals include:
  • Reduced incidence of harmful algal blooms (cyano bacteria) in Lake Erie.
  • Increased utilization of adaptive management techniques and systems approaches to nutrient management by farmers and the agriculture industry.
Awareness of the need to reduce nutrient runoff from farm fields has never been greater in Ohio with news headlines about harmful algal blooms in Grand Lake Saint Mary's, Ohio's largest inland reservoir, and in the western basin of Lake Erie and the related contamination of the city of Toledo's public drinking water supply. The Ohio legislature also recently passed a law requiring anyone who applies commercial fertilizer to more than 50 acres used for commercial agricultural production to become certified for fertilizer applications. To become certified, farmers and applicators must attend a training course offered by OSU Extension.
 In 2014, over 3000 producers and agri-business professionals received water quality education from 50 Extension Educators and Specialists.  More than 100 educational programs have been planned in 2015 and there will be at least one program in all 88 counties in the state. Also in 2014, over one third of all Agriculture and Natural Resource County Educators had conducted on-farm and field trials of nutrient application methods, timing, and rates. Research results will be used to enhance educational programs to reduce nutrient runoff. OSU has secured funding to hire technicians to assist farmers in developing Nutrient Management Plans. County Extension Educators report that 82% of clientele have adopted soil testing and 49% follow tri-state fertilizer recommendations.
For more information about the Nutrient Stewardship for Cleaner Water signature program, contact  Samuel G. Custer  Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources
OSU Extension,, 937-548-5215. You can also

Joe Bonnell
Ohio State University Extension

Joe Bonnell started working on water resource issues with OSU Extension in 1996 as a Graduate Research Associate. He is now the Program Director for Watershed Management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. He develops, delivers, and evaluates extension outreach programs aimed at addressing nonpoint sources of pollution, watershed management, and other natural resource management issues. Current programs include  Ohio Watershed Network (OWN) website, the  Ohio Watershed Academy (OWA) distance-based education course, and social indicators for nonpoint source pollution. He also serves as the State Team Leader for the  Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program. 
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 12:  Citizen Water Quality Monitoring
September 16, 2015 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. CT

 More presenters to come! Register here and check back for more information! 
  • Matthew Young, Coordinator, Illinois RiverWatch
  • Ilana Haimes, Project Coordinator, UW-Extension
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!

Ag Drainage Water Management Webinar Series by USDA-NRCS
Webinars: July 22 - December 16, 2015
Agricultural drainage water management and drainage water quality are the topics of a series of webinars recently developed by a team of extension specialists from several Upper Midwest universities. The webinars will be presented monthly from July through December.  The webinars will provide best management practices for improving drainage water quality and information from multiple states across the Midwest. They are structured to provide both the perspective of the farmer/practitioner and the research/extension specialist.   The six one-hour webinars will be held at 9 a.m. Central Time on the following Wednesdays: July 22, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.  Learn more here.

Modeling Nutrients: Nutrient Cycles, Potential Impacts on Water Quality, and Developing Nutrient Endpoints

Webinars: September 3 & September 13
This webinar will present information related to nutrient modeling and will include topics such as nutrient cycling, common nutrient related problems (e.g, eutrophication, low D.O., fish kills, and algae blooms), and critical parameters and driving processes. Speakers will also discuss developing nutrient-sensitive endpoints for nutrient modeling.

EPA-USDA National Workshop on Water Quality Markets
September 15-17, 2015
USDA and EPA are cosponsoring a National Workshop on Water Quality Markets. This event is hosted by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska and coordinated by The Conservation Fund. The Workshop will highlight recent progress in water quality trading across the country with an emphasis on policy, resources, and tool development. The Workshop will provide EPA and USDA with an opportunity to lay out their vision for the role of water quality markets in advancing conservation and water quality goals, and provide you with the tools to engage in water quality markets. Learn more here.

Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring: 
From the Great Lakes to the Gulf
December 1-3, 2015
The collaborative effort, starting with the 2014 Workshop, is organized around the development of data-driven, region-specific case studies highlighting a systems approach to BMP strategies to reduce nutrient exports to water resources in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds.  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
Fund for Lake Michigan
Deadline: Pre-proposals September 25, 2015
The Fund for Lake Michigan is pleased to announce a request for pre-proposals for projects that fit within its mission and grant making priorities. The mission of the Fund for Lake Michigan is to support efforts, and in particular those in southeastern Wisconsin, that enhance the health of Lake Michigan, and its shoreline and tributary river systems, for the benefit of the people, plants and animals that depend upon the system for water, recreation and commerce.  More info.

Small Business Innovation Research Program
Deadline: October 8, 2015
USDA SBIR's flexible research areas ensure innovative projects consistent with USDA's vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. USDA SBIR Program has awarded over 2000 research and development projects since 1983, allowing hundreds of small businesses to explore their technological potential, and providing an incentive to profit from the commercialization of innovative ideas. More info.

Climate and Societal Interactions
The Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) Program provides leadership on decision support research, assessments, and climate services development activities to help society adapt to a changing climate. CSI supports both U.S. and internationally focused projects to facilitate community building and learning about challenges and solutions associated with understanding and meeting the climate-related needs of decision makers. More info.
In Case You Missed it...
The Current Webinar 11:
 Agricultural Irrigation Management
  • 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

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