April 2016 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update
A Politician's Observations on Universities and Civic Life, and Implications for Water
Like many Americans, my ethnic heritage is diverse. However, in spirit and percentage, I am mostly of Irish descent.  Perhaps that's one reason why a recent speech given by Irish President Michael Higgins about the role of universities in today's society caught my attention.  Bear with me for a few paragraphs of history before I return to President Higgins' comments.

Most of you reading this know that in land-grant university extension, we pride ourselves on the practical nature of the education we provide.  We produce and translate knowledge in agriculture, community development and vitality, family and consumer science, and youth development. Through research, education, and engagement, we support the production and preparation of food, growing healthy communities across generations, and maintaining an environment and natural resources that support these activities.

While Extension is perhaps known best for providing such "useful and practical information," our mission is rooted in the high ideals of American democracy. The pre-cursors of American extension - early agricultural societies and the land-grant colleges - believed that agriculture and flourishing rural communities were cornerstones in the democratic foundation of our nation.  Land-grant universities and extension were to not just to help feed the American people, but to provide " . . . opportunities for better business and better living . . ." and " . . . higher social and intellectual aspirations . . . (Country Life Commission 1909)."

Now to bring this discussion back to today and President Higgins' speech. He articulates the challenges universities now face in an era when:

" . . . the language and rhetoric of the speculative market have become embedded in the educational culture and have brought some university practices down a precarious road."

President Higgins then highlights a unique role that universities can play in civic life, the arena in which our ideals play out on a field of practical needs and constraints.

"We must not forget that it is through the encouragement of creative and free thinking that our universities acquired their status in the past, and correctly claim it today, as unique institutions that accept the responsibility of enabling and empowering citizens to participate fully and effectively at all levels of society. This creative function must be cherished, nurtured and encouraged."

He highlights the dangers in leaning too far toward the utilitarian and neglecting the value of visionary research and critical thinking.  He concludes:

"The challenge we face is that we must confront an erroneous a prevalent perception that the necessary focus of higher education must be on that which is utilitarian and immediately applicable. Such a view sees the primary objective of the university, and those who study within it, as being in preparation for a specific role within the labour market, often at the cost of the development of life-enhancing skills such as creativity, analytical thinking, and clarity in written and spoken expression. These are the skills that will be essential to the citizens of the future to make informed choices about life/work balance, about what constitutes survival and consumption, and what is meant by human flourishing, solidarity or humanity itself."

"It is through critical and engaged pedagogy that we can be assured that we are engaging . . . a generation that will have the capacity to understand and question the assumptions of any status quo, and to understand when that status quo must be challenged and how; a generation who will have the confidence and the wisdom to engage in alternative visions of what a society can be, and bring it into being."

So what does this all mean for water? I cannot help but think that the safety and sustainability of our water supplies hinges on our ability to bring the utilitarian and the ideal together, to feed and shelter the world without compromising anyone's ability to live in it. We are fortunate to have passionate and skilled people within and outside of our colleges and universities working to accomplish this goal. I have every confidence in our ability to get the job done.


Rebecca Power, Network Director

Country Life Commission. 1909. Report of the Country Life Commission. United States Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Important Item:

Call for photos! 
You see amazing things. Every day. We want to see what you see - whether it's people working hard for cleaner water, a new generation of water researchers or water stewards, or a beautiful sunset over your favorite lake. We want to see your originals . These images will be repurposed for future North Central Region Water Network newsletters, webinars, on the website, and other educational materials. We have created five categories but feel free to create your own. Submit up to 5 of and encourage your colleagues to submit theirs as well! 

Photographers often see what is invisible to the human eye, hidden, or taken for granted. Take us further, to what is beyond the surface.

Please submit in the following categories: 
  1. Recreational Water Use
  2. Water at Work
  3. Water at Risk
  4. Water Research and Extension
  5. The Beauty of Water 
Please fill in your info here and access instructions will be sent to you:  Photo Upload Access


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: 
General: [email protected]
Network Initiatives
Visit our  Network Initiatives Page for more information on previous and current initiatives, and future funding opportunities. 

Professional Development for Extension Professionals and Educators on Land Use and Management Practice to Enhance Water Quality


Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been identified as the leading cause of impairment to surface water throughout the plains states. The leading source of this impairment has been identified as non- point source pollution from livestock grazing and livestock feeding and handling operations. Other common sources impairment that have been linked to livestock production include fecal coliform, excess nutrients and eutrophication. 
Best management practices have been identified for:  1) Nutrient and manure management and  2) Land use practices within watersheds that enhance water quality
The project  will provide technical in-service training and program curriculum on:  1) Land use of riparian ecosystems and  2) Manure and nutrient management for Extension Specialists, Extension Agents and Educators at Regional Universities, Community Colleges and 1994 Institutions within the Great Plains Region. 
The program is comprised of in-service trainings held in North Dakota and South Dakota.  Each in-service is two days with a day allocated to each of the topic areas. Each day is formatted to include a classroom component, a hands on technical component, and wrap-up discussion. The technical training portion of the in-services demonstrates assessment methods, sampling techniques and exhibit management practices. This hands-on training will engage participants and project partners resulting in co-learning and co-discovery of new knowledge. Program participants will develop technical skills and knowledge that will enhance their ability to develop innovative solutions for the management of livestock and the enhancement of water quality. Upon completion of the in-service, participants will be supplied with curriculum on the topics covered to utilize in Extension programs and courses.
Intended Impacts
The in-service and curriculum will empower Extension Professionals and Educators to conduct programs and course work on nutrient and manure management and land use within riparian ecosystems, increasing the awareness of producers and students on the topic in the short term and resulting in changes in land management and water quality in the long term.
South Dakota Workshop, June 22-24, 2016

North Dakota Workshop, June 28-29, 2016:

Miranda Meehan
Extension Livestock Environmental Stewardship Specialist, North Dakota State University


Leadership Spotlight: Purdue University

Each month we call attention to a significant state-led project and associated leadership team member from our Network. 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. 

Building Capacity for Effective Watershed Management

The need for watershed leadership education: Locally-led watershed management is widely considered to be an important strategy for addressing nonpoint source pollution. However, leading a local watershed organization thatsucceeds at bringing about real change is a challenging task, requiring a complex mix of knowledge and abilities. Few people possess all the needed skills, which include competency in natural science disciplines like hydrology and biology, as well as leadership skills such as strategic planning, fundraising, and conflict management. Watershed leaders also need a basic knowledge of water policy at local, state, and federal levels; education skills including audience analysis and evaluation, project management, and communication skills. Technology skills such as GIS, load calculation, BMP effectiveness modeling can also be beneficial. 

Extension responses to this need:  Extension is uniquely placed to provide education to help people attain the complex mix of skills needed for effective watershed management. Several North Central Region Extension academies to build water quality and watershed leadership capacity were described and compared in a recent article in  Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education (Wolfson et al., 2015) . The Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy is one of the programs  described in the article, together with the Ohio Watershed Academy , the Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute , and the Minnesota Watershed Specialist Training .   
The Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy:  The 11 th class of the Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy  is currently underway, and the 30 participants this year have gathered for overnight face-to-face class workshops;  completed web-based distance learning that include readings, videos, and practical assignments; and are working on group projects.  When they graduate May 25, they will join more than 320 previous graduates of the program, who include watershed coordinators, community officials, engineers, planners, stormwater managers, conservation agency staff, and citizen volunteers. The significant commitment that participants make to participate in this 5-month program leads to real impacts on the effectiveness of their watershed management efforts, as well as to the Professional Certificate in Watershed Management that they earn.  Building capacity for effective watershed management is an important way that Extension contributes to improving water quality in the state and region. 

Jane Frankenberger,  Professor Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University
Jane Frankenberger is a Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She earned a B.A. in Physics from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, an M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University. Before joining the ABE Department in 1996, she spent eight years working in Africa, both in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and in Senegal. In 2002-2003, she worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agricultu re (USDA) in Washington DC, focusing on TMDLs and the role of land grant university extension and research in the TMDL process Jane is responsible for the Purdue Extension program in soil and water engineering and water management and currently serves as the Extension Water Quality Coordinator. She has led numerous water quality projects throughout Indiana, working with communities and public water supply systems both to develop source water protection strategies and to manage drinking water quality. She has written extension publications on watershed management and assessment, wellhead protection, drinking water testing and treatment, and land use impacts on water quality. Her research focuses on watershed management and TMDLs in agricultural watersheds, and water and nitrate flux to subsurface drainage tiles. She teaches a graduate-level course on spatial analysis, "Geographic Information Systems Applications." Publication reprints available upon  request   or  at  Google Scholar .


The Current Webinar Series: May 18, 2016
2:00-3:00 pm CT
"Developing Capacity for Local Watershed Management"

  • Anne Baird and Joe Bonnell, The Ohio State University,  Professional Development Needs on Water Resource Managers: Core Competencies
  • Lois Wolfson, Michigan State University and Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University,  Perspective from four Watershed Academy Programs on Training Water Resource Professionals
  • Anne Lewandowski, University of Minnesota,  Professional Training Methods: The Role of Online Learning
View my videos on YouTube


Climate Change and Water for Agriculture Education for Extension Professionals Webinar Series
May 16, 2016 @ 1:00 pm CT, June 15, 2016 @ 1:00 pm CT
Participants will be empowered to use the new relationships and knowledge gained to improve programming in the water resource program area, particularly impacting the ability of the network to generate measurable economic, environmental, and social impacts in the short and long-term, with a focus on watershed planning and climate change and adaptation. More info.

2016 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention
April 28-30, 2016: Boyne Falls, MI
The Convention is expected to draw more than 400 people and dozens of exhibitors. Included in the three-day event will be keynote addresses from distinguished speakers, workshops, field trips, concurrent sessions on a wide range of topics, receptions, door prizes, and plenty of networking opportunities.  More info.
Funding Opportunities
North Central Region Water Network: Extension and Capacity-Building Seed Funding  
Deadline: May 2, 2016 
Lead applicants must have an Extension appointment/assignment at a land-grant institution in the North Central Region. The purpose of this request for applications is to support the goals of the North Central Region Water Network. A maximum of $80,000 will be awarded, with each award being up to $30,000. It is anticipated that three to six awards will be made through this application.

EPA FY16 and FY17 Region 07 Wetland Program Development Grants
Deadline: May 5, 2016
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting proposals from eligible applicants to build or refine state/tribal/local government wetland programs. States, tribes, local government agencies, interstate agencies, and intertribal consortia are eligible to apply under this announcement.    Projects must be performed within one or more of the states of EPA Region 7, specifically  Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and/or Nebraska , to be eligible to apply for funding.   More info.  

Conservation Innovation Grants
May 10, 2016
NRCS is piloting a concentrated approach for awarding CIGs to address the nation's top natural resource priorities. This new approach allows NRCS to aggressively impact the natural resource areas of critical concern. The CIG focus for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 is 
Water Quality and Conservation Finance. More info.
In Case You Missed it...
The Current Webinar 17:  Developing a Land-grant Institution Soil Health Network in the North Central Region
  • Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Iowa State University - Iowa Soil Health Conference: Lessons learned on hosting a soil health conference
  • Walt Sell, Purdue University and Lisa Holscher - Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI): How Extension, SWCD, ISDA and NRCS work together for soil health programming
  • Paul Gross, Michigan State University - North Central Region Soil Health Group: Building a soil health network across state lines

Fields to Streams: Managing Water in Rural Landscapes Publication
"Fields to Streams: Managing Water in Rural Landscapes" is a new on-line and print publication from the University of Minnesota. It is designed to help conservation staff work with landowners to understand the science and practice of managing water in rural landscapes. The 100 page booklet uses extensive graphics and concise explanations about the water cycle and land management practices that can be used to reduce the rate of erosion and sediment loss from rural streams.

The online publication is available for free download from University of Minnesota Extension at   and the print version is available from the University of Minnesota Bookstore website  under Books, UM Extension Publications.

NCRWN Fact Sheet
Want to see what we have been up to in the North Central Region Water Network? Check out our new fact sheet for more details. 
N CRWN is now on Facebook
Like us on Facebook
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.   
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