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November 2017 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update

A Plate Full of Thanks

My Thanksgiving plate was full this year, and for that, I am grateful. I am grateful to all of the people who made the meal possible - the turkey farmer, the cranberry grower, and how could I forget our Wisconsin cheese producers? Then th ere is my sister's friend, now my friend too, who shared her family's delicious Nigerian fish stew, and my husband's north Indian dal and seasoned rice. While I fondly remember Thanksgivings at home with the simpler Midwestern menu, I am grateful for the eclectic mix of flavors we now have at our table. Finally, I am grateful for the time my sister and I spent together baking pumpkin pie, though I must confess I'm not as grateful for the pie still tempting me from my refrigerator!

In this newsletter, we share stories with you about people and projects that are accomplishing all kinds of things on the front lines of water research, education, and management. There are also folks behind the scenes who make immeasurable contributions. This month, I want to extend a special thank you to someone who's leaving his current role with the Network as well as the folks who provide support for the North Central Region Water Network.

Who are the people in your professional life that deserve extra thanks? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section of our blog.

Joe Bonnell, The Ohio State University - Joe Bonnell is one of the longest serving extension water coordinators in the North Central Region. At the end of this year, he will embark on a new adventure and career with his family in the Dominican Republic.  During his time in Ohio, Joe trained and mentored hundreds of watershed leaders and made substantial contributions to our understanding of the core knowledge and skills that are necessary for watershed leaders to be successful.

Jamey Burns, University of Wisconsin - Jamey helps keep the North Central Region Water Network website up and running and created the Soil Health Nexus website. Jamey comes from a graphic design background but loves the technical aspect of web development. He loves the pace at which the industry progresses and he is always learning new skills. When not in front of a computer screen, Jamey enjoys photography, screen printing, woodworking, skiing and especially spending time with his family.

Sarah Congdon, University of Wisconsin - Sarah is a Senior Artist at the UW Environmental Resources Center (ERC). She brings visual life to North Central Region Water Network reports, fact sheets, and websites. Sarah combines an artistic eye with a talent for communicating ideas clearly and elegantly. She makes the most challenging job seem easy!

Janice Kepka, University of Wisconsin - Janice's expertise in instructional design makes the North Central Region Water Network's signature webinar series possible. She has a knack for explaining educational technology to a diversity of users, and she combines her technical skills with a love of conservation and agriculture. Janice manages family farmland in southwest Minnesota, a responsibility that enhances her appreciation of the ongoing need to engage and connect farmers, landowners, conservationists, and citizens in a common goal to protect natural resources.

Brian Kline, University of Wisconsin - Brian grew up on the shores of Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh. He seamlessly blends his love for Wisconsin's natural resources with his support for ERC programs, including the North Central Region Water Network. He keeps our budgets on track and provides critical human resources services with a can-do attitude carried over from his time in the U.S. Marine Corps and private industry.

Martha Martin, University of Wisconsin - Martha keeps us organized and does it with a sparkle of humor that makes the most mundane tasks more fun. She and our colleague Leah Leighty at CALS Conference Services are the reasons our events run smoothly and on budget. She is an extraordinary editor. She keeps us on track by taking notes for our meetings and reminding us if we've missed a "to-do" or are about to miss a deadline.  Who could ask for more?!

Amber Mase, University of Wisconsin -  Amber helps all of us in the North Central Region Water Network measure and communicate the impact of our programs. While some of us avoid evaluation like we avoid the last of the leftover turkey, Amber provides a helping hand and a good dose of laughter to get us through.

Anne Nardi, University of Wisconsin - Anne is the newest addition to our team. With a diverse communications background, she has been learning lightning-fast what the North Central Region Water Network is all about. Anne is doing great work to support Network members addressing climate, soil health, manure and nutrient management, watershed management, stormwater, youth water programming, and a host of other issues.

Hunter Reed, University of Wisconsin - Hunter is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying communication arts, digital studies and environmental studies. He has experience in journalistic writing, editing and online production through his work at the Badger Herald student newspaper. As an undergraduate, Hunter helped fill a short-term gap in our communication team and did amazing work to keep us up and running. Thank you, Hunter! 


Rebecca Power, Network Director

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Network Initiatives

Visit our  Network Initiative page  for more information on current and previous initiatives, and future funding opportunities. 

Providing the Foundation for Lasting Climate Education in the North Central Region

Our climate is changing and changes in climate have been a defining factor in agriculture and water quality within the North Central Region. Extreme weather events have the capacity to drastically impact our waterways, and climate variability creates shifts in crops, cropping seasons, and plant hardiness zones. Moreover, the farm management practices that coincide with these changes greatly influence water quality and management.
Extension professionals play a key role in supporting farmers by providing education, resources, and research to strengthen decision-making. Changes in climate continue to present challenges for both farmers and extension professionals alike and research shows that both groups need additional education on climate science and guidance on climate change adaptation practices. For example, a survey of North Central agriculture and natural resource county extension professionals conducted in 2015 showed that 54% had low capacity and an additional 38% had moderate capacity to adequately answer constituent's questions about climate change (Tomlinson et al., 2015).
These findings highlight the need within extension to build core competencies in the area of climate science, climate change, and its impacts on agriculture in order for educators to engage farmers in discussing the realities of a changing climate and the adaptation strategies that need to be employed to ensure success.
The Regional Climate Team of the North Central Region Water Network is utilizing their diverse expertise to create and manage education around agriculture, water, and climate in the region. Collectively the team is working to educate and influence decision makers who manage agriculture and natural resources to adopt climate-smart practices with an eye towards water management, while maintaining profitability.

A variety of methods for extension professional development are being provided including sub-regional workshops, webinars, conference calls and financial support for local programming. Each of these methods embraces a "train-the-trainer" method to disseminate research and ensure sustainable management practices across the region. Partnerships with the USDA Climate Hubs and Drought Early Warning Systems, in both the Missouri River Basin and Midwest Region, will contribute to the success of the team and broaden its reach. 
Project Contact
Laura Edwards
Project Director, South Dakota State University
Tomlinson P., L. Lebenow, T. Williams, and J. Clark. 2015. Perspective of Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension Educators on Climate Change and Resource Needs for the North Central Region. In Annual Meetings Abstracts. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Leadership Spotlight

Each month we call attention to a significant state-led project and associated leadership within 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. 

Watershed Committee of the Ozarks combines quality and quantity to reach new success
The University of Missouri Extension is dedicated to building capacity, empowering  local communities, an d ensuring each area has the tools and  resources  to be successful in protecting water resources. As a part of this work, UM Extension partners with the  Watershed Committee of the Ozarks  in watershed planning and education to sustain and support water resources in Southwest Missouri.

The Watershed Committee of the Ozarks  is comprised of diverse local citizens who are committed to protecting water within Greene County and beyond through effective management and education. From monitoring local streams and wells, and working with community partners to reduce non-point source pollution, to restoring local habitat, the projects the committee works on span the water-related gamut. However, according to Mike Kromrey, the committee's Executive Director, it is the expansion of their educational efforts that inspires him the most.

The committee's home-base and the center of their educational mission lives at the Watershed Center at Valley Water Mill Park. Their educational efforts strive to "give all citizens information and experiences which improve their understanding of local water resources and encourage the stewardship of those resources." The Watershed Center welcomes school groups, professional associations, and community organizations for workshops and field trips focusing on providing place-based education on Southwest Missouri's water resources.
This past summer, the Watershed Center had what Kromrey called the "dream team", made up of talented summer interns, volunteers, a Watershed Center Fellow, and a grant technician. Not even half-way through the year they were in record-setting territory for the number of participants served through the center. Among the center initiatives was the Splash! Program, a partnership with Springfield Public Schools, which brought over 750 second and third graders from 22 area elementary schools to the center to explore watersheds, aquatic life, water pollution, and the sources of their drinking water. The team also partnered with the Springfield Art Museum to visit classrooms and host students with an innovative curriculum focused on combining art and science for enhanced learning. Then this fall, the team brought over 550 seventh grade students to the center for the Greener Greenspaces program where the students were tasked with creating proposals for Greener Greenspaces at their schools. The students are sharing their proposals with their classmates and the top proposal will be put to action thanks to funding by Springfield Public Schools.
These are just a few examples of the educational programs that have grown out of the commitment and passion shown by Mike and the entire Watershed Committee team. Together, they are ensuring quality, age-appropriate, hands-on programming for individuals of all ages and knowledge levels.  It is this quality, and their commitment to inclusive partnership that is leading to record-breaking quantity of programs. According to Mike, it is not everyday that quality and quantity go hand in hand, but when it does, it is a reflection of a productive team, common goals, and broad involvement across the community.
Mike Kromrey, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks

Mike Kromrey is the Executive Director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and is passionate about water resources and the mission of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Previously, he worked with the James River Basin Partnership, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Missouri State University while attending MSU. 
Kromrey has a BS in comprehensive biology with an emphasis in ecology evolution and systematics and a MS in biology focusing on aquatic ecosystems from MSU. In his free time, Mike loves spending time outdoors canoeing and fishing with friends and family.

NGWA Groundwater Summit
December 4-7, 2017
Industry professionals from around the world at will gather at the National Ground Water Association's Groundwater Summit, which will focus on all things groundwater. The theme of this year's event is "Instrumental to your research and practice."  The summit will feature opportunities to s hare knowledge, l earn from leading experts, and c ollaborate with peers.

National Conference on Cover Crops & Soil Health
December 7-8, 2017
The Soil and Water Conservation Society is hosting the second National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. This meeting will be an opportunity to learn about recent developments in how cover crops are being used by innovative farmers across the country and gain important insights on improving soil health from producers, conservation leaders, and scientists.

Michigan State University Extension Online Water Course
January 23-March 9, 2018
MSUE announced they will be piloting an Introduction to Lakes online course in early 2018. For more details about the course or to register, visit the  MSU Extension Introduction to Lakes webpage . The cost of the course is $115 per person. Register by December 22, 2017 for an early bird discounted price of $95 per person.  Registration ends January 16, 2018.

Rising Voices: Mobilizing Learning from Local to Global
April 11-13, 2018
The Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions program is hosting their 6th annual workshop in Duluth, Minnesota in April 2018. Attendees will experience a  rich and honest discussion regarding the complex climate change challenges facing Indigenous peoples, current adaptation and mitigation strategies, protection of Indigenous knowledge, sustainable Indigenous practices, and political and institutional barriers. 

6th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop
May 22-24, 2018
The 16th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop (CPASW) will bring together a diverse group of climate researchers, service producers, decision-makers, and other users to accelerate developments in the research and applications of climate information for societal decision-making. The 2018 CPASW will be hosted by the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Services Branch, North Dakota State University, and other climate services partners. Abstract deadline is January 26, 2018. Registration starts March 15, 2018.

Do you know of an upcoming water or conservation event in the Midwest? Add it to the NCRWN website here
Funding and Other Opportunities
Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants Program
In FY 2018, NIFA's CFP intends to solicit applications and fund Community Food Projects (CFP). The primary goals of the CFP are to: Meet the food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; Increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for the food needs of communities; Promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues; and Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to: Equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project; Planning for long-term solutions; or The creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Applications are due by December 4, 2017.  Learn more.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
The purpose of the SCRI program is to address the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding grants to support research and extension that addresses key challenges of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. Projects must address at least one of five focus areas:
  • Research in plant breeding, genetics, genomics, and other methods to improve crop characteristics
  • Efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases, including threats to specialty crop pollinators
  • Efforts to improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term (including specialty crop policy and marketing)
  • New innovations and technology, including improved mechanization and technologies that delay or inhibit ripening
  • Methods to prevent, detect, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards in the production efficiency, handling and processing of specialty crops.
Applications are due by December 8, 2017. Learn more.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP)
Beginning farmer education for adult and young audiences in the United States can generally be traced back to the advent of the 1862 and 1890 Morrill Land Grant Acts. But for the first time, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub .L. No. 110-234, Section 7410) appropriated $75 million for FY 2009 to FY 2012 to develop and offer education, training, outreach and mentoring programs to enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The Agriculture Act of 2014 provided an additional $20 million per year for 2014 through 2018. The reasons for the renewed interest in beginning farmer and rancher programs are as follows: the rising average age of U.S. farmers; the 8% projected decrease in the number of farmers and ranchers between 2008 and 2018; and the growing recognition that new programs are needed to address the needs of the next generation of beginning farmers and ranchers.  

Applications are due by February 8, 2018. Learn more.

In Case You Missed it...

The Current  is a speed networking webinar series for professionals engaged in water-related extension, research, and conservation activities. The North Central Region Water Network and Extension Directors from all 12 North Central states sponsor this series to highlight the best water-related research and Extension programming in the region. Webinars run for 60 minutes, with three 10-minute project snapshots and 30 minutes of QA/peer-to-peer interaction.

Most Recent Webinar: 

November 8, 2017, The Current 33: Conservation Practice Tracking for the Mississippi River Basin

This webinar provided an overview of conservation and water quality tracking across the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB). Discussion focused on the overall need for tracking and what is being done on the state and regional level. Speakers included:
  • Katie Flahive, Agricultural Engineer, Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Julie Harrold, Program Manager Water Quality Initiatives, Division of Soil Conservation, Indiana State Department of Agriculture
  • Reid D. Christianson, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Iowa becomes first state to offer crop insurance discounts for cover crops
Iowa is launching a first-in-the-country "good farmer discount" for cover crops through crop insurance premiums, which could become a model for the nation. It will provide a small, $5 per-acre incentive for cover crops planted on "new" cover crop acres, which are not already receiving cost share for the practice. Learn more.

U.S. corn, soybean acreage to expand in 2018-19
U.S. farmers are likely to plant a record amount of land with soybeans in 2018 and will also boost the area devoted to most other major crops according to the USDA.   If the forecasts are borne out, then another year of bumper supply could prolong a global glut of grains that has kept prices of soybean and corn depressed for years. Low prices for basic grains have hurt farmers' incomes worldwide.  Learn more.

New report on Great Lakes pushes monitoring, regulations for farmers
A new  report from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national agency, says the Great Lakes restoration continues to progress -- but not quickly enough. Learn more.

Learn more about NCRWN
NCRWN Fact Sheet
Want to see what we have been up to in the North Central Region Water Network? Check out our fact sheet for more details. 

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.

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