By: Hilary Pierce, ISU Extension Outreach Specialist, 

The fall 2019 Iowa Watershed Academy was held on October 22nd and 23rd at the ISU Field Extension Education Lab near Boone.

Attendees at Watershed AcademyGreat discussions were had during the academy and many questions were asked and answered. Experienced watershed coordinators and conservation professionals were able to share their personal experiences to guide those who were new to their projects. The academy also provided a setting where participants from all over the state could network and forge new connections with those who can provide expertise or support for their projects, as well as learn about what other projects are accomplishing.

The academy began with Jamie Benning, the Water Quality Program Manager at Iowa State University Extension, and Clare Lindahl, CEO of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, who facilitated a discussion and planning session on building and maintaining strong partnerships. The afternoon session focused on practice monitoring: Kent Heikens, National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment, showcased the techniques and instruments for monitoring saturated buffers, Natasha Hoover, ISU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, discussed how to monitor bioreactors and Tony Seeman, Iowa Soybean Association, outlined field edge, tile drain and watershed monitoring processes used by ISA. The afternoon session also included information about new federal funding opportunities related to source water protection from Jon Hubbert, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service. The day wrapped up with Clare Lindahl sharing how failures can be stepping stones to success.

Attendees at Watershed AcademyDay two kicked off with a presentation from Jessie Brown, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, on how to use social media for effective outreach and partner connections. The following field session focused on the intersection between water quality and wildlife benefits of conservation practices. At the research farm’s bioreactor and restored oxbow attendees heard from Kay Stefanik, Assistant Director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and Adam Janke, ISU Extension Wildlife Specialist. Later, Jamie Benning and Chris Hiher, Pheasants Forever, talked about field borders, cover crops, and in-field management practices. Wrapping up the field tour, attendees visited a saturated buffer, which had been seeded with pollinator habitat, and heard from Tom Isenhart, Iowa State University, and Allie Rath, Pheasants Forever. After the field tour and lunch, attendees were guided through a planning session for the Regional Clean Water, Wildlife Habitat and Healthy Soil Workshop series to be held in 2020 where watershed coordinators will partner with NRCS, Pheasants Forever, and agricultural and conservation organizations to reach new farmers and landowners with conservation opportunities.

Learn more about the Iowa State University Extension Conservation Learning Group and the Iowa Watershed Academy.