Past Network Initiatives

Seed Funded Projects 2016

Expanding the Role of Extension Professionals in National Drought Monitoring
This project began with a kick-off meeting in the Fall of 2016 with North Central Region climate and Extension leaders in agriculture, water and natural resources.  This initial kick-off meeting reviewed current and historical efforts to create a team of Extension climate leaders in the Region, assessed best management practices for building this team, activities the team could undertake, ongoing operations, and goals for determining the success of the team.  This project was a precursor to the North Central Climate Collaborative

Project Contact
Laura Edwards
Extension State Climatologist

Manure & Soil Health: Understanding and Advancing the Science
This team developed research, outreach, funding priorities and produced an online inventory of soil health training and educational resources as well as a list of soil health related research projects applicable in the North Central Region. In 2016 and 2017, the team helped sponsor the Iowa Soil Health conference, providing a professional development opportunity for more than 30 extension educators from the North Central region. In 2017, the team launched the Soil Health Nexus website, began producing monthly research/outreach articles, and completed four soil health roundtables with nearly 400 people attending. This project was a precursor to the Soil Health Nexus.

Project Contact
Rick Koelsch
Professor of Biological Systems Engineering & Animal Science Extension Livestock Waste Management

Establishing an Aquatic Invasive Species Working Group
The goal of the AIS Working Group was to establish and organize an extension based network to focus on AIS issues in the North Central Region.  Specifically, the project aimed to c
onnect NCRWN extension professionals interested in AIS issues across the region to collectively address regional AIS issues and take advantage of regional funding opportunities as they arise; collaborate with the Mississippi River Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel (MRBP) by appointing an extension representative to further solidify engagement and facilitate connections between extension and state-level AIS personnel and natural resource managers; and engage more citizens and natural resource managers in AIS management activities to prevent new AIS invasions.

Project Contact
Tim Campbell
Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Ten Ways to Reduce Nitrate Loss from Drained Lands: A Comprehensive Multimedia Outreach Package
For this project, a group of extension professionals along with agricultural organization partners developed a comprehensive package of information about these drainage water quality-improvement practices. The Ten Ways strategies include in-field cropping and management strategies (i.e., practices that reduce nitrate in the root zone), in-field strategies that modify the drainage system (i.e., practices that reduce delivery of nitrate to the field’s edge), and edge-of-field strategies (i.e., practices that remove nitrate at the edge of the field or downstream).

Project Contact
Laura Christianson
Assistant Professor, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

Building Collaboration Between 1862 Land Grant Universities and Tribal Colleges in the North Central Region
This project helped organize and support an “Extension Water Summit” which led to improved communication and collaboration amongst 1994 land grants (Tribal Colleges) and the 1862 land grants (state universities). Leading up to the water summit, communications were enhanced between these groups with the sharing of ideas via a listserv and conference calls, organized around compelling topics. Learning about other regional projects was a key part of this activity.

Project Contact
Charles Barden
Professor, Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources

Seed Funded Projects 2015.2

Multi-State Water Rocks! Youth Education Summit
Water Rocks! partnered with university Extension youth programs in South Dakota, Missouri, and Illinois to conduct professional development workshops. These workshop offered training for their non-formal youth educators on a multitude of hands-on, interactive educational modules to help teach classroom lessons on water, soil, agriculture, environmental science, and more.

Project Contact
Jacqueline Comito
Director, Water Rocks!, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Regional Soil Health Capacity Building
The Regional Soil Health Capacity Building project created a North Central Soil Health Work Group with representatives from Land Grant Universities across the 12 state region. The work team members participated in a soil health conference to improve their knowledge in soil health and develop a common body of knowledge and accepted science that will be used in developing the regional framework to address soil health education. This team was the foundation for an ongoing collaborative multi-state network that’s goal is to increase the visibility and understanding of soil health for Extension educators, agency professionals, agronomists, Certified Crop Advisors and farmers in the North Central Region. The team developed and delivered soil health education at field days, workshops, webinars and printed resources. This project was a precursor to the Soil Health Nexus.

Project Contact
Kevin Erb
Conservation Professional Training Program Coordinator, University of Wisconsin Extension

Climate Change and Water for Agriculture Education for Extension Professionals
The Climate Change and Water for Agriculture Education for Extension Professionals assembled a team of climatological and agriculture experts who are in Extension roles in the NC region. The team served as leaders for a six‐part educational webinar series on climate change in NC region’s agriculture and water resources and built off of lessons learned and collaborations with the Corn CAP, Grazing CAP and the USDA Regional Climate Hubs. The intention was to provide educational opportunities for Extension professionals, by Extension professionals, who are in similar roles and understand first‐hand how Extension works. This project was a precursor to the North Central Climate Collaborative (NC3).

Project Contact
Laura Edwards
SDSU Extension, Extension Climate Field Specialist

Daily Erosion Project and Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework-Extension Tools for Addressing Soil and Water Degradation
To further knowledge of the DEP and ACPF tools, two, two-day trainings for Extension personnel in water resources and watershed managers was conducted. This training required the development of training materials for DEP and enable users to better navigate the DEP website and interpret the results contained therein. Focusing Extension and outreach planning and educational energy in these watersheds offered a disproportionate benefit to water (and soil) quality. The ACPF was then used to suggest site appropriate Best Management Practices (BMPs) in addition to practices that are generally applicable, such as no- till, strip-till, and cover crops.

Project Contact
Richard M. Cruse
Professor, Agronomy and Iowa Water Center, Iowa State University

Professional Development for Extension Professionals and Educators on Land Use and Management Practice to Enhance Water Quality
This program provided 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 was comprised of an in-service training held within North Dakota and South Dakota/Nebraska. Each in-service was formatted to include a classroom component, a hands-on technical component, and wrap- up discussion. The technical training portion of the in-services helped demonstrate assessment methods, sampling techniques and exhibit management practices.

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

Seed Funded Projects 2015

Capacity Building Workshop for Irrigation Professionals in the North Central Region
This project was designed to help farmers and ranchers make research-based decisions about how and when to use water for irrigation, and to promote scientifically-proven practices that preserve and protect water resources. Specifically, this project used a train-the-trainer model to disseminate best management practices for irrigation across six states of the North Central region and to increase multi-state connectivity among university professionals and partners. Additionally, a subgroup of participants collaborated to explore potential grant opportunities to sustain irrigation best management practices across the North Central region. Specifically, future grant opportunities enabling participants to investigate best practices for producing measurable water quality results from sensor-based irrigation water management were explored.

Project Contact
Joshua Stamper
Extension Irrigation Specialist, University of Minnesota
(612) 626-4986

Mapping the Pathways for Effective Dissemination and Education between Manure Nutrient Management Agriculture Professionals
The goal of this Professional Development Project was to establish documented and effective pathways for information dissemination and use among manure nutrient management professionals. The short-term outcomes were 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.

Project Contact
Erin Cortus
Extension Specialist, South Dakota State University

Integrating Volunteer Nutrient Monitoring and Outreach With Extension Across States
The primary goal of this project was to increase connectivity between Extension educators and volunteer nutrient monitoring program personnel and spread relevant knowledge across the upper Midwest region. Specifically, the project team aimed to increase knowledge of existing educational outreach materials and programs related to nutrients and resulting impacts on waters, Extension agriculture and natural resource educators, both within Extension and across volunteer water monitoring programs, volunteer monitoring programs and their goals and methods for monitoring nutrients and the resulting impacts on waters by both other volunteer monitoring programs and by Extension.

Project Contact
Kris Stepenuck
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Extension
(608) 265-3887

Watershed Management: Developing Leadership Capacity in Collaboration and Civic Engagement for Collective Action
The purpose of this project was to strengthen the capacity of the land-grant universities in the North Central Region to provide educational programs and resources in the social dimensions of watershed management for watershed leaders. This project aimed to identify the knowledge and skills watershed leaders in the North Central Region need to effectively lead civic engagement and collaboration, and create a strategy to support Extension program development to address the need for educational curriculum development on collaborative leadership and civic engagement.

Project Contact
Joe Bonnell, PhD
Program Director, School of Environment and Natural Resources 

Seed Funded Projects 2014

Stormwater Core Curriculum
The goal of this project was to develop a stormwater training with regionally uniform content and locally-specific research that can be readily used by educators, local governments and stormwater professionals to optimize their stormwater operations. 

Project Contact
Shahram Missaghi, PhD
Extension Educator, University of Minnesota
(952) 221-1333

Mentoring for Early Career Extension Educators: A Systems Approach to Nutrient Management
This project conducted a needs assessment and, based on the results of that assessment, designed a mentoring program for early-career Extension Educators focusing on systems approaches to nutrient management for water quality at the field, farm, and watershed scale. The project team convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to outline the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate systems approaches to nutrient management. Early service Extension educators from around the region were recruited to participate in three webinars on systems approaches to nutrient management.

Project Contact
Anne Baird
Program Director, The Ohio State University

Web-Based Environmental Assessment Tool Expansion
This project investigated the potential for expanding the Wisconsin Water Star program to Michigan and Ohio through integrating Wisconsin Water Star with Michigan State University’s environmental assessment tool, the Ecological Score Card. The final report outlined a strategy to support the wider adoption of Michigan and Wisconsin’s existing web based environmental assessments in the NCR, and discussed the opportunities for further integration of these existing tools into a common, regional, web based presence.

Project Contact
Jeremiah Asher
Director of Information Technology
Institute of Water Research, Michigan State University
(517) 432-5586

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