Watershed Leadership

Building Human Capital For Successful Watershed Management

Collaborative watershed management is a key solution in addressing non-point pollution of surface waters in the North Central Region and beyond, and skilled leadership is essential for the success of this approach. Watershed and conservation professionals, farmers, non-operating landowners, civic leaders, and committed residents all can play valuable roles as watershed leaders.

The North Central Region Water Network and our member land-grant universities are building the capacity of watershed leaders to engage stakeholders in reducing non-point pollution of lakes, rivers, and streams through training, peer learning, and resource development.

Watershed management entails engaging key stakeholder groups to identify water quality impairments, develop water quality goals, and collaborate on strategies and actions to address the impairments (USEPA, 2005). Non-point sources of pollution are considered the most common cause of impairment to water quality in the U.S. (USEPA, 2016). In the North Central Region, nutrient and sediment runoff from agricultural land is associated with lake eutrophication, including harmful algal blooms in the western Lake Erie basin, and is considered a significant contributor to the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Network is focused on building the “human capital” necessary for successful watershed management, particularly given the challenges watershed leaders often face, including demanding jobs, insufficient training, and sometimes isolated efforts. Human capital includes the knowledge, skills, and networks that help watershed leaders engage community stakeholders effectively.

Current Projects

The Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins (MARB) Watershed Leadership Network

This is an inclusive group of farmer and non-farmer leaders who are working in their communities and states to reduce nutrient pollution to the Mississippi River and shrink the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. More >>

Farmer-to-Farmer Conservation Learning and Leadership Project

This project is creating ways for farmers to learn from each other about how to implement conservation practices and reap the benefits for both their farms and communities. More >>

Do you lead work in watershed management? Engage with us!

We produce two communication channels to inform and empower watershed leaders.

Human Capital blog series

This blog series features insights and stories to help watershed leaders tap their true potential for achieving clean water in the Midwest and beyond. Peruse posts >>

The Confluence newsletter

A quarterly email newsletter with first-hand perspectives, news, and opportunities related to watershed management, policy, research, and funding in the Mississippi River Basin. It also features the latest posts from our Human Capital blog series.  Subscribe >>