Conservation at the Capitol

Despite the weather conditions, Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) commissioners as well as other conservation, soil health, and water quality stakeholders from across the state descended upon the State Capitol yesterday for Iowa’s annual Conservation Partnership Day.  There were many familiar and friendly faces – we cross paths often in the conservation world —  all showcasing the great “on the ground” efforts to increase adoption of conservation practices statewide! A special note of thanks goes out to our friends at Conservation Districts of Iowa for their work in organizing this year’s event.

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Inside the rotunda of the Capitol, each of the invited conservation partners set up a display to showcase the work being done for soil health and water quality. Iowa Learning Farms showcased its conservation outreach successes, particularly with field days, while the Water Rocks! youth education program showcased its impressive youth outreach numbers from the past year. Numerous county SWCDs created posters to highlight local conservation efforts, visiting with senators, representatives, and their staffers, celebrating the theme Our Water – Our Land – Our People.

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Mid-morning, we were visited by two special guests of honor: Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds (she agrees that Water Rocks!) …

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… and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey!

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In addition to the displays in the rotunda, many SWCD commissioners took the opportunity to organize meetings with their local legislators to highlight the programs, practices, and funding issues that are most important in their districts to ensure clean water and healthy soils. Coming off an election year, there were new legislators as well as new commissioners in the house – an excellent opportunity for both parties to “learn the ropes” and see the wide variety of work being done for conservation here in Iowa.

One of the brand new ways that Iowa Learning Farms is helping to spread the conservation message is through our hot-off-the-press TALKING WITH YOUR TENANT publication series, distributed for the first time yesterday at Conservation Partnership Day. The engaging publications were very well received and fostered a number of good conversations throughout the day. Stay tuned to the blog for more information coming soon about this exciting new series of user-friendly, infographic-style handouts!

Ann Staudt