October - December 2002
Darwin Miller , Hardin county extension educational director
Row crop agriculture in Iowa and Illinois has been identified as a major contributor to the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico . This has resulted in water quality becoming a critical issue for Iowa farmers. Farmers must improve conservation efforts voluntarily while still maintaining profitability or risk facing federal mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency. Most farmers would rather chart their own destiny instead of having it dictated to them by the federal government.
We decided to assist our farm clients and take a proactive role by transitioning from our traditional Corn and Soybean Crop Clinic to a Crop and Land Stewardship Clinic, by incorporating several water quality workshop sessions with traditional crop production workshop sessions. I invited representatives from the Hardin County Natural Resources Conservation Service, Southfork Watershed Alliance, Ellsworth Community College Agri Science Department, Iowa Falls High School Ag Education Department, Hardin County Farm Service Agency, Hamilton and Hardin County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Hamilton and Hardin County Extension to form a partnership with Hardin County Extension to plan and deliver the new Hardin County Crop and Land Stewardship Clinic. I also invited John Holmes, area crop field specialist, and Kelvin Leibold, area farm management field specialist, to join our coalition. We decided on two lead speakers who are attractive to the agricultural audience and would address the broad issues. We identified 12 workshop topics, six of which addressed water quality issues. Key presenters were identified and enlisted including Iowa State University scientists, crop association researchers, and industry representatives. As an added attraction, we decided to conduct an industry fair. Exhibitors were charged $100 for display space. Other business supporters were asked for $50 or $100 sponsorships. A grant was requested from the county conservation district. We decided the income would be used to finance costs of presenters, promotion, office support, lunch, and refreshments. 2000 brochures were distributed, ads were placed in county newspapers, and radio interviews were broadcast.
Two hundred and sixty-three people participated in our crop and land stewardship clinic. Attendance was strong at all sessions and producers acquired critical information on improving their productivity, profitability, and stewardship of the land. Agribusiness vendors were pleased at the great opportunity to connect with producers. $4,499 was generated, which financed all direct and indirect costs of the clinic. Dr. Steven Fales, newly appointed ISU Agronomy Department Chair, was a surprise guest and enjoyed the opportunity to engage producers. The clinic demonstrated the effectiveness of building partnerships and the importance of implementing engagement, entrepreneurship, and local presence.
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July 10, 2006
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