George Cummins, ISU Extension Field Spec/ Crops, Northeast Area Office
There are continuing concerns related to farming practices, land use and environmental/ social impacts. Some of these issues pit rural and urban interests against one another. There are a number of individual people and groups who are implementing new practices which successfully address on-going concerns. Many people, including some public policy makers who are unaware of these local efforts which affect us all directly or indirectly.
The annual Environmental Awareness Tour was held in conjunction with the Floyd County Fair on July 15, 2005. The extension objectives were: to identify the issues; to increase awareness of the problems and options for addressing them; and to provide factual, unbiased information to help individuals, interested groups and public policy makers make informed decisions. The tour was organized by ISU Extension with assistance and support from The Cedar Valley RC and D, Floyd County SWCD, Floyd County Farm Bureau and the Floyd County Pork Producers. The tour was publicized in the newsletters and the activities calendars of the supporting organizations. The media were used to publicize the event and provide follow-up to the general public. The tour included four stops: Stop 1. The Washington School Watershed - 30 miles of tile inlet terraces trap runoff and release it slowly over a two day period. This project reduces soil erosion in the watershed and reduces the threat of flooding in the north end of Charles City. This 30-year-old project is cited as an excellent example of private and public cooperation towards a common goal. Stop 2. A livestock feeding operation which utilizes rations built around ethanol plant co-products and corn stalks. Feed efficiency and profitability are improved. With the possibility of a local ethanol plant in Floyd County, livestock feeding opportunities should increase. Stop 3. On-farm electrical generation. A local farmer shared his family's experiences building and operating their wind turbine and utilizing/ marketing the electricity that is generated. Stop 4. The Cedar River Water Quality Improvement Project. A DNR representative shared results of the water quality survey results which showed high nitrates. Implications for rural and urban interests were discussed. An Iowater volunteer demonstrated the tests that are run on a regular basis to monitor water quality around the state. An informational packet with related materials was assembled and given to all participants.
The tour attracted 28 participants from several Iowa counties; local political leaders; representatives from DNR and USDA Rural Development, an Extension Livestock Specialist, founding members of the Washington School Watershed and visitors from as far away as Texas. The tour indicates the strong working relationship that ISU Extension has with other agencies, organizations and entrepreneurial individuals and groups. Participant comments indicate that the objectives to identify critical issues, increase awareness, provide workable options for common problems and to provide information for decision making were met. KIMT TV in Mason City included a piece on the Tour as a lead story on the 10 o'clock news. The Mason City Globe Gazette gave the tour a "Rose" Award as a special event in North Iowa as well as publicizing the event. KGLO, IOW and KLMJ radio publicized the event and broadcast follow-up interviews on the tour highlights.
July 22, 2005
150 -- Environmental Stewardship
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