AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms will continue its monthly educational webinar series in 2013. Webinars are held on the third Wednesday of each month, beginning at 11:30 a.m. through Adobe Connect. All that is needed is a computer with Internet access. The topics discussed will be beneficial for technical service providers, watershed project coordinators, extension specialists and others interested in the topic of the month.
The January webinar will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 16, and will feature Jon Wolseth and Jacqueline Comito, anthropologists working with water quality issues. Their webinar presentation is titled, “The State’s Role in Water Quality: Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners and the Agricultural Status Quo.”
The continued transformation of Iowa farmland is intimately linked to state policies and government subsidies. These initiatives encourage farmers to alter their farming methods and the landscape for the development of better conservation ethics, soil erosion prevention and water quality improvement. Local-level, nominally elected politicians and Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners are the primary point of contact farmers have with the state. While SWCD commissioners are charged with evaluating farmers’ eligibility for government assistance, they have become more than implementers of social policy. Through the establishment of funding priorities, they are also policy creators.
In this webinar, Wolseth explores how SWCD commissioners implicitly support intensive agricultural production, allowing farmers to feel more secure about their methods of production. He will also discuss how the commissioners play a vital role in maintaining the agricultural status quo by assuring farmers that they are doing their part in improving soil and water quality.
Wolseth is an independent consultant working in central Iowa. Over the last two years, he has collaborated with Comito and Lois Wright Morton on water quality issues in Iowa. He has co-authored three forthcoming academic journal articles along with ILF publications "Water Quality Matters to Us All" and "Watershed-based Community Assessments." In addition to his work in Iowa, he has conducted long-term research projects in Latin America investigating the intersection between children and youth, peer socialization and learning behavior. Wolseth has numerous publications based on this work including a book published in 2011 and a subsequent book that will be released in 2013. He is currently pursuing a professional degree in Community and Regional Planning at Iowa State University.
Through ISU Extension and Outreach, Comito heads several water quality initiatives: Iowa Learning Farms, Watershed Community Assessment project and Water Rocks!. Comito says that emotions and personal choices have as much of an impact on how people treat our soil and water, as do knowledge and economics. Her work aims to bring awareness, and ultimately, change to attitudes and behaviors toward water quality.
To connect to the webinars, go to: http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/ at 11:30 a.m. on the date of the webinar to log in. Webinars are archived and available on the ILF website at www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/page/webinars.