AMES, Iowa – Conservation Learning Group, a think tank dedicated to addressing conservation and environmental challenges, was established as a part of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in July 2018. The group is a collaboration of researchers, educators and advocates having the goal to better understand issues and come up with creative, sustainable solutions that are repeatable at scale.
Representatives from bioengineering, social science, agronomy, crop science, soil science, wildlife management, water resource management and conservation are on the CLG team. Specialists from other areas of study will be welcomed to contribute to the group’s goals.
“The open format of CLG will facilitate sharing of experiences, viewpoints, ideas, successes and failures to engender creative problem-solving and innovative thinking as we all contribute to solving immediate problems facing Iowa,” said Jacqueline Comito, program director of Iowa Learning Farms and leadership team member with CLG. “I am eager to see how this group grows and what we are able to accomplish.”
The CLG umbrella includes three highly successful programs, Iowa Learning Farms, Conservation Learning Labs, and Water Rocks!, and will incorporate inputs and knowledge from a broader range of research studies and programs spanning multiple topics. CLG will work with other projects and organizations to help create better awareness of what is being learned in each project and make results more accessible to general audiences.
The group has received funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (NRCS) partnership grant and a research grant through North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and is partnering with the University of Wisconsin in the development of conservation planning training.
Team members include Jacqueline Comito, anthropologist and program director, Iowa Learning Farms; Matthew Helmers, professor of agriculture and biosystems engineering; Mark Licht, assistant professor, Department of Agronomy and extension cropping systems specialist; Jamie Benning, extension water quality program manager; Adam Janke, assistant professor, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Emily Heaton, assistant professor, Department of Agronomy; Ann Staudt, assistant program manager, Iowa Learning Farms; and Elizabeth Juchems, conservation outreach specialist, Iowa Learning Farms.