Extension and Outreach Celebrates Soil and Water Conservation Week

More than a dozen soil and water conservation programs are available

April 26, 2024, 9:53 am | Jamie Benning

AMES, Iowa – Soil and water are valuable resources in Iowa. They sustain life and provide economic and quality of life opportunities for farmers, landowners and urban residents.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recognizes the importance of our natural resources and is proud to celebrate Soil and Water Conservation Week, April 28 through May 5.
People gathered outdoors for a conservation event.This statewide celebration recognizes the ongoing work to improve soil conservation and water quality in Iowa and engage Iowans in learning about the importance of conservation and natural resource stewardship.

This year, Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is being coordinated with national Stewardship Week, which is sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts.

“We are very proud of our soil and water conservation programs and the work that our specialists do to engage Iowans in learning about resource stewardship,” said Jamie Benning, assistant director for agriculture and natural resources with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Every Iowan plays a role in safeguarding our natural resources and our programs are designed to reach multiple audiences.”
Programs are available for homeowners, forest owners, farmers, conservation professionals, youth and anyone with an interest in natural resources. Each program offers timely information and research, with opportunities to network and learn from peers and natural resource specialists.
Extension specialists are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about conserving soil and water and improving their programs with the latest research. Here are a few things they have to say about their programs.
 – Billy Beck, extension forestry specialist: “Properly functioning woodland and forest resources – streamside, upland and on-farm – are powerful tools in soil and water conservation. Programs such as the Iowa Master Woodland Steward Program, Forestry Field Days and Windbreak School seek to develop a community of highly-motivated and knowledgeable woodland stewards, to act as champions of forests and forestry within the state of Iowa, and work with management professionals in improving and expanding woodland resources.”
– Adam Janke, extension wildlife specialist: “The Master Conservationist Program is connecting passionate community members with local soil and water conservation professionals around the state to empower them to do right by land and water everywhere from the back yard to the back forty. Many programs are enrolling classes for this year now!”
– Catherine DeLong, extension water quality program manager: “Programs like the Watershed Academy and Land Stewardship Leadership Academy help prepare conservation professionals to work with farmers and landowners – to give sound technical advice about windbreaks and riparian forest buffers, but also to build cooperative long-term relationships with farmers.”

Programs available

Here is a quick look at the many natural resource programs offered throughout the year and for different audiences.

  • Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors
    The Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors program is a three-week blended online and in-person curriculum that trains hunters, landowners and community leaders in the science and policy surrounding the management of Chronic Wasting Disease in white-tailed deer. Learn more about the Chronic Wasting Disease Ambassadors Program.
  • Forestry Field Days
    The Iowa Forestry Field Days program is intended to serve private woodland owners, public land managers, forestry consultants and service providers, and interested citizens of Iowa. Learn more about Forestry Field Days.
  • Iowa Learning Farms
    Farmers, researchers and Iowa Learning Farms team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Iowa Learning Farms partners conduct a variety of educational programming throughout the year. Learn more about Iowa Learning Farms.
  • Land Stewardship Leadership Academy
    The Land Stewardship Leadership Academy is a professional development program for early to mid-career natural resource professionals who work with Graduates of the Land Stewardship Leadership Academyprivate landowners to implement water and wildlife conservation practices. Learn more about the Land Stewardship Leadership Academy.
  • Master Conservationist Program 
    The Master Conservationist Program is a collaborative program offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, county conservation boards, and local conservation leaders and professionals. The intensive blended online and in-person curriculum is developed to equip Iowans interested in natural resource conservation with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions. Learn more about the Master Conservationist program.
  • Master Woodland Steward
    This program is primarily intended to serve woodland owners and land managers, but may also be of interest to school teachers, loggers and government employees. Learn more about the Master Woodland Steward program.
  • Private Well Stewardship Program
    The Private Well Stewardship Program is an educational program offered through ISU Extension and Outreach in which private well owners learn about the responsibilities and risks of being a private well owner and are connected to additional resources to manage their well. Learn more about the Private Well Stewardship Program.
  • Tri-State Forestry Conference
    The Tri-State Forest Stewardship Conference is a one-day educational program annually presented by extension educators with the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Madison and ISU Extension and Outreach. This conference is designed specifically for forest landowners in the Midwest. Learn more about the Tri-State Forestry Conference.
  • Watershed Academy
    The Iowa Watershed Academy features topics in the areas of phosphorus management, nutrient reduction strategy measurement, project management, communication and engagement strategies, and hands on tours and demonstrations for Iowa watershed project coordinators. Learn more about the Watershed Academy.
  • Windbreak School
    Windbreak School is a half-day in-field program designed to empower farmers, rural landowners and natural resource professionals to effectively plan, implement, maintain and renovate highly functional and resilient windbreak resources. Learn more about Windbreak School.
  • Women's Woodland Stewardship Network
    The Women's Woodland Stewardship Network seeks to empower women to become more involved in woodland stewardship and forestry-related activities in Iowa. All women who are interested in woodland stewardship are encouraged to attend events for this program. Learn more about the Women's Woodland Stewardship Network.
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