Call for abstracts for 2019 Iowa Water Conference now open

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The Iowa Water Conference Planning Committee is proud to announce that the theme for the 2019 Iowa Water Conference is, “Back to Basics: Land, Water, People.” This theme is inspired by the need for our communities to look back on our history with the landscape and focus on the basics when it comes to building resilient communities.

We invite water professionals, researchers, and graduate students to submit presentation abstracts centered around the theme. The State of Iowa has the most altered landscape in the nation. Increasingly, we look for solutions to our water management issues that bring us closer to nature and back to Iowa’s natural environmental processes. From restoring prairies and wetlands on agricultural landscapes to green infrastructure that couple natural and engineered systems, we are building a future through a respectful look to our state’s history. By getting “back to basics,” we are focusing on the entire ecosystem, with water as the connector.

The call for presentations, including instructions for submission, can be found here.

The call is open from August 15 – September 30.

Questions can be directed to Hanna Bates, Program Coordinator for the Iowa Water Center at

Join us at the One Water Summit


Submitted by Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center

The Iowa Water Center would like to invite you to mark your calendars for July 10-12 in the Twin Cities. What’s going on then? The One Water Summit, convened by the US Water Alliance.

The One Water Summit brings together a diverse network of water leaders from across the country for thought-provoking presentations, action-oriented panels, mobile tours, and unparalleled networking opportunities. One Water Summit 2018 is a unique venue to craft innovative solutions, connect with influential leaders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and forge the alliances needed to advance integrated, equitable, and sustainable approaches to water resource management.

We are excited to be part of a core group of “team captains” encouraging our colleagues from Iowa to attend the summit as part of the Iowa delegation, coordinated by the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance.   The last two years, Iowa has led the largest delegation to the One Water Summit. This year, we hope to bring our largest, most diverse, and engaged delegation yet.

Our delegation is an effective way to facilitate peer exchange, knowledge building, and navigate multiple programming options at the Summit. As delegates, we have the opportunity to join peer-to-peer exchange sessions before, during, and after the Summit to collaborate and dive deeper on the thorny challenges and opportunities in sustainable water management.

All in all, it’s a great way to get more out of the Summit and advance our work locally. The Alliance offers a heavily discounted rate of $425 for One Water delegations (almost half off). Read more about the benefits of the delegations here.

If you’ve never been to the US Water Summit, don’t worry – neither have we! We are thrilled to take part in this event and hope to see our friends from our nationwide network of Water Resources Research Institutes, too. There’s much to be learned from each other (and shared with others) as we work toward better water management.

We hope you’ll consider joining the Iowa delegation as part of the Iowa Water Center team! For more information, including the discount code to register, contact Melissa Miller (


Melissa Miller is the associate director of the Iowa Water Center. She holds a B.S. in community and public health and M.S. in community development with a focus in natural resources management, both from Iowa State University.

2018 Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference

Post submitted by Tianna Griffin, the Iowa Water Center’s Special Projects Assistant

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) 2018 Annual Conference was an event that brought families, farmers and professionals together to learn and meet new people.  It was my first time attending a conference and it won’t be my last.

The event was from January 18-20th and there were approximately 1,000 people who attended. This conference opens the opportunity for students, farmers, professors, and professionals in natural sciences to come together to learn new things and network. The conference theme was “Revival.” As the conference program stated, “At Practical Farmers, we believe that revival – of rural communities; of our soil, creeks and rivers; of opportunities for young people to set down roots where they grew up – is vital for agriculture, people and the land.” The topics presented, and the overall dynamics of the event exceeded my expectations. I didn’t know what to expect attending a conference; there were more people there than I expected, it was a family oriented event, and the set-up was conducive to interacting with others.

The event was filled with friendly and professional people. I saw many familiar and new faces. There was a wide variety of exhibitors to network with who specialized in animal feed, tillage practices, organic production, and many more. A silent auction was held, and sessions to attend ranging from, “Teaching Livestock to Eat Weeds,” “Pragmatic Approaches to Sustainability and Profitability,” “Leaving Your Legacy,” and many more. There were two sessions on Friday, and five sessions on Saturday that were 70 minutes long. The presenters were a diverse set of people who were farmers that grow row crops as well as horticultural crops. There were ISU professors, as well as professionals who had expertise in certain areas of agriculture. This was the most impressive aspect of the conference because it allowed for a variety of available sessions. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone of attending more than just topics on horticulture crops (which is my academic minor) and attend sessions that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend.

Some sessions that I attended and enjoyed were “Ecology and Management of Iowa’s Common Vegetable Insect Pests” presented by Dr. Donald Lewis who is an ISU entomologist, “Learning from On-Farm Research: Horticulture,” presented by Carmen Black, Rob Faux, and Liz Kolbe. Black and Faux are growers who practice on-farm research. Lastly, “Using Tea Bags to Assess Soil: A Low-Cost Approach?” presented by Marshall McDaniel who is an assistant professor at ISU in agronomy. I learned many new things by attending the conference as well as got a refresher on things of which I already had knowledge. There were so many good topics being presented that I didn’t know what to choose.

I enjoyed going to the PFI Annual Conference. It was a successful event because they represent people with different backgrounds of expertise; professionals and families attended the event. Because there’s a variety of different speakers it allows for the opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. Events like the PFI Annual Conference makes the possibility of their conference theme “Revival” come true by bringing farmers and town people together. According to PFI’s conference website, by “Revival,” PFI envisions repopulating rural areas with farmers, regenerating Iowa soils by diversifying crop rotations, rejuvenating creeks and rivers, and opening opportunities for the next generation of farmers.

IMG_0176Tianna Griffin is Iowa Water Center’s Special Projects Assistant. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree in agronomy with emphasis in agroecology and minoring in horticulture with an emphasis in fruit and vegetable production.

Make a Suggestion for IWConf18

Recently, we announced the open call for presentations for the 2018 Iowa Water Conference. (There’s still time to submit your abstract – the deadline is September 4 at 11:59 p.m.!) We have had some great submissions thus far, and look forward to reviewing them with the Iowa Water Conference planning committee.

However, it occurred to us last week through some conversations at the Prairie Lakes Conference in Okoboji, IA that there may be a swath of good presentation suggestions sitting out there from people who wouldn’t want to volunteer other people (or themselves) without an invitation. While we ask for suggestions in the post-event evaluation, we historically have not actively solicited suggestions for speakers the rest of the year.

To solve this dilemma, we are introducing a new webform on the conference page on our website. Here, you can make suggestions of topics or speakers you’d like to see covered at the upcoming Iowa Water Conference. Keep in mind this is prime agenda developing season – we typically fill up the agenda by November 1 – so while we accept suggestions year-round, anything after the agenda is full will be considered for the following year.

Of course, you’re always welcome to chat with us as you see us out and about, or shoot an email directly to Happy suggesting!

2018 Iowa Water Conference – Call for Abstracts!

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Success in water-related work, whether it is out in the farm field, a backyard, or in city infrastructure, cannot be achieved alone. It is done by a community and for a community. With that in mind, the Iowa Water Conference Planning Committee is happy to announce the theme for the 2018 Iowa Water Conference: “Our Watershed, Our Community.” This theme was inspired by the large, complex network of water-related professionals in Iowa that support local watershed work.

We invite water professionals, researchers, and graduate students to submit presentation abstracts centered around the theme of community in water. Through these presentations, applications should share success stories, challenges, and research that supports a foundation of community at the watershed-level.

The call for presentations, including instructions for submission, can be found here. Questions can be directed to Hanna Bates at We look forward to learning about your watershed experience!

A Day at the Lake

This week, our Iowa Water Center Advisory Board held their bi-annual meeting at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory at Lake Okoboji in northwestern Iowa. At this meeting, we reviewed the activities of the Iowa Water Center as well as future projects. Staff members and the advisory board also visited the research field sites for Elizabeth Swanner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University. 

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2016 Fall Watershed Academy

A few weeks ago, approximately 70 Iowa-based water professionals came together for the Watershed Academy. This two-day event was co-organized by Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Academy sought to provide the latest information on conservation practices and educational resources.

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