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Iowa Learning Farms Webinar: Lake Drainage in Iowa, 1880-1920

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Iowa Learning Farms Webinar: Lake Drainage in Iowa, 1880-1920

January 4, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Jan. 11 presentation features Joe Otto, Director of Special Projects for the Soil and Water Conservation Society, highlighting an era in Iowa agriculture that changed the landscape and gave rise to water conservation consideration


Ames, Iowa – The Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) conservation webinar taking place Jan. 11 at noon CST will feature Joe Otto, director of special projects and partnerships, Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), and doctoral candidate in history, University of Oklahoma. Otto directs operations for over $2 million in federal and state grants, including partnerships with Iowa NRCS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. As SWCS historian, he works to preserve the history of the Conservation Movement. His doctoral research focuses on the agricultural and environmental history of Iowa, with a focus on drainage water management, drainage districts, and the contested process of planning, building, and maintaining drainage systems.

Iowa Learning Farms is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach conservation and water quality education program.

In the webinar, “Lake Drainage in Iowa, 1880-1920,” Otto will offer a retrospective of a time in Iowa’s agriculture industrial development in which drainage of lakes forever changed the state’s landscape and gave rise to the creation of the State Board of Conservation (predecessor to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources) in 1918. He will discuss the goals and controversies surrounding lake drainage and the redefinition of the physical and legal barriers of the state’s numerous depressional lakes. Otto will also cite the sometimes complex conflicts over the benefits of drainage and the ethical stewardship of private lands and public waters.

“During this historical period, farmers and landowners established a large patchwork network of drainage infrastructure that continues to operate beneath Iowa’s fields and farms,” said Otto. “Reconnecting with this historical moment in Iowa’s agricultural past that is as forgotten as it is brief provides a foundation for understanding some of the water conservation and quality challenges facing us today. Exploring Iowa’s history from the water’s edge makes the past a lot muddier.”

Participants are encouraged to ask questions of the presenters. People from all backgrounds and areas of interest are encouraged to join.


Webinar Access Instructions

  • Or, join from a dial-in phone line:

Dial: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923

Meeting ID: 364 284 172

The webinar will also be recorded and archived. All archived webinars are available on the ILF website, so that they can be watched at any time.

ILF has applied for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU) for attending this webinar. Those who participate in the live webinar are eligible. Information about how to apply to receive the credit will be provided at the end of the live webinar.


Upcoming Webinars in the Series:

Jan. 18: Lee Burras, Iowa State University

Jan. 25: Maria Lemke, The Nature Conservancy


January 4, 2023
8:00 am - 5:00 pm