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Conservation INsight

News & Updates

March 20, 2024

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LAST CALL! for Presentation Submissions for January 2025 Conference

The Indiana Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts is seeking presentations for the 2025 Annual SWCD Conference, scheduled for January at The Westin in downtown Indianapolis. This conference offers training and networking for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors, Staff, and Conservation Partners, with an anticipated attendance of over 350. Presentation topics should correspond to three session tracks: "On the Ground" (covering conservation implementation/technical aspects), "District Management," and "Policy, Outreach & Education." The submission deadline is March 28 at 12:00 pm (Eastern).

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River Friendly Farmer Award Nominations

Now Open!

Nominated by Indiana's SWCDs, the River Friendly Farmer Award is given annually to producers whose best farm management practices protect Indiana’s soil and water resources. Since 2000, over 1,100 Indiana farms have been recognized as 'River Friendly.' Applications are due June 7, 2024.

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SWCDs - Please Review Contact Information in Conservation Link

Districts - as we approach the conclusion of the Annual Meeting months, could you kindly review your staff, supervisor, and office address listings in Conservation Link? These details aid in effectively disseminating information from IASWCD. We will be refreshing our databases in the upcoming months to ensure everyone is included. If you need assistance updating these lists, please reach out to your ISDA District Support Specialist. Thank you!

NOW HIRING! SW Program Manager

The Program Manager of the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative is a position embedded within the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and is responsible for identifying local level partnerships, facilitating and supporting their efforts to increase the adoption of soil health practices and systems on Indiana cropland.

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Soil Health Newsletter

Latest issue

2024 CCSI-SARE Fundamentals of Soil Health

Tuesdays in April

Register by March 25.

This train-the-trainer event provides a foundation for understanding how cover crops and no-till systems may be incorporated into Midwestern cropping management, along with impacts on soil health.

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USH News

Season Extension Workshop:

Part 7, On-Farm

March 26

5:30 pm - 8 pm

Wild Pansy Farm, Crothersville, IN

Farmers: “Keep It Growing” - you can grow more food all year long!

Learn from farmers who use "season extension" to harvest more food in spring, fall, and winter. 

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USH News

Indiana SWCDs: Quick Survey Request

Resilient Indiana: Technical Assistance (RITA) for SWCDs is a new IASWCD program, funded by NRCS and Clean Water Indiana (CWI). It aims to build the capacity of SWCDs and partners in advocating for climate change mitigation efforts that decrease greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon storage in agricultural areas. To enhance the program's effectiveness for SWCDs, Meg Leader, RITA Director, requests each district to please complete a brief survey.

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RITA Now Hiring!

RITA is now accepting applications for the first cohort of technicians. The job description and application requirements can be accessed via this link: Job Description and Application Requirements. For any inquiries, please contact the program director, Meg Leader, at meg-leader@iaswcd.org or 812.510.3939.

Stewardship Week Resources Available for Districts

Conservation Districts are gearing up for Stewardship Week, hosted April 28 - May 5, 2024. 

NACD has released a proclamation template and media kit, all centered around this year's theme "May the Forest Be with You Always." Conservation districts can use these in preparation of the week-long celebration. 

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OP-ED - Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow

By Damarys Mortenson, Indiana State Conservationist, USDA-NRCS

It’s nothing you haven’t already heard.  Climate change is altering our agricultural landscape as we know it. Indiana’s farmers and forestland owners are experiencing impacts like increased and more intense droughts and floods, as well as shifting weather patterns and growing seasons. These impacts threaten production as well as conservation efforts. More than ever, planning and decision-making need to account for the impacts of climate change. 

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Agricultural Producers to Conserve Land through Climate-Smart Easements as part of President’s Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

On March 13, 2024, NRCS announced it will invest about $138 million of financial assistance from the Inflation Reduction Act in 138 new climate-smart conservation easements, through which farmers and ranchers are conserving wetlands, grasslands and prime farmlands.

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2024 Northwest Black Loam Conference

March 28

Merrillville, IN

The Black Loam conference builds agricultural relationships and networking opportunities These workshops will provide introductions to USDA programs and resources available to BIPOC and socially disadvantaged rural, urban and community farmers, growers and producers to assist and increase participation of USDA programs, loans, grants, sustainable agriculture practices, business planning, and community development. 


USDA Launches New Bobwhite Conservation Pilot and Announces General Conservation Reserve Program Signup

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., March 2, 2024 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a new conservation initiative – Working Lands for Wildlife’s Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project, as well as the signup dates for USDA’s General Enrollment signup in the Conservation Reserve Program (General CRP), which opens March 4. 

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Indiana NRCS Encourages Landowners to Start Planning for Future Bobwhite Funding Opportunities

Damarys Mortenson, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Indiana is pleased to announce another successful year of participation in the Working Lands for Wildlife Northern Bobwhite Quail program. In fiscal year 2023, Indiana NRCS funded more than $581,000 to landowners which supported voluntary conservation on 1,111 acres of private working lands to benefit northern bobwhite quail while achieving other conservation benefits, including sequestering carbon and improving soil health. 

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Follow NRCS on Facebook

USDA-NRCS recently launched a new Facebook page! Like the page and share content to help spread the word about program signups, work being accomplished through the Inflation Reduction Act and existing Farm Bill programs, career opportunities, and more.


State Soil Conservation Board

The mission of the State Soil Conservation Board (SSCB) is to provide information, advice, consultation and resources to Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors to assist them in carrying out their powers and programs. You can find the current board list and board minutes on their webpage.

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District Support Specialist Update

Latest issue

Student Poster Contest

The NACD Poster Contest offers students in grades K-12 an opportunity for local and national recognition of their artwork. Winning posters, based on the annual NACD Stewardship theme, showcase the efforts of conservation districts and associations in preserving and improving natural resources. The contest progresses from local to state levels, culminating in national recognition at NACD's annual meeting. In Indiana, the contest is sponsored locally by the Indiana District Employee Association and SWCDs.

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IDEA Fall Conference

October 23-25, 2024

Blue Chip Casino

Michigan City, IN

Purdue Agriculture Dean Appoints Bowling as New Head of Agronomy

Bernie Engel, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University, has announced the appointment of Laura Bowling as the department head for the department of agronomy. She will officially assume the position on August 19, succeeding Jeff Volenec, who served as interim department head during the last year.

Engel credits Bowling’s many diverse accomplishments for making her an ideal candidate for this position. “Dr. Bowling is an outstanding member of the agronomy department and the greater university and research communities. She has received numerous awards recognizing her contributions including as University Faculty Scholar and the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. She assumes this responsibility with exciting ideas for the department’s future.”

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Purdue on the Farm Demonstrations

Purdue On the Farm Demonstrations support farmers in exploring new products and practices through farmer-driven trials. Purdue Extension offers unbiased evaluation and guidance, aligning with its mission to transform lives and livelihoods. Contact your local Extension educator to initiate an On the Farm demonstration for partnership in testing new ideas or products.

Indiana Tree Stewards Program

The Indiana Community Tree Steward Program is offered three times a year throughout the state. Participants learn about the basics of urban tree care and how to communicate the benefits of urban trees. Attendees are asked to then use their skills by volunteering 15 hours of service to local communities to improve or maintain the urban forest.

Upcoming Events:

  • Apr. 4-5, 2024, Scottsburg
  • Apr. 18-19, 2024, West Lafayette
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SWCD Award Nominations & Scholarships

The SWCS awards program is designed to recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in advocating for the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources. Nominate an individual today!

SWCS also has three scholarship opportunities for all members. Take advantage today and apply!

The awards and scholarships application deadline is March 27.

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Citizen Scientists Needed for Equinox, Eclipse

Between the spring equinox on March 21 and continuing until April 10, the IGWS is inviting anyone with a cellphone to contribute data to an eclipse-related research project. For best results, participants are needed from across the state, and contributors are asked to send data as many times as they can through a three-question online survey.

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National Conservation Planning Partnership opens a Survey on Conservation Planning Needs, Barriers, and Opportunities

SPEAK UP INDIANA! NCPP is inviting all partners to share their opinions by completing a survey on conservation planning certification, advancement, and the overall conservation planning process.

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Other News

2023 Sentinel Landscapes Accomplishments Report Available

The 2023 Sentinel Landscapes Accomplishments Report is now available! Sentinel Landscapes Partnerships enable the USDA, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of the Interior, and their on-the-ground partners to solve land-use challenges by combining resources and aligning funding. Through FY 2022, projects in sentinel landscapes attracted $1.16B in funds, permanently protecting over 677,100 acres. 

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Newsletter: Indiana Nature News

Latest issue

Improve your Soil Health Communication

Presentations and workshops offered by Soil Health Nexus.

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The latest edition of the Hoosier Conservation Newsletter is here! Some of the topics covered include:

  • Annual Conference review
  • Spring native plant sale is open!
  • Conner Prairie - our new Certified Sustainable Trail partner
Latest issue