MADISON – The Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association (WI Land+Water) hosted its 69th Annual Conference on March 2-4. The online event brought together more than 300 conservation professionals from various organizations across Wisconsin and beyond.
During the three-day virtual conference, attendees were able to participate in a range of virtual sessions, including technical roundtables and conservation presentations. Those attending the conference included county Land Conservation Committee (LCC) members and Land Conservation Department (LCD) staff, state and federal agency staff, and both nonprofit and industry representatives.
The conference opened with a keynote address from Jay Fuhrer, a soil health expert who worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Services in Bismarck, North Dakota for 40 years. Now he spends his time advancing soil health practices as a lead educator at Menoken Farm. Fuhrer has an extensive background working with soil and water conservation districts, watershed groups, and farm organizations.
Other sessions focused on topics such as forest management, wetland restoration, and climate resiliency. Each session offered either Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) or Professional Development Hours (PDHs) for technical staff to maintain their job certifications and licenses, as well as obtain timely knowledge of best management practices in their fields.
“Our conference is a valuable forum to our county conservation members to share innovative practices and programs. It provides an opportunity to connect with others who are building boots-on-the-ground solutions for some of Wisconsin’s most complex conservation challenges.”
In addition to the sessions, attendees were able to participate in the 65th Annual Conservation Awareness Poster and Speaking Contest. Students from across the state submitted recorded speeches that addressed a relevant local conservation issue. Speeches were judged by a panel prior to the start of the conference, and the winning speeches were available to stream during the event. The theme for the poster contest was “Healthy Soils, Healthy Life.” Conference attendees voted on their favorite posters, and the winning artworks were featured online.
WI Land+Water also recognized several individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in conservation across the state. The recipients of the 2022 Conservation Awards are:
- Anne Bartels, Marinette County – Brad Matson Youth Education Award for Outstanding Youth Educator
- Becky Arneson, Trempealeau County – Outstanding Conservation Employee, Administrative/Clerical
- Travis Tulowitzky, Bayfield County – Outstanding Conservation Employee, Technician/Agronomist/Planner
- Larry Sommer, Forest County – Outstanding Supervisor.
- Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance – Special Recognition/Friend of Conservation
Elections for three seats on the state Land and Water Conservation Board (LWCB) were held during the conference. The LWCB serves as an advisory board on soil and water resource management issues for the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the WI Department of Natural Resources. Six candidates delivered speeches to the membership and counties cast their votes electronically. The newly elected LWCB members are:
- Rebecca Clarke, Sheboygan County, Lake Michigan Area Land and Water Association
- Monte G. Osterman, Racine County, Southeastern Area Land and Water Association
- Russell Rindsig, Barron County, West Central Area Land and Water Association
The conference concluded with the annual business meeting of WI Land+Water’s members, where the organization’s finances, legislative priorities, and planning initiatives were discussed.
“We are so grateful to our presenters, members, and sponsors, whose engagement and support is absolutely vital to having a successful event,” said Krueger.
Conference sponsors and partners include:
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
- Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards (PACRS)
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
- ILM Environments
- Pfaff Public Affairs
- River Alliance of Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Association of Professional Agricultural Consultants
Nonprofit Partner Sponsors
- Center for Watershed Science and Education - UW Stevens Point
- Discovery Farms
- Grassworks, Inc.
- The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin
- Savanna Institute
- Standards Oversight Council
- Wisconsin's Green Fire
WI Land+Water’s 70th Annual Conference is scheduled for March 1-3, 2023 at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.