ANKENY, IOWA — Do you know an outstanding watershed coordinator in Iowa? These dedicated professionals are key players in improving water quality to advance and implement Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) wants your help in recognizing these individuals.
For the fourth year, IAWA will give a boost to outstanding coordinators and is seeking nominees for the 2021 Iowa Watershed Awards program. The awards program is a partnership among IAWA, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI).
“It’s inspiring each year to discover and share the highly effective and unique ways that Iowa’s watershed coordinators work with local stakeholders and recognize them for their outstanding efforts to improve water quality and soil health,” says Sean McMahon, Executive Director of IAWA.
Recipients of the Iowa Watershed Awards will be announced at the 2021 Iowa Water Conference, hosted by the Iowa Water Center. Up to five honorees will be recognized and each will receive funding for their local watershed program and for their own professional development. If the honoree cannot accept outside funding for professional development, all of the funding will go toward the local watershed program.
Nominations and applications are being accepted at www.iowaagwateralliance.com/iowa-watershed-awards-application until February 5, 2021. They will be evaluated by a panel of judges from each of the five partners. “We are delighted to work with these leading organizations to recognize Iowa’s watershed coordinators for the important work they do every day to improve water quality through the watershed approach,” says McMahon.
Last year, Neil Shaffer was honored as the 2020 Iowa Watershed Coordinator of the Year. Shaffer was recognized for his successful work with the Silver Creek Watershed.
“The award helped increase the engagement and enthusiasm of local farmers in the watershed,” Shaffer says. Under his leadership, the watershed has been increasing efforts with cover crops, grassed waterways, and manure and nutrient management.
Award funding for the Silver Creek Watershed project was used to create signage to raise awareness for conservation practices that improve water quality and soil health. Shaffer used the award funding for professional development to attend a grant writing class at a local college. “I’ve been batting 1,000 on grants ever since,” he says.
The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) is increasing the pace and scale of farmer-led efforts to improve water quality in Iowa. Founded in 2014 by Iowa Corn, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association, IAWA is building public-private partnerships focused on implementing water quality solutions. Learn more at www.IowaAgWaterAlliance.com.