Summer meeting early registration closes Friday – now’s the time to save your seat!

The agenda for NACD’s Summer Conservation Forum and Tour is nearly finalized! On Monday, July 17, meeting-goers will enjoy a general session and lunch highlighted by several VIP speakers, including Bill Northey, the head of Iowa’s agriculture department and the rumored favorite for USDA’s undersecretary of Farm Production and Conservation post. NACD and this year’s summer meeting co-host – the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) – have also invited Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Iowa farmer and former NFL player Bruce Nelson to speak during Monday’s program.

After lunch, attendees will have their pick of two simultaneous policy panels to attend:

  • The “Public-Private Approaches to Conservation Planning” panel will be moderated by Sean McMahon with the Iowa Water Alliance and will feature Marty Adkins and Aaron Lauster of NRCS and Dave Muth of AgSolver.

  • The “Community and Agriculture Working Together for Clean Water” panel will be moderated by Jeri Thornsberry with Black Hawk SWCD and will feature Jim Gillespie of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Claire Lindahl of CDI and the Iowa Source Water Ag Collaborative.

While board members are in meetings on Monday morning, other meeting guests will enjoy a tour of historical farms, a lunch program on letter writing, and a stop at the local shopping district. Click here to see the full meeting agenda!

This year’s summer meeting will be held in Altoona, Iowa, from July 15 – 18 at the Prairie Meadows Hotel. The deadline to register for the meeting at early-bird prices is this Friday, June 16. The deadline to reserve your hotel room at NACD’s discounted rate of $107 per night is next Tuesday, June 20. Visit NACD’s website to register for the meeting and book your hotel today!

Informational webinars on RSET now available

NRCS has archived several educational webinars for districts on the Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool. Go to this YouTube playlist to access the webinars. The webinars include “RSE Overview,” “Cropland RSE: How-To Guide,” “Range RSE: How-To Guide,” “Pasture RSE: How-To Guide,” and “Science Behind RSE.”

RSET is a free service that allows farmers and ranchers to assess how they are addressing key natural resources thresholds for water quality and quantity, soil health, air quality, and wildlife habitat through their stewardship practices on cropland, grazing land, and range land. NRCS anticipates it being available for forestry lands later this year.

See the NRCS RSET page for more information on this free service. Producers can contact their local USDA service center to arrange for an evaluation.

USDA SARE releases ‘Farmer Field Day Toolkit’

Looking for some tips on how to host successful field days or on-farm demonstrations? USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program released a free, digital toolkit last week that can help with field day planning, day-of organization, and more, including how to work with the media, create press releases and PSAs, and generate public interest.

With advanced planning and coordination, you can use your field day to educate others on best practices, specific management practices and equipment, or to highlight research methods and results. It’s a win-win for you, who may benefit from increased market and brand recognition, and your attendees, who may be inspired to take what they’ve learned and adapt it to their own production system. Click here to learn more and download your own copy of the “Farmer Field Day Toolkit.”

NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Initiative:
Lycoming County Conservation District in Pennsylvania

Lycoming County is located in north central Pennsylvania and has a population of approximately 116,000 people. The percentage of folks living in poverty in the county seat of Williamsport is well above the statewide average, and many residents have need for locally-grown, healthy, and economical food options.

The Lycoming County Conservation District is partnering with existing gardening initiatives in the area to identify overlooked best management practices, address nutrition and food safety issues, and provide conservation demonstrations as part of their “Urban Agriculture for Healthier Families and Homes Program” – or “FreshFoodLyco” for short.

As a part of this initiative, FreshFoodLyco is working with Williamsport’s sponsored community garden to create an urban horticulture demonstration garden to introduce the basic tenets of urban agriculture on a small scale. The district is also working with local businesses to design a vertical garden space in the center of the city as a branch of this demonstration garden space.

FreshFoodLyco is an advocate for new municipal codes and permitting to make growing food easier and more accessible. It’s also working to boost healthy food supply to meet expanded capacity at the regional food bank, which recently underwent a renovation, and has created a web-based resource toolkit for community garden managers, senior home activities coordinators, master gardeners, and community action agencies to use in educating their groups on nutrition and growing practices unique to the Mid-Atlantic region.

Pictured above is a scene from the Penn State Master Gardeners Kids Day event held on Sunday, June 4. The district staff put on a quiz and riddle activity, held “story time” for young gardeners, and manned stations where about 50 kids and their families could plant flowers, get their faces painted, visit with therapy dogs, and much more.

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