By Sara Clausen, Key Cooperative Director or Communications & Member Relations
So often we refer to sports analogies to help describe or paint a picture for better understanding. However used, sports related analogies always have one common thread – teamwork.
Teamwork is the very reason Prairie Rivers of Iowa exists today. Based in Ames, the non-profit is committed to advocating sustainability for present and future generations. What does this mean? They think and act just like farmers!
Founded in 1999 and what was once part of the RC & D program, Prairie Rivers of Iowa offers a diverse set of programs but their watersheds and waterways team has reached new heights thanks to increased awareness for water quality throughout the state. “The state is successfully moving towards creating watershed minded communities,” said Watershed Coordinator, Kayla Hasper, “Prairie Rivers of Iowa is dedicated to working alongside producers as this mindset shifts.”
The watersheds team officially formed in 2014 when representatives from Boone, Story, Hamilton & Webster counties came together to address the needs of the Squaw Creek Watershed. After developing a management plan for the area, they sought grant funding to begin their work with producers which would include efforts to monitor water quality, introduce solutions for improved soil health and offer cost-share conservation practices. “There are 26 watersheds throughout the state that receive this grant funding from the Iowa Department of Agriculture,” said Kayla, “The state is working hard for us and making sure we get established.
Many programs throughout the state cost-share conservation practices, however, Prairie Rivers of Iowa offers the financial assistance to repeat users; making their program unique. Being realistic about how the term conservation is perceived by producers is yet another factor for the organization and making conservation profitable will take a combination of awareness, education and trial.
Looking towards 2018, Prairie Rivers of Iowa must renew their state grant funding for another three years to continue their progress in the Squaw Creek Watershed. In addition, they will grow their work in the South Skunk River Watershed and have their sights set on adding four additional smaller watersheds to their management plan. “We also must teach the teachers,” said Kayla, “In order to shift the mindset, our watershed educator will be going into schools – bringing awareness to all ages.”
On June 27, Key Cooperative will serve as the host site for Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s summer field day. “Our agronomy team is dedicated to SUSTAIN which directly correlates to Prairie Rivers of Iowa and their similar efforts to educate producers,” said Key Cooperative Agronomist, Chris McIlrath, “We are both focused on what’s best for producers and land stewardship; our partnership is a great opportunity.” Additional information about the upcoming field day, watershed maps and cost-share programs can be found on the Prairie Rivers of Iowa website www.prrcd.org.