Watershed Leaders Network

Support For Local Watershed Groups

Skills and connection for farming neighbors, ag landowners, coordinators and local collaborators who want to do and lead for healthy watersheds

“If you look around, a lot is happening. It starts with someone who sees the watershed-scale issue and wants to do something about it.”
— Dave Vetrano, farmer and former Wisconsin DNR fish biologist

Watershed Leaders Network serves locally-led watershed groups in agricultural watersheds throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin. It is a Fishers & Farmers Partnership program.

Build the Strength of Your Local Team

Activities introduce local groups to people who are working toward similar goals in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Workshops, events and online connections provide opportunities to hear real-life success stories, share experiences, ask questions, build skills and knowledge, and reflect and strategize as local teams away from daily demands.

2016 workshop participants went home renewed and ready to accomplish things. In just a few months they established new farmer-led councils, invited neighbors to participate, used and advocated new farming practices, held more frequent watershed group meetings, requested and used water test kits on their own tile lines, monitored streams next to fields, attended others’ meetings to encourage and share expertise, applied for funding, invited NRCS and other agencies to share information, presented to groups, explained their projects to the press, met with legislators, planned and led field days at new sites, and developed watershed planning processes specific to local needs.

This story introduces a few 2016 Watershed Leaders Network participants, their projects, and how they connected at the workshop.

Register Now For the 2017 Watershed Leaders Network Workshop In Dubuque November 28-29

Our 2017 workshop builds skills for increasing participation, sharing projects, and implementing watershed-wide strategies. Local group members will know each other better, sort through local needs and possibilities, and return home thoughtful and connected with an immediate action plan.

WHO? | Workshops are open to all watershed groups with farmer/landowner participation. Whether your work is just starting or has a history of several years, this will move you forward.

DATE & TIMES | The first workshop session begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, November 28, and the last session ends at 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 29. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

LOCATION | We are gathering at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa. This is a beautiful, inspiring facility and we are grateful to welcome you there.

MEALS | Conversation over meals is important, so all are served to our group privately at the Museum. They include: Tuesday lunch; Tuesday dinner and cash bar; Wednesday breakfast, Wednesday lunch. If you have specific dietary needs, tell us when you register and the caterer will accommodate.

HOTEL | A block of rooms is reserved at the Grand Harbor Resort, situated on the banks of the Mississipi River next to the Museum. Call 866-690-4006 to reserve your room and tell them you are with Watershed Leaders Network.

COST | Programming and participation in this workshop are free to all, thanks to The McKnight Foundation. The cost of all meals and nonalcoholic beverages is $65, payable at registration.

MEAL & HOTEL FREE TO FIRST 25 REGISTERED FARMERS | To acknowledge the contribution of participating farmers, the first 25 farmers who register will receive meals and one night’s hotel stay at no cost. Simply click the blue phrase “Enter a password or discount code” on the online registration form. A box will appear where you enter the code FARMER. We will reserve rooms for all who register this way, so do not reserve a hotel room.

REGISTER! | Register and pay for meals online. You will receive e-mail confirmation from the registration service. All ticket types are OK.

Step Up For Your Watershed

Environmentally-friendly farms, healthy streams, and thriving native fish populations can be the norm, and neighbors are the most powerful influencers for change. 

The balance tips to widespread, lasting farm and watershed health when many farm landowners and operators take action in one place at the same time. Using farming methods that reduce erosion and nutrient loss across watersheds creates conditions that allow natural systems to renew themselves, so working lands remain productive and fish thrive for future generations.


Watershed Leaders Network is funded by the McKnight Foundation, with additional support from the Association For Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Charles & Verna Schmidt Foundation, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


Producer & Soil Health Advocate

Tim Smith

Eagle Grove, Iowa
Tim Smith

Producer & Farmer-Led Council Founder

John Eron

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
John Eron

Le Sueur River Watershed Network Coordinator

Jessica Nelson

South Central Minnesota
Jessica Nelson