Programs

Learn in conversation with local groups working for soil health and streams in the upper Midwest

logo part

Upcoming Programs

Ask & Learn About Our 2023 Funding

Online Conversation | Tuesday, December 6 @ 2p

Walk through our 2023 funding priorities and the proposal process with Fishers & Farmers co-coordinators Heidi Keuler and Amy Smith. Share project ideas with Heidi, Amy and Fishers & Farmers steering committee, ask about project viability, and get feedback on how to design the best possible project.

More Info >

Watershed Leaders Network Workshops

At our interactive, no-lecture, professionally facilitated workshops participants hear new perspectives, ask questions that matter, host conversations, tell stories of challenge and success, reflect, and identify their own next steps. It is a rich, practical way to learn.

In-Person & Digital Events

Fishers & Farmers brings you into conversations with local, farmer-driven groups working for sustainable farms and streams. Learn about their projects and challenges, how they organize, and how they’re building community around important work.

Podcasts

Ag broadcaster Pam Jahnke talks with Midwest neighbors who are working together for resilient farms, streams and fish. These lively, down-to-earth conversations touch on real local challenges, why people get involved, and what it means to make progress as a community.

Stories & Videos

Watershed Leaders Network stories and videos introduce you to program participants who are developing new practices, influencing communities, and renewing landscapes where they live.

Meet Local Changemakers

Search programs to find peers and see how people dive in, persist and make progress neighbor to neighbor.

Program Type:
  • Stories & Videos
  • Digital Event
  • In-Person Events
  • Podcast
  • Workshop
States:
  • All 5 States
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin
Topics:
  • Alternate crops
  • Collaboration & local decision making
  • Field walkovers
  • Financial return
  • Fish
  • Leased land
  • Listening & personal connection
  • Managed grazing
  • Monitoring & data
  • Nutrient retention
  • Outreach & demonstrations
  • Peer-to-peer leadership & learning
  • Perennial cover & buffers
  • Soil health & cover crops
  • Stream & wetland restoration
  • Upstream-downstream connection
  • Urban-rural understanding
  • Water retention & sediment control
  • Watershed Leaders Network
  • Women landowners
  • Workshops

How do local groups connect with producers who who aren’t early innovators?


Digital Coffee Chat with Fishers & Farmers Partnership & National Wildlife Federation | November 29 @ 10 a.m.
Fishers & Farmers coordinator Heidi Keuler talks about the fish factor, why the Partnership focuses on neighbor-to-neighbor influence, and what dynamics and incentives are engaging people in shared work for farms—and fish!

Watch the Video >

Corn, Cows…and Trout

Silver Creek Watershed coordinator Neil Shaffer is achieving his four goals—reduce soil loss, improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and increase net farm income—because of a cascade of cooperation.

Read the Story >

One Missouri Farmer Steps Up To Connect Neighbors, Agencies, and Policy Makers

Brent Hoerr first experienced a Mississippi River flood in 1973, when his family lost their farm home. He was president of Marion County Drainage District for 40 years. "Floods challenge, stress and overload all systems—agriculture, transportation and environment. We're responsible to identify how to minimize impact through collaboration."

Read the Story >

Boots on the Ground | Clean River Partners

Meet a watershed coordinator, farmer, two college professors and Rice SWCD staff who are breaking down barriers and working together to keep nutrients and sediment out of Rice Creek.

Watch the Video >

Dubuque, Iowa | November 28-29, 2017

For two days at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, 60 people connected with peers to share their work for soil health, streams and places they care about. Fourteen farmer-driven watershed groups participated.

Review the Workshop >

Dubuque, Iowa | November 28-30, 2016

At the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, farmer-driven soil health and watershed groups learned about each others’ land, crops and conservation delivery systems, social realities and challenges. Then stories, questions, dialogues, listening and local group work helped define next wise steps for work at home.

Review the Workshop >

Lanesboro, Minnesota | August 1-3, 2016

Three days of stories, listening and active conversation between Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin farmer-led groups focused their commitment to active work at home and contributed to formation of two new groups.

Review the Workshop >

At Indian Creek, Collaboration Shifts Local Norms

Community outreach led by a farmer-driven steering committee in Indian Creek watershed transformed nutrient use and helped bring 50% of basin farmland into conservation practice.

Read the Story >

Farmers Lead For Healthier Soil and Water

At a Watershed Leaders Network workshop, participants ask: How do I farm, protect public waters and get return on my investment? How do I catalyze others to do the same?

Read the Story >

Working Together Locally For Farms, Streams and Economic Growth

In southwest Wisconsin, farming practices such as cover crops, contour strips and native grass strips help sustain recreational fishing that generates more than $1 billion annually for the local economy.

Read the Story >

Root Causes, Root Solutions

Root River Field to Stream Partnership tracks the effect of farm practices on streams and helps landowners act for the future. See how Steph and Josh Dahl invested to expand their operation.

Read the Story >

Addressing Water Quality Connects Neighbors In Blackhawk Creek Watershed

Blackhawk Creek carries E. coli bacteria and 2,720 tons of nitrates to the Cedar River annually. Neighbors established Blackhawk Creek Water & Soil Coalition to restore it.

Read the Story >

A model for farmer-driven watershed improvement now asks, “What next?”

Farmer Jeff Pape rallied neighbors to farm differently in Hewitt Creek Watershed, near Iowa’s Field of Dreams. “Affordable change came first. Now reaching water quality goals means more investment.

Read the Story >

Proving Collaboration Is Possible

Cooperation between local partners in Pike County is increasing the number of cover cropped acres. Producers John and Sandy Scherder say it has everything to do with the will to connect.

Read the Story >

Farmers talking with neighbors is prime driver of success across watersheds

Root River Field to Stream Partnership gathered data, but more importantly, it engaged with growers and encouraged conversations among growers that led to positive changes in soil and water.

Read the Story >

Growing Grassroots Change: Farmer-led conservation is getting a little help from its friends

“A watershed group was worth a try," said farmer Brian McCulloh, "so I attended meetings with an open mind. It helps when neighbors struggle with the same challenges, to do better.”

Read the Story >

Reviving the endangered Topeka shiner minnow

Restoring stream oxbows where they naturally occur is reviving the endangered Topeka shiner minnow, other fish and wildlife. Farmers also see nutrient reduction benefits.

Read the Story >

No-Tillers Take the Lead for Water Quality

Wisconsin no-tillers John Eron and Matt Hintz didn’t wait for regulations telling them how to farm. They started farmer-led watershed groups to deal directly with local environmental issues and the groups that raised them, not as adversaries, but as advocates.

Read the Story >

Coming Together for the Sake of a Creek

Focused work in Minnesota's Rice Creek watershed is connecting producers, reducing the risk of trying cover crops and other new practices, influencing local farming methods and improving conditions for brook trout in Rice Creek.

Read the Story >

Oxbow Alchemy Better than Lead into Gold

Two restored Boone River oxbow wetlands on Camille Rogers' Iowa farm are part of a plan to renew more than 400 similar sites in her watershed. After eroded soil was removed, the topeka shiner minnow returned and Rogers can again enjoy a favorite natural area from her childhood.

Read the Story >

Landowner-Led Effort Jumpstarts Conservation Practice Adoption

Shoal Creek Woodlands for Wildlife, a bottom-up, self-organized group of local landowners and collaborators, connected neighbors and jumpstarted rapid adoption of conservation practices across the watershed.

Read the Story >

Fishers & Farmers: Connecting Landowners for Grassroots Action

Heidi Keuler, Fishers & Farmers’ coordinator, and Clark Porter, Middle Cedar Watershed farmer/Iowa Department of Agriculture environmental specialist, discuss outreach with an Upper Mississippi River Region League of Women Voters host.

Watch the Video >

Video | Watershed Leaders Network

Fishers & Farmers' interactive, no-lecture, professionally-facilitated workshops bring farmers, landowners and collaborators together to ask questions, hear new perspectives, reflect, and identify their own next wise steps.

Read the Story >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Peno Creek Cooperative Partnership

Hear how producer John Scherder and MDC Fisheries regional lead Chris Williamson connected and turned a ripple of interest into a wave of cover crop adoption in Peno Creek Watershed.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Seven Mile Creek Watershed Partnership

Learn how a diverse leadership team refocused to bring new relevance to Seven Mile Creek Watershed Partnership after 20 years of activity and evolution.

Watch the Video >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Women for the Land + Learning Circles for Women Nonoperating Landowners

Becky Taylor leads learning circles for women landowners, and tells how they work and impact land. Gabrielle McNally, Women for the Land program director, is expanding learning circles nationwide.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Farmers for Tomorrow

Matt Hintz and his family do not drink their own water. “As a farmer,” he says, “I want to change that.” He and neighbors focus on soil health to achieve the goal.

Watch the Video >

Boots on the Ground | Polk County Iowa SWCD

In Polk County, a general contractor/bid approach is scaling up conservation faster, at lower cost, in a way landowners appreciate. Learn how partners shaped a new system.

Watch the Video >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Middle Cedar Partnership Project & Black Hawk Creek Coalition

Learn how flood damage and high Nitrogen counts led Cedar Rapids’ Utilities Director Mike Kunst and farm owner Clark Porter into a web of connection and action.

Listen to Podcast >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Farmers of Mill Creek & Petenwell Castle Rock Stewards

“You bring lake people to my farm, and I'll bring farmers to your lakes,' said John Eron to lakeshore landowner Rick Georgeson. The upstream/downstream friendship now inspires conservation innovation.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Shoal Creek Woodlands for Wildlife

A 2008 conversation made conservation easier in Rachel Hopkins’ watershed. “There wasn’t much trust between farmers and conservationists,” she says, “but we said what bugged us and formed a farmer-led committee.”

Watch the Video >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Clean River Partners

Producer Tim Little and conservation manager Al Kraus speak to the value of cover crops and tell how structure, energy and shared work are changing Rice Creek and its watershed.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil & Water

Farmer Tony Peirick and lakeshore owner Bill Boettge dreaded a nonpoint source work group they feared would be a shouting match. They now work together protecting Dodge County lakes and streams.

Watch the Video >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Polk County, Iowa SWCD

Meet the people whose active, focused approach to marketing and delivery brought saturated buffer installations in Polk County from two to 50+ annually.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Peno Creek Landowner Council

“We wanted to collaborate with farmers,” said Missouri Department of Conservation's Chris Williamson, "but we didn’t know how. So instead of developing a program and trying to pitch it, we listened.”

Watch the Video >

Boots on the Ground | Root River Field to Stream Partnership

For years 47 farmers in three small southeast Minnesota watersheds collaborated to monitor water and nutrient movement on their land, and to minimize soil and nutrient loss with targeted on-farm work.

Watch the Video >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Jo Daviess County Soil & Water Health Coalition

Jo Daviess County Soil & Water Health Coalition’s members meet monthly to discuss soil health. The welcoming circle is bringing their community alive with interest in its land and streams.

Listen to Podcast >

Neighbor to Neighbor | Tainter Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council

Farmer-Led Council members representing diverse cropping systems, diverse crops, and conventional and organic approaches are working together to meet local goals for farms and water.

Listen to Podcast >

Boots on the Ground | Clean River Partners

Meet a watershed coordinator, farmer, two college professors and Rice SWCD staff who are breaking down barriers and working together to keep nutrients and sediment out of Rice Creek.

Watch the Video >

Boots on the Ground | Black Hawk Creek Water & Soil Coalition

Hear how Iowa's Black Hawk Creek Soil & Water Coalition began, what's worked (and hasn't), and how they're building a sustainable basin-wide initiative.

Watch the Video >

RFD TV Interview | Fishers & Farmers Combines Sustainable Farming & Stream Management

A 14-inch brook trout is a trophy in most waters, but in a small Minnesota stream in farm country it's noteworthy. Rice Creek brook trout thrive because upstream farmers made changes.

Read the Story >

Hannibal, Missouri | August 6-7, 2018

For two days in Hannibal, Missouri, 45 participants explored the question: What’s needed now to engage more farmers and landowners in actively caring about streams and water quality? Participants shared their own diverse experiences and knowledge in a series of conversations, then supported each other in identifying next wise steps for work at home.

Review the Workshop >