The North Central Region Water Network is a recently formed partnership between extension agencies and professionals in twelve states. The network was created to help foster collaboration between researchers and extension staff throughout these states addressing water issues common to the region.
The Current, a webinar series designed to connect people with the new network and the water issues that are critical to the region, held the first round of presentations earlier this month. IISG’s water resource economist Margaret Schneeman was among the presenters for the inaugural webinar, Managing Water Supply: Resources for Education, Engagement, and Research, and she highlighted the work done so far to address water supply planning in northeastern Illinois. Gary Zoubek of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, and David Lusch from Michigan State University presented for the webinar as well.
Through both the webinars and collaboration between extension programs, the North Central Region Water Network hopes to expand water protection efforts, research, and the spread of information throughout the states. Visit the webpage (linked above) to learn more.
Staff members from 20 different Sea Grant programs across the U.S. attended two Sea Grant Academy sessions this year (one week in April, and one in October). The academy was developed to give Sea Grant employees valuable training and professional development information in a variety of fields, benefiting their work and the work of all Sea Grant programs at large.
Five staff members from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant were able to attend, and participated in sessions ranging from the history of Sea Grant to project design and evaluation, social science training, time management, communicating the importance of ocean science to various audiences, and much more.
IISG’s Danielle Hilbrich, Greg Hitzroth, Kristin TePas, Kara Salazar, and Sarah Zack were among the more than 40 Sea Grant professionals who completed both weeks of training and graduated from Sea Grant Academy with new information and skills to bring to their work protecting the Great Lakes.
“Sea Grant Academy was a really unique opportunity to meet people from around the country that are working on the same issues we are,” said Sarah. “I thought that it was a great way to foster both partnerships between programs and friendships between specialists. I really enjoyed meeting all the attendees and hearing all about the great work they’re doing.”
And Kristin TePas wrote, “It was a great opportunity to connect with other Sea Grant specialists from around the country. Also, hosting the meeting in Duluth provided a great opportunity to showcase our freshwater coast and the issues surrounding the Great Lakes.”
To learn more about the National Sea Grant program and the work being done to protect America’s coastal resources, visit the NOAA Sea Grant webpage.
As summer begins to wind down, so do IISG’s summer internships. For John Saltanovitz, though, working as an intern at Purdue University’s Sustainable Communities Extension Program is just the beginning. With a summer full of hands-on outreach experience under his belt, John plans to pursue a career as an environmental engineer so he can continue to help communities and organizations better use and conserve natural resources.
Many of the issues surrounding community sustainability—such as land use planning, pollution prevention, and water conservation—were not new to John when he started working with IISG’s Kara Salazar earlier this summer. As a senior working towards a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science and a life-long resident of Northwest Indiana, he was even familiar with some outreach efforts already underway in the Lake Michigan region. His summer internship gave him a chance to apply what he has learned over the years and work firsthand with communities.
“We hear a lot about sustainability in our classes and talk about what needs to be done” said John. “This internship gave me a chance to do something instead of just talk it. It’s really exciting to be working on things that you always said you wanted to do.”
Much of his summer efforts went towards developing a guide for conducting “green” meetings and events. At the heart of the guide is a checklist of best practices that advise anyone planning or managing events, helping them make sustainable decisions. Some of these best practices include relying on public transportation, composting leftover food, and reducing waste. Throughout his internship, John worked directly with Purdue Extension educators and specialists, the guide’s primary audience, to determine what information they needed and develop the checklist. The Best Practices Guide for Green Meetings and Events will soon be sent to Purdue Agriculture Communications for peer review and editing before publishing the finalized version through Extension.
In addition to his work on the guide, John helped develop a new Purdue Master Gardener advanced training program for rain gardeners, provided content on education strategies for the Tipping Points and Indicators Project, contributed information to the new Sustainable Communities website, and led outreach activities at the IISG booth during the Wabash Riverfest in West Lafayette. He was also involved in planning for IAGLR, and joined three other IISG interns as a volunteer during the week-long conference.
“Through his enthusiasm, detailed work, and dedication, John has truly helped to advance new program offerings and education materials that will support sustainability programs in communities state-wide,” said Kara. “I look forward to continuing to work with John as we complete the peer review and editing process for the Best Practices Guide for Green Meetings and Events publication.”
While it may not be lawn care season in many parts of the country, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year and the best methods, tools, and information that are available to ensure healthy lawns and healthy ecosystems.
The University of Illinois’ website “Lawn Talk” is a useful and popular site offering an abundance of information to homeowners, property managers, and landscape professionals throughout northern Illinois.
Now updated and redesigned, the website’s new look and content were made possible in part by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Lawn to Lake program. Incorporating information and resources from these two entities has made it possible for the site to move beyond traditional, chemical-heavy lawn care advice by recommending natural lawn care resources. Additionally, the relationship between lawn care and water quality is better represented and respected by the up-to-date information on the site, creating a resource that helps protect the environment while ensuring the health and beauty of lawns and landscapes.
This site update also allows University of Illinois Extension to offer even more multimedia content, including instructional videos, interactive activities and features, and more.