COLLABORATION: North Central Region Water Network

One thing about water – it affects everyone in some way, every single day. Water can bring us together (or tear us apart, but let’s focus on the positives).

One thing about the Iowa Water Center – we are innately connected to every other Water Resources Research Institute in the country (53 others – one in every state and four territories) through the National Institute of Water Resources. Collaboration is at our core.

Collaborating for better water management is one of IWC’s primary principles. To that end, this is the first post in the COLLABORATION category.

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The North Central Region Water Network

Mission: “We work together to ensure safe and sufficient water supplies by increasing the scope and positive impact of multi-state water outreach and research efforts in the North Central Region of the United States.”

Twelve states, working together for clean, abundant water. The North Central Region Water Network came together in 2013 as a mechanism for collaboration between Extension water resource professionals and university, federal, state, NGO and industry partners.

The Network as identified five priority areas:

-agriculture and water quality
-ecosystem restoration/protection
-water supply and waste systems
-water literacy and stewardship
-water management planning and leadership

The Network has a number of ways it is working toward making impacts in these areas. Today, we’ll highlight three – The Current webinar series, seed grant competition, and the North Central Region Water Network 2014 conference.

The Current Webinar Series

Self-described as a “speed networking webinar series,” The Current offers four, 10 minute “project snapshots” and 20 minutes for Q&A.  Past webinars include topics like soil health, social science in water, and decision support tools for nutrient management. The webinars are free and easy to access: a quick online registration form will get you signed up.

Seed grant competition

The Network’s seed grant competition is for multi-state initiatives in Extension or capacity building. Requests can be made for up to $30,000 per project. The current deadline is November 30, 2014.

What kind of projects is the Network looking to fund?

-planning projects
-program delivery projects
-professional development for Extension professionals to improve water-related Extension programs.

Proposals must include three states, address Network goals, and show the potential to demonstrate and document impact. The website currently has the 2014 RFA available for download; if you’re interested in the 2015 RFA you can contact Rebecca Power.

2014 North Central Region Water Network Conference

The Network’s inaugural conference was held last week in Bloomington, Minnesota. Over 100 Extension educators and researchers attended for an excellent opportunity to network, build partnerships and establish relationships for collaborative efforts.

Among traditional professional development presentations (including one from IWC Director Rick Cruse on the Iowa Daily Erosion Project), one of the most valuable activities at this year’s conference was the “Topic Table” discussion session. Attendees were split up based on their focus area of interest (seven in all, plus an ad hoc “watershed planning” group). At these tables, participants were encouraged to discuss current programming efforts and future needs and potential projects. In terms of spurning collaboration, this activity hit the nail on the head.

 

So, give the North Central Region Water Network a try. Hey, they’re even on Twitter!

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