Conservation Efforts

By UMRI's Outreach Coordinator, Christine Curry and Iowa's Conservation Director, Mike Delaney, and other Iowa Izaak Walton League chapter members

Spring Equinox on the North Raccoon River, March 20, 2022! Photo by: Robin Fortney


The 2023 Farm Bill, 100 years of Conservation, Appreciating Farmers, a Meteorologist who knows his stuff, and more…


What’s happing in DC—


Quick update from Izaak Walton League’s Agriculture Director, Duane Hovorka, March 30th…

* President Biden released his proposed budget for FY 2022 Monday. “I have not seen it yet or had a chance to look it over, but it will tell us something about his priorities with respect to agriculture, climate change, and other natural resource problems,” says Duane.

* House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning at 8 am central time on horticulture and urban agriculture. View it here!

* House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is holding a hearing Friday at 8:30 am on the Great American Outdoors Act and protecting natural areas as part of the climate solution.  Connect here!

* Expect to see lots of hearings over the next several months as the committees ramp up with ideas for the 2023 Farm Bill. The hearings can be webcast live, or you can watch the recordings afterwards from the committees’ web sites.

Duane Hovorka
Izaak Walton League of America
“Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods, Waters and Wildlife”


Farm Bill Inputs— Listening Sessions


At the Des Moines Chapter House—

Iowa’s Conservation Director of the IWLA, Mike Delaney organized discussion sessions to gather input on what federal agriculture policy should be doing to promote better conservation on Iowa farms and ranches.  Both farmers and other Iowa citizens joined in with Izaak Walton League’s Agriculture Director Duane Hovorka Monday evening, March 7th at the Des Moines Chapter House to listen and converse about what’s in play.  Duane shared what he’s learning from others thus far and took notes about what others would like to see in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Listening Session at the Des Moines Chapter House, March 7th, 2022, Photo by: Duane Hovorka


At the Capital—

The next morning Duane met up with Mike Delaney again, this time with a group of legislators at the Des Moines Capital House to discuss and share all the feedback from the Farm Bill that he’s been learning from others.  Jennifer Konfrst, Democrat representing District 43 in the Iowa House of Representatives, and Senator Sarah Trone Garriott were amongst the legislators that had the opportunity to meet with Duane.  Mike was delighted to share with us that after the listening session was finished, a class of 5th graders with a few of their teachers and parents from Ames were able to join in the conference room for a brief presentation from Mike about the Izaak Walton League’s history and mission and about what happens with lobbying at the Capital.  The students were extremely polite and listened carefully as they gobbled the remaining donuts and drank orange juice.

Listening Session with co-facilitator, Pat Boddy at the Des Moines Capital, March 8th, 2022. Photo by: Duane Hovorka


It’s not too late—


Join us Tuesday, April 12th for another opportunity to share your inputs for the 2023 Farm Bill…

Register in advance for another extraordinary presentation— Our monthly “Thinking Like a Watershed” program continues Tuesday, April 12th, 2022 at 7 p.m. Central with a conversation with the agriculture policy director of the Izaak Walton League (IWLA), Duane Hovorka.  How the Izaak Walton League has influenced federal agriculture policy and what WE can do for next year’s Farm Bill.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with the link to join the program on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022 starting at 7 p.m. Central.


The League played an instrumental role in groundbreaking environmental victories during the past 100 years.  Duane will highlight some of those accomplishments such as the creation of the Soil Bank in 1956, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Conservation Reserve Program in 1985, and the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2002.

Duane also will summarize the 2023 Farm Bill suggestions he’s heard during winter listening sessions. It’s not too late to add your own ideas as the Izaak Walton League begins to shape its priorities for next year’s legislative Farm Bill showdown. Bring your suggestions and questions to this Zoom table as Duane pulls together some of the best ideas to help the IWLA prioritize solutions and craft its agenda for the 2023 Farm Bill.

This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. We feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.


Seth Watkins with his cattle on Pinhook Farm. Photo by: Tatum Watkins

Watkins appointed to (FSA) State Committee


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed Iowa members to the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) state committee March 18th.  The members are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations and much more.  One of our well-known conservation farmers, Seth Watkins from Clarinda, Iowa, is one of the appointees.  Seth has been a featured guest on many of our UMRI programs.  To learn more, click here!



March 22nd Farmers’ Appreciation Night—


The annual Farmers’ Appreciation Night was organized by Des Moines Chapter President, Doug Pooch. The evening included a panel discussion with the Griffieon Family, Ankeny, IA. We learned about their embrace of sustainable agriculture and the technology and hard work it takes to make it happen! We were honored to host them and learn about this great family enterprise! Thanks also to our sponsor, Wyffels Hybrids, for making sure all of our friends in agriculture enjoyed a delicious steak dinner!

Thanks to Craig, LaVon, Nick and Phil Griffieon of Griffieon Family Farm [Pictured with Chapter President Doug Pooch (L)] for joining us for annual Farmer Appreciation Night Tuesday, March 22nd at the Des Moines Chapter House! Photo by: Bud Hartley

Farmers’ Appreciation Night gathering March 22nd, 2022! Photo by: Bud Hartley



Talking Climate—



Des Moines Chapter Communications Director Bud Hartley lines up some amazing individuals for the Tuesday evening presentations.  The relevant topics are packed full of great information that benefit life in our watershed.  KCCI’s Chief Meteorologist Chris Gloninger presented to about 50 people at the Des Moines Izaak Walton League’s Chapter House on March 29th at 6:45 pm.  Chris spoke about climate change and the critical risk to our environment and how and why it’s changing Iowa’s agricultural landscape with more severe weather patterns. We also learned that Chris has done all of his own research and that he has created his own graphs with data he can back up for his presentations. He’s a three time Emmy award winner and Certified Broadcast Meteorologist!

“The Problem” CO2 Graph Image, Provided by: Chris Gloninger



An inter-League of Women Voters presents legislative options


The League of Women Voters-Upper Mississippi River Region interleague organization (LWV UMRR) hosts its annual meeting May 21, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. with a discussion of innovative answers to that million dollar question, “Does it take an act of Congress to protect the Mississippi?” From a recent blog promoting the event, league communications director Gretchen Sabel writes, “We will cover the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience initiative (MRRRI), the Saving the Mississippi River Together initiative (SMRT), the Farm Bill reauthorization and a big idea – the notion of an Upper Midwest Compact to protect the waters of the Mississippi from diversion.  Our speakers represent organizations that are working to protect the Mississippi.”  Details on speakers and to register are found here! 


Lasting Ripples of Gratitude—


UMRI’s LOVE Match Campaign was successful… Thanks to all of you who contributed.  We are forever grateful, especially for the initial $5,000 contribution that was provided for the campaign by lifetime conservationists Bill and Lynne Rogers. They shared their love of the of the water with their granddaughter through the support of UMRI’s conservation efforts.  Donations are welcomed anytime!

Lifetime Conservationists Bill & Lynne Rogers support UMRI in the name of Love…and for future generations to come! Photo provided by the Rogers.


SAVE Bloody Run Update—


Judge rules lawsuit may continue over Supreme Beef feedlot near Bloody Run Creek | The Gazette

Citizens Science in the Works—


Save Our Stream teams are started up again. Stand by for more updates soon…

Water Monitoring On-line Workshops

Join our watershed partners…April 9th!


Attend In-Person or On-line via Zoom
Des Moines Area Community College, Urban Campus
Des Moines (Bldg. 7, 7th St. and University, exit 235 on 6th)

2022 Thinking Like a Watershed programs—


“Championing the Upper Mississippi River Region” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Mary Ellen Miller— March 8th, 2022 How a life-long conservationist became an advocate for the Mississippi…a League president discusses conservation & change with Mary Ellen Miller, President, League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region

Our February program featured Kelly McGinnis the executive director of the Mississippi River Network which includes 58 organizations including the Izaak Walton League and several of our UMRI partners.

The POWER of 1 Mississippi & 20,000 River Citizens” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Kelly McGinnis— February 22nd, 2022 How 58 organizations team up to drive policy—“Can the river count on you?” A call to action…

Kelly shared the power of the Mississippi River Network’s (MRN) use of public outreach and policy advocacy such as the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative Act. You’ll find out about the activities of the network, a coalition of 58 organizations dedicated to creating a healthier Mississippi River by working for the well-being of the people, land, water, and wildlife of America’s largest watershed.


Photo by: David Thoreson

Our January program was kicked off with an update from Save Bloody Run. Where we learned the latest details from water policy scientist, Steve Veysey.“Save Bloody Run Goes to Court” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Steve Veysey— January 4th, 2022  An update from a Dedicated Water Policy Scientist who has turned Radical to Save Bloody Run.


2021 Thinking Like a Watershed Programs—

“Heartland Heroines” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Robin Moore & Denise O’Brien— June 1, 2021  How two savvy conservationists empower working farm landowners to put their inner land ethic to work.

 “Planting Seeds to Grow Vibrant Communities” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Chris Deal & Art Cullen— May 4, 2021  How Jefferson, Iowa’s Chris Deal is working with California Rep. Ro Khanna and others to grow vibrant rural communities in the Heartland with perspectives from Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist and editor of The Storm Lake Times, Art Cullen.

“Watershed Bridges— Green to Blue”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Vicki Nichols Goldstein & Seth Watkins— April 6, 2021  How improving soil health and water quality in Iowa and other inland states benefit watersheds that provide critical services from land to sea.

— “Local Heroes in Howard County”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Neil Shaffer & Hunter Slifka— March 2, 2021  How they have incorporated several thousand acres of land under conservation programs–the largest percentage in Iowa.

“The Accidental Conservationist”: Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Wayne Fredericks— February 2, 2021  How an Iowa Farmer is Improving Natural Capital while Increasing Profits with Conservationist and Farmer, Wayne Fredericks from Mitchell County, Iowa.

Learn more—


Winter Salt Watch
in the works—

Izaak Walton League provides a fun educational outdoor activity for the entire family…
Learn more here!

To help celebrate the Izaak Walton Leagues’ 100th anniversary in 2022, The Des Moines Chapter is heading up an effort to expand the Izaak Walton League’s SOS (Save our Streams) program throughout Iowa.  This is the only nationwide program training volunteers to protect waterways from pollution and to bring information about water quality to their communities.

The IWL’s history: At the turn of the 20th century, uncontrolled discharges of industrial waste and raw sewage, unrestricted logging, and soil erosion threatened to destroy the nation’s most productive waterways. The country’s forests, wetlands, and wilderness areas were quickly disappearing. In 1922, 54 sportsmen declared that it was “time to call a halt” to this destruction. Aware that action – not just talk – would be necessary to solve these problems, the group decided to form an organization to combat water pollution and protect the country’s woods and wildlife. As a reminder of their purpose, they named the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th-century English angler-conservationist who wrote the literary classic The Compleat Angler.

“Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods, Waters & Wildlife”

Continue to Stay Safe and Stay Engaged…

Save our Streams—On-line training to become a certified Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Stream monitor

Click Here to learn more about Save Bloody Run

— Izaak Walton League’s Outdoor America articles on line. 

—About water quality monitoring and research, check out The University of Iowa’s Chris Jones blog who has published several articles on where Iowa stands with regards to soil health and water quality.

—Wait no longer to watch, re-watch and share PFI’s full-length film, “Livestock on the Land“. Please help us get this to as many viewers as possible – farmers, eaters, citizens and policymakers.

Iowa Farmers Union Events, check out their amazing weekly webinars…

Iowa Environmental Council’s Event page is packed with fabulous opportunities to learn more from their organization and others.