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Life Hacks Over Lunch: A Meet-up Series for Watershed Professionals

This free, virtual meet-up series is a peer-learning opportunity for watershed professionals to share ideas and advice for solving real-life challenges of watershed projects.

If you work with farmers and communities on watershed-scale projects to improve water quality and have ever found yourself thinking, “I don’t want to recreate the wheel,” this meet-up series is for you.

In each meet-up, one person kicks things off by presenting a challenge they’re experiencing in their watershed work for the group to “hack.” Conversation, collaboration, and commiseration will ensue.

Join us for these informal gatherings of peers who share a passion for watershed work – and bring your lunch! Registration required.

Details for the Spring 2024 Season

WHEN:

The 2nd Friday of the month: April 12th, and May 10th, 2024.

TIME:

11:30am CT / 12:30pm ET. The meet-ups last 60 minutes.

PLACE:

Zoom.* We highly recommend you use a device with a camera and microphone, so you can take part in the conversation. *If you have a version of Zoom that is earlier than 5.11.0, you must use the Zoom web application to join.

*Please note: We do not record Life Hacks over Lunch due to its conversational nature, and we spend a good chunk of time in breakout groups.

Next Hack

Friday, May 10th at 11:30am CT/12:30pm ET

Melanie Bomier, Board Conservationist with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, will pitch the following question: How can we evaluate outreach and engagement activities and events effectively and efficiently?

Previous Hacks

Fall 2023 Series

  • December 2023: Speed Networking Edition
  • November 2023: Laura Gregory, Watershed Program Director at the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, kicked us off with this: How do you stay connected with other watershed professionals in your state, and how would you want to see a state-wide network of watershed professionals designed?
  • October 2023: Malissa McAlister, Watershed Project Manager at the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, kicked us off with this: What creative approaches have you used or seen others use to attract interest in water topics at informational booths during community events?

Spring 2023 Series

  • May 2023: Josh Balk, Dry Run Creek Watershed / Source Water Protection Coordinator for Iowa Department of Natural Resource, kicked us off with this: Is urban development pressure impacting landowner and producer attitudes about long-term conservation practice implementation in your watershed, and how are you addressing it in your engagement approach?
  • April 2023: Chris Howard, Watershed Coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, kicked us off with this: How are you encouraging farmers and landowners to be leaders for conservation in your watershed/community?
  • March 2023: Tali MacArthur, Program Manager for Watershed Outreach at the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, kicked us off with this: How can volunteer-based community watershed associations with very small annual budgets conduct effective communications strategies and build more sustainable budgets?

Fall 2022 Series

  • December 2022: During floods, there is a need to keep people out of harm’s way. What are ways watershed professionals and watershed groups can engage a larger diversity of people in their communities and raise broader awareness about flooding and climate change? Nancy Wedwick, president of Coon Creek Community Watershed Council Inc., and Bob Micheel, Monroe County Land Conservation Department Director, kicked off this discussion.
  • November 2022: Kim Meyer, watershed programs coordinator/agronomist for Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, will kicked us off with this: While we know urban practices have a much smaller impact on water quality than agricultural practices in some places, how can we make the case to local leaders and “higher ups” that change in urban areas is still important? What outreach, messaging, and funding approaches could justify the effort and demonstrate that we’re all in this together?
  • October 2022: Becca Trueman, watershed coordinator for Oldham County in Kentucky, kicked us off with this: How can new watershed coordinators learn about key collaborators’ roles and what partners can do what, and then how can they integrate that information into watershed plans? 
  • September 2022: The Speed Networking edition

Spring 2022 Series

  • May 2022: Jean Brokish, Midwest Program Manager for American Farmland Trust, kicked us off with this: Documenting the economic benefits of conservation practices is a challenge, and often farmers are focused only on the upfront costs for seed and new equipment. What documents and data showing economic benefits of conservation are out there, and how can they be used to get more farmers on board?
  • April 2022: Maggie Sullivan, Watershed Coordinator of Friends of Lake Monroe, is trying to help upstream farms and communities connect with a downstream water body of concern, and she’s keen to get input on how to connect the dots between urban/suburban and rural communities and their concerns.
  • March 2022: Joe Bonnell, Natural Resource Educator at UW-Madison Division of Extension, kicked us off with this: What engagement strategies could be effective for working with farmers who are resistant to adopting conservation practices, but whose management practices are contributing disproportionately to water quality problems in a watershed?

Fall 2021 Series

  • December 2021: Jennifer Jones, Watershed Outreach Associate with Illinois Extension, kicked us off with this: How do we encourage and motivate middle to late adopting farmers to become involved in or lead watershed groups in watersheds that are considered state priorities for nutrient loss reduction?
  • November 2021: Malissa McAlister, Kentucky River Basin Coordinator at the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, kicked us off with this: What social media tools or tips should watershed professionals who do outreach have in their toolbox – especially those who don’t come to the job with those skills, but find themselves using social media to reach audiences?
  • October 2021: Eric Schmechel, Watershed Program Director for Dubuque SWCD in Iowa, kicked us off with this: How can watershed professionals work more collaboratively with ag retailers, given the differences in messaging and lines of communication between them?