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Serving: IA

Conservation Learning Group adds staff

Farm Progress forest in Iowa
TREES CAN HELP: Two of Iowa’s toughest environmental issues are excess nutrients and flooding of rivers and streams.
ISU think tank adds two specialists to its team, with expertise in forestry and wetlands.

The Conservation Learning Group, a think tank based at Iowa State University and dedicated to addressing conservation and environmental challenges, announced the recent expansion of its multidisciplinary team of researchers and experts.

Added to the ILF team are William “Billy” Beck, assistant professor Natural Resource Ecology and Management at ISU, and Kay Stefanik, ISU Extension forestry specialist and assistant director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at ISU.

The Conservation Learning Group (CLG) is a collaborative team that draws on resources throughout the university and public conservation communities to facilitate training, outreach and research designed to encourage land-use changes through sustainable practices in ag and natural systems that will promote environmental improvements.

Focusing on forestry, water quality

“Fundamental to the success of CLG is the inclusion of members from different backgrounds and expertise who bring new perspectives to our discussions and actions,” says CLG Director Jacqueline Comito. “Kay and Billy help round out the teams with their extensive field experience in wetlands and aquatic ecology, and the relationship between trees and water quality. In the short time since both have joined CLG, their input has had a positive impact on our research and outreach.”

Beck brings his passions for forestry and water quality to his work at ISU and with CLG. He is dedicated to increasing awareness regarding the role that forests play in addressing two of Iowa’s toughest environmental issues — excessive nutrients and flooding in our rivers and streams.

“Trees are a powerful resource that are often overlooked in the water quality conversation here in Iowa,” Beck says. “We think about wildlife, cropping systems and water management, but trees are equally important. My goal is to get producers and conservationists to think about the positive contribution trees make to the overall health of our systems, from providing wildlife habitat to supporting solutions for water quality challenges in our state.”

Wetlands, nutrient management

Stefanik is a well-respected expert in aquatic and wetland ecology. Her work centers around water quality improvements through the advancement of edge-of- field and in-field practices, which affect how nutrients move through soil and water.

“I got into science to make a difference in the environment, and becoming a part of CLG provides me with great opportunities to contribute to improvements in agriculture and natural systems that can reduce the level of nutrients in Iowa waterways,” Stefanik says. “While Iowa has significant challenges with nutrients in its waterways, the state has invested in remedying them through programs like CLG. It’s great to be at the center of change, and I am pleased to contribute my wetlands expertise to the team’s efforts.”

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