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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Fishers & Farmers Partnership & Missouri Department of Conservation Provide Stakeholder Engagement Training with AFWA Multistate Conservation Grant

Region 3, December 9, 2013
Ange Corson, Missouri Dept. of Conservation, leads a discussion during the Iowa Stakeholder Engagement Workshop.
Ange Corson, Missouri Dept. of Conservation, leads a discussion during the Iowa Stakeholder Engagement Workshop. - Photo Credit: n/a
Attendees of the Fishers & Farmers Stakeholder Engagement Workshop in Rochester, MN take part in the
Attendees of the Fishers & Farmers Stakeholder Engagement Workshop in Rochester, MN take part in the "World Cafe" - Photo Credit: n/a

Fishers & Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin has been working with Missouri Department of Conservation and other partners to create stakeholder engagement opportunities in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, to enhance the effectiveness of conservation. Fishers & Farmers was able to secure a 2013 Multistate Conservation Grant from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to put on training workshops for land/water conservation employees and landowners. Missouri Department of Conservation donated the time of three employees to hold four 1½-day training workshops in June - Sedalia (MO), July -Rochester (MN), August - La Crosse (WI), and September - Ankeny (IA). Prior to this grant the instructors held five of these workshops for their Fisheries and other Division Staff in Missouri. Instructors of the class included Ange Corson, Stream Program Coordinator, Ron Reitz, Survey Coordinator, and Eric Rahm, Stream Biologist. The instructors took what they learned from their prior training and developed a process that was directly applicable to their watershed planning process. Training included information from the International Association for Public Participation, Institute for Participatory Management & Planning, and the Environment Protection Agency.

The final product of attending this course was not to have completed stakeholder engagement plans, but rather to have learned the Stakeholder Engagement Planning process. This plan includes understanding who needs to be involved, when to involve them, what level to involve them, and how to involve them. The strength of this planning effort is in its foresight, its transparency, and in providing documentation to support decisions being made along the way. This planning process is germane to watersheds across the Upper Mississippi River Basin and potentially watersheds across the country.


Fishers & Farmers was really able to reach out to agricultural and natural resource groups across the Midwest. A total of 64 people representing 23 organizations attended the workshops including: Fillmore Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa DNR, Iowa Soybean Association, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Forest Resources Council, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Missouri DNR, Mower SWCD, Nicollet SWCD, Trout Unlimited, UM & UW-Extensions, Whitewater Watershed, Winona County, Wisconsin DNR and several others. Most of these folks work directly with farmers and other landowners and are essential to advance aquatic habitat and water quality projects and agricultural best management practices. Attendees of the workshops were either at field level or lower management and said that this type of training was also needed for upper management.

Fishers & Farmers Partnership learned that this training was relevant to people across disciplines. Attendees were in fisheries, forestry, business, agriculture, education, and watershed management and they all said that this training applied to their job. We also learned about new active projects that have been engaging landowners for several years that we didn’t know about. Finally, this workshop not only gave attendees some tools to use in their watershed, but most importantly it also gave them an opportunity to share with others lessons they’ve learned from working with farmers and other stakeholders.

Two landowner/stakeholder engagement activities, including a Missouri demonstration project (November/December 2013) and a Minnesota workshop for landowners (March 2014), were also funded through the Multistate Conservation Grant. Stay tuned for a future report on those accomplishments.

Contact Info: Heidi Keuler, 608-783-8417, Heidi_Keuler@fws.gov