First Land and Water Symposium Packs the Hall

A large lecture hall was packed with students, faculty, former faculty and community members for the first Ralph K. Morris Foundation/UW-Stevens Point Land and Water Stewardship Symposium. The event was held in April at the university’s College of Natural Resources.

Clare Lindahl, Keynote Speaker

Keynote speaker Clare Lindahl, chief executive officer of the international Soil and Water Conservation Society shared stories from her own path to leadership with the students. The message had meaning coming from the first woman and youngest person ever to lead the professional organization.

Lindahl and panelists focused on the importance of the Farm Bill reauthorization to the nation’s wellbeing. Other panelists included farmer/author Justin Isherwood of Plover, soil scientist Tom Sauer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Mike Carlson, executive director of Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s land trust alliance.

Key themes:

  • Panelists encouraged students to become involved through tools like social media, with Lindahl saying “We need to make conservation a dialogue.”
  • Lindahl affirmed that “Our quality of life in American really depends on soil and water conservation.”
  • Farmers are an “endangered species,” said Isherwood, with farm prices reaching lows “unseen in 10 to 20 years.”
  • Conservation is a long-term commitment, said Sauer, noting that changing the rules in the Farm Bill could be harmful.

The discussion led to a spirited question-and-answer session.

To view a video of the symposium, click here.

In addition to cooperative development, the Ralph K. Morris Foundation’s mission includes promoting farmland preservation, land stewardship and sustainability.


Participants in the Ralph K. Morris/UW-Stevens Point Land and Water Stewardship Symposium included (from left) farmer/author Justin Isherwood, soil scientist Tom Sauer, Gathering Waters Executive Director Mike Carlson and keynote speakers Clare Lindahl, chief executive officer of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.