Sessions & Presenters

Red Cedar Session and Presenter Information
In this Section
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Paul Robbins
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Paul Robbins

2020 PEOPLE Opening Keynote: Managing Water Now: Individual Behaviors, Structural Barriers, and the Inevitability of Change

Paul Robbins, Dean, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

PEOPLE Keynote Description
Managing Water Now: Individual Behaviors, Structural Barriers, and the Inevitability of Change

Addressing complex problems like water quality in Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, while attending to the realities of people’s lives and livelihoods, has always been a challenge. Now, however, the problem is all the more acute, since the number of stakeholders has proliferated, the realities of farm and urban economics have become harsher, and rainfall and temperatures in the region have hit new, and unprecedented levels. Can we depend on individual action and responsibility to bring about widespread change? What structural barriers are there that keep citizens and policy-makers from making different decisions? Is just providing more information enough? This session will present some case materials to address these questions. Using the case of consumer landscape chemical use, the presentation will explore the power of individuals to make a difference in improving water quality, while also explaining why individual action is sometimes not enough. The presentation will conclude with implications of these realities for managing water quality more generally, in diverse urban/rural communities.

Paul Robbins Biography

Paul Robbins is the dean of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Robbins has years of experience as a researcher and educator, specializing in human interactions with nature and the politics of natural resource management.

With writing focused on diverse interdisciplinary audiences and the broader public, he is author of the foundational textbook Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. His award-winning book Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are is widely recognized as one of the most accessible books on the environmental politics of daily life.

A UW-Madison alumnus with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, Paul Robbins also holds a master's degree and doctorate in geography, both from Clark University. He was raised in Denver, Colorado.

Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Kris Nichols
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Kris Nichols

2020 LAND Afternoon Keynote: Regenerative Agriculture: Impacts on Water Quality

Kris Nichols, PhD, Soil Microbiologist, KRIS Systems Education & Consultation, Knowledge for Regeneration & Innovation in Soil, Scottsdale, Arizona

LAND Keynote Description
Regenerative Agriculture: Impacts on Water Quality

The soil is the foundation for any system to work while the management practices are the tools.  A regenerative systems approach focused on soil biology will utilize integrated, dynamic principles to synergize biologically-based practices to address fertility, pest and disease issues.  These regenerative systems have the potential to leverage increasing soil organic matter to feed soil biology.  This presentation will discuss crop diversity including perennials and annuals as well as cover and companion crops, reduced soil disturbance, and managed grazing to increase profitability by maximizing nutrient and water use efficiencies.

Kris Nichols Biography

Dr. Kris Nichols is the founder and principal scientist of KRIS (Knowledge for Regeneration and Innovation in Soils) Systems Education & Consultation.  She currently works as a Soil Microbiologist and Research Consultant with MyLand Company LLC and Understanding Ag., LLC.  Previously, she was Rodale Institute’s Chief Scientist from 2014-2017 and a Research (Soil) Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for 14 years.  Kris has B.S. degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota, an M.S. in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland.  Her focus is addressing current and future agricultural needs by building upon a soil health foundation to identify biological tools to enhance soil health, water and nutrient use efficiencies, pest and disease management, and mitigate climate change to provide long-term solutions to agricultural economic viability, food insecurity, and ecosystem services loss.  Kris grew up on a 640-acre grain farm in SW Minnesota. Dr. Nichols has received several awards including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society and has over 25 peer-reviewed publications as well as been quoted in numerous outreach publications.

Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Raj Shukla
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Raj Shukla

2020 WATER Closing Keynote: A Wisconsin Water Agenda for All

Raj Shukla, Executive Director, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

WATER Keynote Description
A Wisconsin Water Agenda for All

Brown water events, lead contamination, and flooding are becoming ever-present realities in Wisconsin. Our patchwork system for water management cannot achieve our human health or ecological needs. 

River Alliance of Wisconsin is taking on the task to create a Wisconsin Water Agenda; a “Green New Deal” for water that defines policy and program priorities to manage our challenges in keeping with our commitments to equity and social justice. But this is not just about new ideas; it’s about building a movement to turn ideas into a reality through local action led by local advocates across Wisconsin

Join River Alliance’s mission to protect and restore water in Wisconsin.

Raj Shukla Biography

Raj Shukla is the Executive Director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin with over a decade of experience in program design, development and management to tackle pressing social and environmental needs. Most recently as Director of Programs with Wisconsin-based nonprofit, Cool Choices, he led public engagement and energy efficiency programs in businesses, schools and government agencies across the United States.

Previously, Raj developed youth education programs for former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. He trained elected officials and candidates how to effectively mobilize resources and voters with Progressive Majority Wisconsin. With the Greater Milwaukee committee, he organized businesses in southeastern Wisconsin to invest in inner city neighborhoods.

Raj currently serves as Chair of the Sustainable Madison Committee, a city advisory committee of mayoral appointees who work to realize the community’s social and environmental aspirations.

In their spare time, Raj and his wife, Tora Frank, chase their three young children around the neighborhood, through Wisconsin’s beautiful parks and into the occasional ice cream shop.

2020 Breakout Presentations

Morning Session Block
10:15 am – 11:15 am

Afternoon Session Block
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

LAND: Rotational Grazing for Profitability and Resource Prot
Rotational Grazing for Profitability and Resource Protection

Could rotational grazing diversify your farm, rejuvenate your spirit, improve farm profitability and regenerate your farm soil and water resources?  The answer is a resounding “YES”.  Join us as we delve into the world of rotational grazing and all that it encompasses.

Serge Koenig-Breakout Presenter

Presenter: Serge Koenig, Conservation Technician
Sauk County, Wisconsin

Serge Koenig has been a Sauk County natural resource professional for over twenty-five years. He has a Watershed Management degree and a Soils Minor from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Serge has been working with landowners and various organizations in Sauk County to sustain and improve its natural resources. He is a tireless advocate of managed rotational grazing as tool for regenerating our soils, water and human resources. In his free time he loves spending time with his family gardening, traveling, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and coaching his two boys’ soccer and basketball teams.

Memorial Student Center, Great Hall, 10:15 am – 11:15 am

LAND: Regenerative Agriculture - A Strategy for Local Econom
Regenerative Agriculture - A Strategy for Local Economic Development

The workshop will provide a presentation and discussion on how rural communities can utilize regenerative agriculture as a strategy for fostering sustainable economic development. The session will look at how building soil health, expanding our base of diversified farms and protecting environmental resources can generate community prosperity. Ken Meter is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., integrating market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns.

Ken Meter-Breakout

Presenter: Ken Meter, President
Crossroads Resource Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ken Meter is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., integrating market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns. Meter holds 47 years of experience in inner-city and rural community capacity building. His local economic analyses have promoted local food networks in 140 regions in 40 states, two provinces, and three tribal nations. He developed a $9.85-milllion plan for local food investment for the state of South Carolina, and completed similar studies for Hawai’i, Alaska, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota. Meter is also a member of the International Economic Development Council, and has presented at several annual meetings. He has taught at the Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Minnesota.

Memorial Student Center, Great Hall, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

WATER: Urban Watershed Improvements from Cumberland & Menomo
Urban Watershed Improvements from Cumberland & Menomonie

Attend the Cumberland/Menomonie breakout session and learn how a Lake District and Municipality have been working to improve their watershed.  From the Beaver Dam Lake Management District in Cumberland, WI at the top of our watershed to the City of Menomonie at the bottom of our watershed you will hear how they have used different tools to improve their lakes and how they have worked with government agencies and organizations to secure funding and community support over the years.  The Beaver Dam Lake Management District recently received the 2019 Wisconsin Lake Stewardship Award (single lake category) at the Annual Lakes Partnership Conference.  The District's success stories supporting this award are important for all of us to hear.  The City of Menomonie is a stormwater permitted municipality.  While challenging, the City of Menomonie has continued to work to meet their permit requirements.  Stop by and listen to some of the interesting and perhaps creative ways these two urban entities are moving the needle forward and improving the watershed in their backyard.

Randy Eide-Breakout

Presenter: Randy D. Eide, P.E.
Director of Public Works
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Randy is the Director of Public Works for the City of Menomonie. He is responsible for utilities, streets, engineering, construction and various other activities in the City of Menomonie — his responsibilities include the management of the city's storm water utility.   Randy graduated from UW-Madison with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1983 and from the Air Force Institute of Technology with a MS in Engineering Management in 1988.  After attending UW-Madison, Randy served in the United States Air Force as a Civil Engineering Officer for over 21-years and retired at the grade of Lt Col in 2004.  Since 2004 Randy has worked for the City of Menomonie as the Director of Public Works.

Mike Werner-Breakout

Presenter: Michael Werner, President
Werner Leading Solutions
Cumberland, Wisconsin

Mike has over 46 years of operational and safety leadership in the commercial nuclear power industry. Mike also has extensive civic leadership experience having served as the Mayor of Hastings, Minnesota for 16 years, on the City Council of Hastings, Minnesota for 8 years, and as a volunteer fireman and paramedic for over 25 years.

Mike currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Beaver Dam Lake Management District (BDLMD). Mike has been involved with the invasive aquatic material management program, storm water runoff abatement projects, lake water quality controls as well as supporting the funding of various projects through grant applications.

Mike has experience with owning lake side property on Lake Minnewaska in Glenwood Minnesota as well as Ten Mile Lake on the Chetek Chain of Lakes in Chetek Wisconsin and is currently residing on Beaver Dam Lake in Cumberland Wisconsin. All three of these lake areas have their own challenges but the attention to preserving lake quality by the BDLMD is a testament to aggressive management and successful outcomes.

Memorial Student Center, Ballrooms, 10:15 am – 11:15 am

WATER: Seeking the Nexus Between Multi-State and Local Water
Seeking the Nexus Between Multi-State and Local Water Quality Improvement

The Governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin work collaboratively through the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) with the goal of advancing their shared commitment to protect and improve water quality on the mainstem Mississippi. As a regional interstate forum, the UMRBA facilitates cooperative action, fosters relationships with federal agencies, and represents the states at a national level – but Association members recognize that local watershed success is a precursor to improving mainstem water quality and are seeking the appropriate nexus between local and regional efforts. Progress towards the shared commitment will be discussed, including collaborative monitoring and a draft legislative framework aimed at propelling nutrient and sediment runoff reduction in the basin.

Jim Fischer-Breakout

Presenter: Jim Fischer, Mississippi River Monitoring Team Leader
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Jim Fischer leads the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Mississippi River Team out of La Crosse. Fischer has worked 29 years on the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) as a Water Quality Specialist, Planner, and Team Leader. He is on the Board of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA), the UMRBA Water Quality Executive Committee, Water Quality Task Force, and the UMR Restoration Coordinating Committee. An alumnus of the UW-La Crosse River Studies Center, and UW Extension’s Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program, Fischer holds an MS degree in aquatic biology from UWL.

Memorial Student Center, Ballrooms, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

PEOPLE: Welcoming Women Outdoors
Welcoming Women Outdoors

The Wisconsin Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program has welcomed thousands of women to the outdoors by teaching them beginner-level outdoor skills to help them enjoy nature, become more confident, and gain a deeper appreciation for our natural resources. This presentation will explain the history, philosophy, and purpose of the BOW program through stories and photos.

Peggy Farrell-Breakout

Presenter: Peggy Farrell, Director, Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW), UW-Steven's Point
Steven's Point, Wisconsin

Peggy Farrell is the director of the International and Wisconsin Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) programs. In her 18 years with BOW, she has welcomed thousands of women to the outdoors by teaching them beginner-level outdoor skills that help them better enjoy nature and feel more confident. 

Farrell's outdoor writing has been published in magazines including Wisconsin Natural Resources, North American Hunter, and North American Fisherman and has been featured in a variety of newspapers and on-line publications. Her diverse background includes training in natural resources, journalism, public relations, advertising, editing and publishing, and hunter education. Farrell has a master's degree in environmental education from UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources.

She lives on a small farm outside Amherst, Wisconsin with Border Collies Oona and Andrew, Carl and Charlie the goats, along with several fancy-breed domestic chickens and geese. Farrell's interests turkey hunting, gardening, music, poetry, and fishing.

Memorial Student Center, Cedar/Maplewood Rooms, 10:15 am – 11:15 am

PEOPLE: A River of Gifts: Places and Stories That Make the R
A River of Gifts: Places and Stories That Make the Red Cedar River Unique

We will tell the story of how the River was formed, grew wild rice, became a water highway and was altered to what it is today. We will introduce to the audience the possibility of designating the River a National Heritage Area.

Rod Olson-Breakout

Presenter: Rod Olson
Barron County Historical Activist
Rice Lake, Wisconsin

For 35 years Rod Olson worked as a family and emergency medicine physician in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He grew up on a farm in central Minnesota, married and raised two boys on Desair Lake. For 26 years, working with neighbors and the DNR, he developed innovative ways for water quality improvement. By kayaking the Red Cedar River and its major tributaries, Rod recorded the impact of our lifestyles on the land and water. He is Co-chair of the Red Cedar River Conference and a member of the Red Cedar River Partnership expanding his restoration skills to neighboring lakes and communities.

His latest efforts are to tie historical preservation, art and natural beauty to water stewardship. With a keen interest in local history and geology, he has helped to bring two sculptures to Rice Lake’s Lakeshore Drive. A steel mammoth named “Wooly” to tell the story of Ancient Times and “Trusty Rusty” a draft horse, who represents the arrival of Europeans and the building of Rice Lake. His committee will be working with the Ojibwa to bring the indigenous people’s past history alive along the Red Cedar River. “Knowing what happened along this River is another reason to save it”. 


Brian Gabriel-Breakout

Presenter: Brian J. Gabriel
Dunn County Historical Society
Menomonie, Wisconsin

Brian Gabriel is originally from Meridean, Peru Township, Dunn County, WI. He farmed for many years along the Chippewa River. He has done numerous presentations,  conducted many oral interviews, collected local artifacts, hundreds of vintage photographs and produced many historical documentary videos on the Lower Chippewa River.  He and his son Evan have been exploring and documenting the history of the Lower Chippewa River since 2005.

Brian is a graduate of UW – Eau Claire and UW – River Falls, and a member of the Dunn, Pepin and Buffalo County Historical Societies and the Chippewa Valley Museum. He lives in Menomonie with his wife Norma.

Memorial Student Center, Cedar/Maplewood, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm