Extension, CALS representatives bring expertise to state conservation board

Among other roles, the State of Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Board (LWCB) advises the University of Wisconsin System on research and outreach needs. Board members include John Exo, Agriculture Water Quality program manager at the UW–Madison Division of Extension, and Francisco Arriaga, Extension specialist and associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

“Extension and CALS are important representatives on LWCB, because they bring expertise on the science of soil and water conservation as it applies to societal challenges facing citizens, conservationists, and agricultural and natural resources stakeholders,” Exo said.

Exo recently shared that Extension is prioritizing resources toward agricultural water quality issues by hiring four outreach specialists for its Agriculture Water Quality Program, which addresses the growing demand for water quality outreach and education in Wisconsin. Extension has hired four specialists located around the state since then.

The board’s mandate is comprehensive, according to Arriaga, associate professor in the Department of Soil Science. Its scope includes looking at how counties are promoting and implementing ideas that address issues around soil and water quality, which vary from county to county.

“[UW–Madison’s] involvement keeps us connected to LWCB’s work and allows us to share what’s happening on campus,” Arriaga said.

LWCB brings together leaders from around the state on conservation and farmland preservation issues, according to its website. The board’s duties include reviewing county land and water plans and providing a forum to discuss emerging issues related to soil and water conservation. LWCB advises state agencies, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Arriaga’s and Exo’s involvement embodies the Wisconsin Idea, the university’s guiding principle that education should benefit people’s lives beyond the classroom, which Arriaga believes is why UW–Madison’s involvement is so important: “That’s at the heart of it — working together to figure out what’s best for the state.”