Sessions & Presenters

Red Cedar Session and Presenter Information
In this Section
Judith Schwartz
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Judith Schwartz

2021 LAND Opening Keynote: The Art and Practice of Earth Repair; Stories from Around the World

Judith Schwartz, Author and journalist whose work explores nature-based solutions to global environmental and economic challenges. She is the author of Cows Save the Planet and Water in Plain Sight.

LAND Keynote Description
The Art and Practice of Earth Repair; Stories from Around the World

Our news reports hammer home the extent to which the world’s natural systems are in decline. What gets overlooked, however, is the growing global movement to regenerate damaged landscapes and watersheds. Across the world, people are restoring ecological function, reviving communities and gaining knowledge of how to work with nature’s predilection toward health and abundance. In this talk, Judith D. Schwartz takes us to deserts, islands, and the snowy north for a glimpse of what’s happening—and what’s on the horizon.

9:00 am - 10:15 am

Judith Schwartz Biography

Judith D. Schwartz is a Vermont-based journalist who focuses on nature-based solutions to global challenges, a theme she brings to readers and audiences throughout the world. The author of books on soil and water, her most recent title is “The Reindeer Chronicles and Other Inspiring Stories of Working With Nature to Heal the Earth".

Adam Reimer
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Adam Reimer

2021 WATER Lunch Keynote: Charting a Path for a Socially Regenerative Agriculture

Adam Reimer, PhD
National Wildlife Federation

WATER Keynote Description
Charting a Path for a Socially Regenerative Agriculture

Tackling the water quality and conservation challenges in agriculture requires technical and economic knowledge and tools, but cannot stop there. A vibrant and resilient agricultural sector relies on an acknowledgement of the economic, social, and cultural components of farming and rural communities. A truly sustainable, regenerative food system will not only focus on the practices that build soil health and provide agronomic resilience, but also invest in the people and communities managing those systems. This work will require changes to the underlying economic, market, and policy structures that drive landscape and farm-scale decisions, as well as building a stronger sense of purpose and community in agricultural communities. Leveraging the collective knowledge and experience of what has worked, and not worked, in agricultural conservation, this talk will lay out a vision of what a socially regenerative agriculture would look like in Wisconsin and the broader global food system.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Adam Reimer Biography

Adam Reimer is a conservation outreach specialist at the National Wildlife Federation. After background training in wildlife ecology and management, he went on to establish himself as a leader in research on agricultural conservation decision-making at Purdue University and Michigan State University. With over 20 peer-reviewed publications, Adam’s research has focused on farmer decisions to adopt key conservation practices, including no-till, cover crops, field buffers, and nutrient management practices. He brings his experience in conservation behavior change to support the National Wildlife Federation’s sustainable agriculture and outreach programs, providing expertise in evaluating behavior change impacts of these programs. In addition to his research background, Adam held a one-year postdoctoral fellowship with the National Agricultural and Rural Development Policy Center in 2012, where he explored emerging rural policy issues, including water management and conservation policy. Adam has a B.S. in wildlife from Purdue University, an M.S. and M.P.A. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in natural resources social science from Purdue University.

Tia Nelson
Red Cedar Watershed Conference Keynote Tia Nelson

2021 PEOPLE Closing Keynote: United, We Can Solve This

Tia Nelson, Managing Director of Climate
Outrider, Madison, Wisconsin

PEOPLE Keynote Description
United, We Can Solve This

Tia will share an inspirational story of hope, sharing the ways that conservation and addressing climate change can bridge the divides in our communities, our country and the world.

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Tia Nelson Biography

Tia is internationally recognized as a tireless champion for environmental stewardship and climate change education. She spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy in government relations, as a policy advisor for Latin America, and later as the first director of the Global Climate Change Initiative. For this work, she received the EPA’s Climate Protection Award in 2000. Tia returned home to Wisconsin to serve as Executive Secretary to the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which included a gubernatorial appointment as co‐chair of Wisconsin’s Task Force on Global Warming. She currently advises Outrider Foundation on its climate program and outreach initiatives.

About Outrider

Outrider Foundation is a nonpartisan educational nonprofit committed to making the world safer and more secure. We produce digital media designed to inspire action for a brighter future. We believe in the power of an informed, engaged public.

2021 Breakout Presentations

Morning Session Block
10:30 am – 11:15 am

Afternoon Session Block
1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

LAND: Two Ways to Look at Working Landscapes; Permaculture D
Two Ways to Look at Working Landscapes; Permaculture Design and Holistic Management

People who work the land—from beginning gardeners to full-time farmers and ranchers—are increasingly finding inspiration from these two whole-system approaches: Permaculture, which focuses on design, and Holistic Management, which is organized around decision-making. Judith, who has experience with both models, will walk us through the basics and show how people are beginning to combine the two for a powerful window into allying with ecosystem processes. 

Judith Schwartz

Presenter: Judith Schwartz

Judith D. Schwartz is a Vermont-based journalist who focuses on nature-based solutions to global challenges, a theme she brings to readers and audiences throughout the world. The author of books on soil and water, her most recent title is “The Reindeer Chronicles and Other Inspiring Stories of Working With Nature to Heal the Earth”.

10:30 am - 11:15 am

LAND: Farming Success Stories on the Red Cedar River Basin
Farming Success Stories on the Red Cedar River Basin

Many farmers in the Red Cedar watershed are adopting and adapting soil health principles on their farms.  This session will offer the opportunity to hear how Jim and Logan are managing their farms to increase soil health and profitability.

Jim Kusilek

Presenter: Jim Kusilek
Four Mile Creek Dairy, LLC

Jim and his wife Audrey purchased Four Mile Creek Dairy in 1998 after meeting at UW River Falls and enjoying 15-year careers as commercial bankers. This 2700 animal dairy farm (1500 adult cows, 1200 heifers) is located five miles north of Ridgeland. The operation has grown from 300 cows, 600 acres in 1992 to 2300 acres of owned and rented land. 

The dairy prides itself on exceptional animal and land husbandry practices.  The operation moves nearly 90% of its liquid manure via an underground manure pipeline and above ground hoses. Manure is applied at a maximum depth of 7” using a minimal disturbance application implement.   Corn silage varieties are chosen with a target harvest date of September 10th, which allows a cover crop of winter rye to be planted while the corn harvesting equipment is still in the field. Arguably the dairy has a growing green crop on 90% of its acres year around. Of the 2300 acres, 300 acres of the most highly erodible land is planted to perennial grass, with 800 acres planted to alfalfa, 900 acres in corn silage, and the balance in corn for grain.  Management maintains grass headlands on many row crop fields and invests heavily in the maintenance of grassed field waterways. 

Jim and Audrey are believers in regenerative agriculture as the land management practices they utilize match the regenerative agriculture recommended practices.  Minimum disturbance/no-till farming practices with cover crops, crop diversity, and using animal manure applications for 80% to 90% of their crop nutrient needs.   

Havin Hills

Presenter: Logan Dwyer
Havin Hills Rolling Acres

Logan and Amber Dwyer own and operate Havin Hills Rolling Acres near Chetek, Wisconsin.  Logan and Amber farm about 400 acres of wheat, rye, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, hay, pumpkins, squash, and cover crops to graze. There are 35 cows and numerous heifers and calves, totaling just over 75 animals.  We utilize many different farming techniques on our farm. No-till farming techniques and cover crops play a vital role in our operation. By utilizing no-till techniques we believe it helps us maintain soil structure and preserve organic matter.  Cover crops help hold soil in place, build organic matter, recycle nutrients and provide a great source of grazing. By grazing the cover crops we have seen huge benefits to the soil and yields in the fields.

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm

WATER: Completion of the Three-Year Red Cedar River Basin As
Completion of the Three-Year Red Cedar River Basin Assessment Project for Water Quality Improvement: What Did We Learn?

A project in the Red Cedar River watershed was recently completed focused on three objectives; 1) To study socio-economic conditions in the watershed to better understand the diverse values of clean water; 2) To conduct detailed water quality monitoring and modeling to better understand the water quality dynamics and responses of the Red Cedar River system; and 3) To increase and improve outreach and education about the interactions between land, water and people in the watershed.  This presentation summarizes and discusses the results of this project and how they can be used to help inform approaches to improving conditions in the watershed.

Landon Profaizer

Presenter: Landon Profaizer
Associate Planner
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

Landon Profaizer is an Associate Planner for the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC).  Prior to WCWRPC, he worked as a regional planner for the Bear River Association of Governments based in Logan, Utah and has also worked in both public and private sector positions in Planning, Archaeology, Geographic Information Science (GIS), and Graphic Design.  Mr. Profaizer holds a Master of Science Degree in Bioregional Planning from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Anthropology.

Dan Zerr

Presenter: Dan Zerr
Regional Natural Resources Educator University of Wisconsin – Extension, Eau Claire, WI

For the last 13 years Dan Zerr has been a Regional Natural Resources Educator with University of Wisconsin – Extension, based in Eau Claire.  Previously he worked as an Environmental Scientist for the State of Kansas, as a Research Associate at the University of Missouri, and as an ecologist with the US Geological Survey in North Dakota. He has a BS in biology from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD, and a MS in environmental science from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

10:30 am - 11:15 am

WATER: A Natural History of the Red Cedar River
A Natural History of the Red Cedar River

The Red Cedar River, like all rivers, has a natural history. Over the last 30,000 years (since late in the last Ice Age), its history has been one of both stability and dramatic change, a history that is recorded in the landforms and deposits of river-laid sediment found in its valley and the valleys through which it once flowed. The river we see today, while directly modified by people, is but a snapshot in time. What it will be in the future is largely conditioned on what it has been in the past.

Doug Falkner

Presenter: Doug Falkner
Professor, UW-Eau Claire

I am a professor in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at UWEC, where I’ve been since the Fall of 2000. Before that, I was an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City. And before that, I was a grad student in the Department of Geography, UW-Madison, from where I earned a PhD in 1994. My area of academic specialization is fluvial geomorphology, which simply means I study flowing water (especially rivers) and its land-forming effects. I am particularly interested in how rivers change through time, particularly in response to environmental change, both natural and anthropogenic.

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm

PEOPLE: Making Changes in the Watershed one Student at a Tim
Making Changes in the Watershed one Student at a Time, Jarret Creek

8th-grade earth science students in the School District of Menomonie learn about the scientific process by taking part in a real-life science investigation.  For the past 10+ years, the students and staff at Menomonie Middle School have been monitoring the chemistry, streamflow, and biology of  Jarrett Creek, a small tributary to the Red Cedar River in Menomonie.  In the process, the students learn about watershed dynamics, sources of pollution, excess nutrients and algae bloom, and solutions to watershed pollution.  The presentation will summarize the investigation's findings and will include student thoughts and feelings regarding watershed pollution and solutions.

SDMA Students

SDMA Students

Paul Verdon

Presenter: M. Paul Verdon
Science Instructor

School District of the Menomonie Area

M. Paul Verdon has taught Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Menomonie School District for the past 30 years.  Mr. Verdon has served as K-12 Environmental Education Coordinator for the district and has been involved with coordinating Earth Day events and environmental service projects for more than 15 years.  He has a Bachelor's Degree in Earth Science Education from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.  Mr. Verdon is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys canoeing, fishing, and hunting the Red Cedar River.

10:30 am - 11:15 am

PEOPLE: Eating the Watershed - Building a Collaborative Mark
Eating the Watershed - Building a Collaborative Marketing System to Link Watershed Farms and Consumers

The workshop will explore opportunities for developing a collaborative marketing network with watershed farmers who are using sound conservation and water quality improvement practices. We will look at examples from a number of collaborative marketing strategies, with a local focus on building markets for pasture-based meat production. The goal of the workshop is to begin a discussion about practical steps we can take to initiate a marketing project in our area, including steps to build a partnership between producers and area lake residents.

Matt LeRous

Presenter: Matt LeRoux
Extension Associate

Cornell University

Matt has 20 years’ experience serving farms through Cornell Cooperative Extension, non-profits, and consulting. Specializing in market strategy, Matt works with a diverse mix of produce and livestock farmers and food businesses. Career highlights include developing the Marketing Channel Assessment Tool for produce growers and the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator. He is currently advising farmers in developing the “99 Counties Project” to expand local marketing options across rural Iowa.

Ashly Steinke

Presenter: Ashly Steinke
Owner and Operator
Sedge Wood Farms

Ashly, along with his wife Stacy, and their three boys own and operate Sedge Wood Farms in Chippewa County.  They raise a registered herd of British White cows and direct market grass-fed beef to folks in north-central Wisconsin.  Ashly earned his bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management from UW Stevens Point and a Masters of Science Degree in Wildlife Management from South Dakota State University.  Ashley has worked as a County Conservationist with Taylor County LCD and currently serves on the board of Grassworks.

Moderator: Tom Quinn
Retired Executive Director
Wisconsin Farmers Union-Retired

Tom has deep experience in building a variety of cooperative marketing efforts with food and farm producers. He has received the Founders Award from Organic Valley Cooperative and serves on the board of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative.

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm