We All Want Clean Water

The “We All Want Clean Water” podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

About us:

Silvia Secchi is a Professor in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences at the University of Iowa.

Chris Jones is a Research Engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa.

This two-section essay (each of us communicating our own perspectives) outlines some of our thoughts on Iowa water quality within the context of production agriculture, and why we are beginning a regular podcast on this topic.

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America Needs Farmers? Farmers need Iowans, too

Dan Piller: The Iowa Farm Bureau might want to start thinking of city folks as partners, rather than supplicants, before it is too late.

A big winner at the October 9 Iowa-Penn State football game in Iowa City, besides the Hawkeye team and its fans, was the Iowa Farm Bureau, which used the game for its annual “America Needs Farmers” (ANF) celebration.

The late, legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry created ANF during the 1980s as a way to use his successful teams to remind Iowans of the struggles of agriculture, which was undergoing a severe downturn.

The 1980s farm crisis eventually ended, and by the 2000s Iowa farmers saw record yields, profits, and land prices. But ANF has lived on, even as farmers are enjoying one of their best years in recent history.

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A story of hope and the Leopold Center's first leader


Paul W. Johnson passed away in February 2021. His family and Dennis Keeney gave permission to share the text of the forward he wrote for Keeney’s 2015 book The Keeney Place: Life in the Heartland.

In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Act. It offered states 30,000 acres of land for each of their Senators and Representatives. The land was to be sold and its proceeds used to establish colleges in each state to provide higher education for the “industrial classes.” These institutions became known as “land-grant colleges,” and today every state in the Union has at least one land-grant university. In 1887 the Hatch Act added research, and in 1914 the Smith-Lever Act added an extension component. Today, land-grant universities, with their education, extension, and research components can be credited with one of the most revolutionary changes in the status of humanity that our world has ever witnessed.

What does this have to do with The Keeney Place: A Life in the Heartland? Everything.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Bloody Run blooms again

Kenny Slocum is the naturalist and natural resource manager for the Clayton County Conservation Board. -promoted by Laura Belin

Bloody Run County Park already had a lot going for it when I began working for the Clayton County Conservation Board in 2015. The unassuming 135-acre park outside of Marquette, Iowa has held a special place in the hearts of trout fishermen for decades.

Bloody Run Creek, for which the park is named, is one of Iowa’s few official Outstanding Waters, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources designation reserved for water bodies with exceptionally high quality. The name conjures up evocative imagery of battles won and lost in ages past. Indeed, local folklore offers an array of colorful etymologies and, fact-based or not, they speak to the rugged valley’s longstanding appreciation and respect from the people who know it best.

Unfortunately, it is now ground zero for a modern battle between industrial agriculture and environmentalists.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Speaking for the prairie

Tommy Hexter ‘21 and Jacy Highbarger ‘22 wrote this post. The authors are co-founders of Grinnell College’s chapter of Herbicide-Free Campus; Poweshiek Soil and Water Commissioner (former), and student members of Too Much Grass student-initiative at Grinnell College.

In the spring of 2021, a group of excited Grinnell College students, along with faculty and staff, acted on a student initiative called “Too Much Grass” and came together to create a 5,200 square foot prairie in the most prominent location on campus, Mac Field.

In collaboration with the College Center for Prairie Studies and the recently-founded Herbicide-Free Grinnell, chapter of the larger organization Herbicide-Free Campus, Too Much Grass aims to remove unnecessary lawn areas on campus and plant prairie seeds in their place. The hope is to create a place where future Grinnellians for generations to come will loaf through the planting and ponder the meaning of these deep perennial roots in Iowa soil.

In just three months, this project has already sparked interest in another planting on campus scheduled for September.  

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Chet Culver to return to federal board

President Joe Biden appointed former Iowa Governor Chet Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation’s board of directors this week. Assuming Culver is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it will be his second term on the Farmer Mac board. President Barack Obama named Culver to the board in 2011, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote in March 2012. President Donald Trump removed Culver from the position in December 2019, replacing him with LaJuana Wilcher, the current board chair.

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