More than 97 percent of land in Nebraska is privately owned, much of that in use for agriculture, putting Nebraska farmers and ranchers on the front lines when it comes to environmental stewardship. That's one of the reasons the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) encourages everyone to turn out for the inaugural "Conservation in Agriculture Day" offerings August 31st at the Nebraska State Fair.
"Nebraska's is the only state fair presenting this kind of conservation program," said Kristen Hassebrook, executive director of AFAN. "Nebraska farmers and ranchers go to great lengths to protect the environment, while raising safe and nutritious food. We are excited that consumers will have an opportunity to engage on this topic at the state fair and speak one-on-one with conservation experts."
Sponsored by Sand County Foundation, which presents the annual Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award, the educational sessions comprise three rounds of "lightning talks." Leading voices in their fields will give five-minute presentations to provide fair-goers the opportunity to hear about the importance that farmers and ranchers in Nebraska place on conservation.
"Over the past 11 years, we have been looking for a way to expand our education and outreach efforts," said Craig Utter, Nebraska coordinator for the Leopold Conservation Award for the Sand County Foundation. The Leopold Award, he said, "is more than an awards program. It's a platform from which to tell the great stories on conservation on private lands across Nebraska."
The lightning talks begin at 9 a.m., in the Raising Nebraska Building. The format will include three rounds of five speakers, each presenting about one of the five conservation topics - water, soil, wildlife, partnership and stewardship - as follows:
1. WATER: Jacob Fritton, The Nature Conservancy
2. SOIL: Aaron Hird, Soil Health Specialist, NE Natural Resources Conservation Service
3. WILDLIFE: Laurel Badura, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
4. PARTNERSHIP: Andy Bishop, Rainwater Joint Venture
5. STEWARDSHIP: Homer Buell, rancher
· First five speakers available to discuss topics one-on-one in the Conversation Pit.
6. WATER: Katie Pekarek, University of Nebraska Extension
7. SOIL: Patrick Peterson, Plum Thicket Farms
8. WILDLIFE: Andy Houser, Pheasants Forever
9. PARTNERSHIP: David Sands, Nebraska Land TRust
10 STEWARDSHIP: Kalkowski family, ranchers
· Speakers 1-5 available to discuss topics one-on-one in Conversation Pit
· Speakers 1-5 present again
· Speakers 6-10 available in Conversation Pit area for one-on-one discussions.