Precision conservation conference presenters


Dave White, chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, leads the nation’s largest program to encourage private land owners and managers to protect soil, water and other resources. He leads a staff of 12,000 people and manages of budget of more than $3 billion. He was appointed to the top job in the NRCS in 2009. He began his 32-year career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a conservation aide in Missouri. Later, he served the agency in South Carolina, Montana and Washington, D.C.

David Mulla, Ph.D, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water and Climate, is an internationally recognized researcher and scholar. He leads the university’s Precision Agriculture Center, he was a founding fellow of the university’s Institute on the Environment and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ committee on water quality standards. He and his graduate students have done extensive research on the use of LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – mapping to target best management practices in precision agriculture and precision conservation. He will present an overview of new technologies and applications that aim to put the right conservation practice in the right location at the right time. He earned a doctorate in agronomy from Purdue University, and has been a member of the University of Minnesota faculty since 1995.

Gerald Van Amburg, Ph.D, a retired professor of biology at Concordia College in Moorhead, is president of the Board of Managers for the Buffalo-Red River Watershed, and he has been a member of the board since 1986. He is a citizen member of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, a member the board of the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts, and a past president of River Keepers in Fargo. In 2000, while a faculty member at Concordia, he helped establish and obtain funding for the International Water Institute, formerly the Red River Basin Institute, and was director of one of its two centers.

Mae Davenport, Ph.D, and Paul Nelson. Dr. Davenport is an associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources and the environment in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota. Her research emphasizes community-based, participatory approaches in two primary areas: (1) human beliefs, attitudes and behaviors associated with ecosystem/biotic change; and (2) community capacity for sustainable ecosystem, watershed, and protected area management. She earned a doctorate in Natural Resources Science and Management at the University of Minnesota in 2003. Mr. Nelson has 25 years’ experience in water resource and watershed management. He is Natural Resources Program Manager for Scott County and administrator for the Scott Watershed Management Organization.

Shawn Tracy and Pete Young. Mr. Tracy spent the last five years working as a Restoration Specialist for the Landscape Restoration Program of the 11-County Metro Conservation Districts. He has overseen preparation of nearly 30 of the subwatershed analyses that are the subject of his presentation. Mr. Young, an engineer and specialist in erosion and sediment control, is employed by the Washington Conservation District in Stillwater. His work has included urban and rural/agricultural Best Management Practice designs, site assessments and program administration. Drawing on his experience with the urban subwatershed analyses, he helped Washington Conservation District develop a similar subwatershed assessment methodology to target BMPs in rural/agricultural areas.

Bev Nordby has been district manager for the Mower Soil and Water Conservation District on Minnesota’s southern border since 1999. She also is administrator of the Cedar River Watershed District, serving parts of four counties: Dodge, Freeborn, Mower and Steele. She supervises a staff of six people working to mitigate flooding and reduce soil erosion. She will discuss projects on the Root and Cedar rivers.

Stephanie Johnson Ph.D, and Zach Herrmann. Dr. Johnson is a licensed professional civil engineer employed by Houston Engineering. Her most recent work has concentrated on applying water quality models to compute pollutant loads and developing web-based decision support systems.  She has a particular interest in stakeholder involvement and engaging the public in improving and protecting water quality.  Mr. Herrmann, also employed by Houston Engineering, is a civil engineer with experience in a variety of watershed management issues. He has applied Geographic Information Systems and LiDAR analysis techniques in many settings.


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