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Rachel Myslivy

Water + Energy Progress Past and Future

2 years ago | Dec 08, 2015
By: Rachel Myslivy, Program Director

As the cool weather settles in, I have been reflecting on the events of the past year.  For me, 2015 included learning about some amazing Kansans who are doing great things to save water and energy in agriculture.  The Water + Energy Progress initiative has been the most rewarding project I've ever managed.

2015 Water + Energy Progress Award Winners and their families with Governor Brownback.
The Water + Energy Progress Awards spotlight farmers and ranchers who are actively changing the world for the better.  This very successful project featured a total of twenty Kansans with diverse operations located all across the state, from small, local food producers to large-scale ranchers.  Perhaps the best thing about the awards is the focus on the individual farmer or rancher adapting, innovating, failing, and succeeding as he or she worked to become good stewards in a changing world. 

2013 Water + Energy Progress Award Winners with Governor Brownback, USDA Director Patty Clark, and CEP staff.
While the focus was initially water conservation and energy efficiency, it quickly became apparent that water quality, soil health, and renewable energy were critical pieces of the puzzle with far reaching implications.  The practices present homegrown solutions that manage for the extremes and create resilient communities in a changing climate.   Every one of the WEP award winners is reducing greenhouse gases in the Heartland with locally-adapted strategies for success.  

Commodity vs. Community Conservation - Bill Sproul
The case studies (2013 and 2015) presented details on each producer's operations, methods of saving water and energy, and approach to progress.  In 2015, we added video features to reach a broader audience.  The WEP videos and bus tour told the good stories of Kansas ag while also connecting folks across the state.

By all accounts, the Water + Energy Progress Awards presented positive, homegrown solutions from men and women doing their best to make Kansas great.  I think Governor Brownback said it best at the 2015 awards ceremony: 
"We've got to be able to produce more using less water, less energy, less inputs. We've got to conserve water, and you guys are on the front line doing it."

What does 2016 hold for Water + Energy Progress?
We have big plans!  Another round of awards, more bus tours connecting urban and rural Kansas, workshops, and even a statewide forum focusing on homegrown solutions for water and energy in Kansas!  Wow! ...we just need to find funding to support the project.

Many have asked, "when are you announcing the next awards?" While I have several nominations that look fantastic, the next round is on hold.  Although the project was very successful, we have not yet been able to secure funding for another round.  

But, rest assured!  We are looking high and low to find a pot of gold (or maybe a bag of silver) that will enable us to get started telling the stories of your friends and neighbors in agriculture and the great things they are doing to keep Kansas ag strong and resilient while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Heartland.  

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