2019 IWLA National Convention

Des Moines, Iowa ● July 16-19, 2019

Speakers and Workshops


Conservation Luncheon Speaker: Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Art Cullen

Art Cullen and his brother, John, publish The Storm Lake Times in their hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa. In 2017, Art won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials about water quality in Iowa.

Art will talk about soil and water – the theme of this year's convention. "Iowa is losing soil 4 to 10 times faster than it can be regenerated, and surface water quality is getting worse, not better," says Art. "We know the answers in sustainable agriculture practices yet lack the political will to implement them." 

Art Cullen_credit St Thomas News

We’ve Got To Stop Kidding Ourselves: How We Use the Land Has Consequences

How we use the land – from agriculture to suburban development – is harming the streams and rivers that provide our drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, and places for outdoor recreation across the nation. Agriculture is not the only source of water pollution, but it’s the one we’ve made the least progress in fixing. This panel will explain why we’re falling short and what that means for the health of our communities.

Professor Neil Hamilton, Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University Law School, is widely recognized for his expertise on how agriculture policy and law directly and indirectly affect water quality and other natural resources.

Dr. Jerry Hatfield is Director of the National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. Hatfield is an expert on how farming practices affect air, water, and soil quality and how boosting soil health can return benefits for our water, land – and farmers’ bottom lines.

Dr. David Cwiertny is Director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa. The Center has conducted long-term studies assessing the presence and health effects of nitrates and other pollutants in drinking water.

Prof Neil Hamilton
Dr. Jerry Hatfield
Dr. David Cwiertny

Change Is Good for Our Water, Health, and Communities

Polluted runoff threatens public health and America’s streams, rivers, and lakes. Change is hard, but we’ve got to do it. This panel will discuss how farmers, landowners, and citizen volunteers are leading the way to improve water quality in communities nationwide.

Seth Watkins is a fourth generation farmer raising beef cattle, crops, and hay on 3,200 acres near Clarinda, Iowa. By focusing on natural resource stewardship, Seth is building a more sustainable – and profitable – farming operation.

Dr. Bonnie McGill is completing a research fellowship at the University of Kansas on how agricultural conservation practices, tile drainage, and climate change affect water quality in Iowa. She is also comparing conservation outcomes in the Upper Mississippi basin with those in the Chesapeake Bay.

Dr. Mary Skopec is Executive Director of the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. She led the volunteer water quality monitoring program for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for 11 years and has decades of experience training and mobilizing volunteer monitors across Iowa and nationwide.

Seth Watkins
Dr. Bonnie McGill_credit MSU
Dr. Mary Scopec

Ding Darling Dishes on Conservation, Politics, and Much More

Tom Milligan brings Jay “Ding” Darling to life in this popular one-man show. Best known for his editorial cartoons in the Des Moines Register and as the driving force behind the launch of the federal Duck Stamp, Ding Darling used humor and art to tell Americans the hard truths about how unchecked pollution, wetland drainage, and market hunting were destroying our natural resources. Join us for a morning of laughs – and some serious lessons that are as relevant today as they were in Ding’s day.
Tom Milligan

Banquet Speaker: Jim Pease

Dr. Jim Pease has paddled 1,800 miles of Iowa rivers, conducting biological and interpretive surveys for the Iowa Water Trails program. He is going to share with us his knowledge of Iowa's waters – and the importance of rivers and streams to communities nationwide.

Jim Pease


Make Facebook Work for Your Chapter
Two-thirds of U.S. adults are using Facebook, and the social media platform now favors local events over national advertising. That means Facebook is a great place to reach out to new audiences for chapter events. We’ll show you how easy it is to post events on your chapter Facebook page, and we’ll lift back the curtain on Facebook advertising to help you target the right audience for your event.

Using the Clean Water Hub To Educate the Public About Water Quality
The League’s new Clean Water Hub is a powerful tool to share Save Our Streams (SOS) water quality information. This workshop is designed for League members who want to put the SOS data they collect to good use  in their communities. League staff will show you how to make the most of data in the Hub, including using it for presentations to policymakers, local residents, and potential partners in your region. You will receive detailed instructions about navigating the Hub, templates that make it easy to share data with the public, and tips for presenting a compelling message about the value of water quality information collected by volunteers.

Making a Good First Impression Matters! Engaging a New Generation in Conservation
League members understand how important it is to connect young adults and families with the outdoors and engage them in conservation. However, we often struggle to communicate with younger audiences – quite literally, we do not speak the same language or approach conservation issues from the same point of view. This workshop will help you understand why nature and the outdoors matter to young adults and families and will provide tips on engaging these audiences more effectively based on their interests and motivations.

Using Bylaws To Improve Effectiveness and Achieve Results
This workshop is for all chapter and division leaders. Board members and officers have a duty to ensure compliance with state and federal laws as well as chapter or division bylaws. All too often, Board members forget the bylaws that govern the organization’s activities, setting them up for potential legal challenges as well as challenges within their own membership. Bylaws can be a valuable tool to ensure success for your chapter or division. This workshop will address what should be included in chapter and division bylaws, how to go about revising bylaws, and how to use bylaws to get ahead of problems before they become a crisis or distraction for your chapter or division.

Workshop topics and descriptions are subject to change.