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Driftless Area Initiative Earth Day Celebration

                                                                         News Feature                                                           4/25/2011

Driftless Area Initiative Earth Day Celebration

The Driftless Area Initiative (DAI) in cooperation with numerous other conservation organizations held an Earth Day celebration at Cascade Meadows and Environmental Science Center in Rochester, Minnesota on April 21, 2011. The DAI is a four state effort that unites organizations, communities and individuals from parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The rugged hills and steep topography of the driftless area drain to priority streams and rivers before emptying into the upper Mississippi River.

L-R Don Baloun, State Conservationist, Minnesota; former NRCS Chief, Paul Johnson, and Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist, Wisconsin.This Earth Day event was the 5th gathering of the DAI since 2007. William Hunt, former State Conservationist for NRCS in Minnesota initiated this Earth Day celebration idea. Don Baloun, State Conservationist for Minnesota served as the event’s moderator. He said that this event was a great opportunity to gather and share common interests for conservation.

The speakers at this program shared their passion for the environment and reminded the audience that they too could make a difference on the land.

Dr. Kathryn Kelly, MASWCD President said she learned from her passion that passion toward a specific interest is a good thing. “We need to do what we can to save the soil,” said Kelly.

Congressman Tim Walz shared his viewpoints regarding Earth Day. Walz pointed out that challenges we face provide us with good opportunities. “Energy issues continue to impact everyone, energy conservation can translate into economic growth and wealth,” said Walz.

Former NRCS Chief Paul Johnson gave the keynote address. Johnson reminisced about how he came to be understanding and passionate toward conservation. He said that almost everything in this country was started by a handful of people. “Care and focus made all the difference,” said Johnson.

He also pointed out that we all have a lot to be thankful for. “If we did not have the soil conservation movement of the 1039’s, we would not be living here today. We still have more to do, we still have serious problems with the soil,” said Johnson.

A special thank you to the DAI Earth Day Planning team that planned this event: Jeff Koster, Joanie Kanable, John Nicholson and Julie MacSwain, MN NRCS employees; John Walsh, DAI Executive Director and Steffan Theimer and Luke Lunde, Cascade Meadows.

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