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Wisconsin NRCS Helps Celebrate 10 Years of Locally Led Watershed Conservation

Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network 10th Anniversary
Publish Date
Brickstead Dairy main barn

Farmers, conservation professionals and project partners gathered to commemorate and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network.

MADISON, Wis., November 30, 2023 – Farmers, conservation professionals and project partners gathered at Brickstead Dairy Farm in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, earlier this month to commemorate and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network (Fox Demo Farms). Funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) program, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Brown and Outagamie County Land and Water Conservation Departments (LCD), Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (NEW Water), the Great Lakes Commission, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, the project was designed to showcase and demonstrate the effectiveness of conservation practices on participating farms located in the Lower Fox River watershed.

Troy Streckenbach - Brown County Executive speaking to the crowd
Troy Streckenbach, Brown County Executive

Since its establishment in 2013 with four original demo farms, the project has flourished, nearly doubling the number of farms added to the network, forging many new partnerships and showcasing a variety of conservation practices over the last 10 years. The celebration highlighted the pivotal role the Fox Demo Farms play in reducing erosion, sedimentation and the amount of phosphorus entering the Great Lakes. 

"We have the largest freshwater estuary in the world. What happens here contributes a small part to the overall impact of that water quality," said Troy Streckenbach, Brown County Executive. 

An outpouring of gratitude was expressed by all who addressed the Fox Demo Farms, emphasizing the positive impact they are making on local, state and national levels. "We're here celebrating the farmers helping us do our work, demonstrating conservation practices, and working together in this partnership to make an impact and grow large-scale adoption of conservation," said Melissa Bartz, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist – Financial Assistance.

There are currently seven demo farm networks in Wisconsin, each comprised of conservation and soil health-minded farmers leading the way in partnership with local agencies and NRCS. Producers and partners work together to address challenges at the ground level, demonstrating solutions that can be implemented on a large scale throughout their region. Nick Peltier, Brown County Land and Water Conservation Department County Conservationist, acknowledged the monumental role producers play, stating, "I really want to recognize the farms that made this whole thing possible. Not for just the conservation practices they’re putting on their land, but also for the promotion they do and the other people they talk to that we don't recognize enough.” Speakers such as Brent Peterson, Fox Demo Farms Manager and Barry Bubolz, NRCS GLRI Field Coordinator, who have been involved with the project since the beginning, underscored the collaborative spirit between project partners and farmers. "I couldn't be prouder of the people we've had the chance to work with. The producers that are out here—I can't say thanks enough to you," said Bubolz, adding, “there are a lot of partners sitting in these chairs here today that played a really important role in making the demonstration farms successful.”  

Based on analyzed satellite imagery, there is visible evidence that the Fox Demo Farms are positively influencing area farmers and their region. Matt Otto, National GLRI Coordinator, commended the farmers, stating, “We are seeing much less fall tillage and much more green cover spreading outward in the fall around your farms, on far more acres than just your operations. That’s exactly what we hoped to see for water quality, for reduced erosion, for soil health, for climate resiliency—multiple benefits from all the great work you’ve done over the past 10 years.”

Whitney cutting the cake
Whitney Prestby - Natural Resource Educator, UW-Madison Division of Extension

Dan Brick, owner and operator of Brickstead Dairy and one of the original farms that began the Fox Demo Farms, reflected on his achievements, highlighting the "Sunset on the Farm" event as one of the accomplishments he is most proud of for how it “opens a lot of eyes.” Sunset on the Farm is a family-friendly event held on the farm every other summer that helps bring visibility to agricultural conservation and showcase the farm's conservation practices to the public. In recent years, the event has offered wagon rides, kids science stations and soil health demonstrations provided through a rainfall simulator. "Neighbors drive by the farm every day and don’t even realize that we no-tilled that field or that there’s cover crops,” remarked Brick.  

The decade-long success of the Fox Demo Farms has not only impacted the Green Bay region, but has also inspired similar initiatives throughout Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region and across the nation. As the project continues to thrive, its legacy extends beyond conservation—educating, inspiring, and fostering a sustainable future for generations to come. Addressing the celebration attendees, Troy Streckenbach summarized, “We're all doing the same work to try to make the community a better place and ultimately protect our resources for future generations. Hopefully, when we’re all sitting in our rocking chairs, we can look back and say we did some meaningful and impactful things for our community and our lands.”

For more information about the Wisconsin Demonstration Farm Networks, please visit:

If you’d like to learn more about the Lower Fox Demonstration Farm Network and those involved in its success over the last 10 years, click here to watch a short video.

Video provided by Whitney Prestby, Natural Resource Educator, University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension.


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Collage of images from the 10-Year Anniversary Celebration for Lower Fox Demo Farms Network
Far left: Assistant State Conservationist for NRCS-WI, Melissa Bartz talking with farmer Dan Brick
Far right: Matt Otto - National GLRI Coordinator

Additional Information

Learn more about Wisconsin's Demonstration Farm Networks.

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