Feature Stories

Although she’s stepped down from the co-directorship of the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center (WRC), don’t expect Deb Swackhamer to fade away. She remains a University professor of science technology and environmental policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a professor of environmental health sciences with the School of Public Health and leaves a legacy of water protection literally, on the books.

When John Bilotta set sail aboard the Nancy Foster on June 17 as part of NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Teacher at Sea project he was eager to apply his teaching mantra of “see, touch and smell” to his own education. “I spend so much time talking and teaching about the oceans that I was just excited to apply that philosophy to my own learning.”

For fifteen years, DNR MinnAqua supervisor Roland Sigurdson occupied an office cube at the Water Resources Center. A scan of his desk and walls reveals a life in balance. The displays are remarkably focused, reflecting his love of family, friends, fun, education and fishing. His wife Stacey and daughter Natalie beam from multiple photos, there are childhood pictures of Roland and his siblings on the farm, images of Roland the educator before groups of fascinated children, and lots and lots of fish.

In February, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, in partnership with Explore Minnesota, released the “State of Sustainable Tourism in Minnesota: Changes from 2007 to 2013.” The study surveyed 3,550 Minnesota resort and tourism industry managers, owners and operators on sustainable practices ranging from energy efficiency to water conservation.

With one exception—sweeping large areas—there were no significant improvements by operators in the adoption of six sustainable water practices assessed across years.

While there’s been lot of talk about the health and environmental effects of genetically modified crops, there’s been relatively little attention paid to the environmental effects of glyphosate, a companion chemical that’s now the most widely used herbicide in the world.

Known to urban lawn warriors by its commercial name “Roundup,” glyphosate is routinely applied for weed control on an agricultural scale on genetically modified corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets, and cotton in the Midwest and elsewhere.

October 14th 2014 heralded a new tech-savvy day for the annual Minnesota Water Resources Conference, with attendees encouraged to make use of a mobile guidebook app to plan their days, find sessions of interest as well as tweeting out news about the conference as it happened. Exhibitors made their first appearance at the conference, adding a trade show element to the breaks throughout the day.