Touring Wisconsin Dairyland

EDEN’s annual meeting didn’t officially begin until the opening reception Tuesday evening, but those of us who arrived in time to join the October 8th tour got an early taste of what was to come. Cheryl Skjolaas, meeting host, arranged three stops that highlighted two important Wisconsin economic drivers: agriculture and tourism.

Cheryl Skjolaas introduces Justin Pope of Foremost Farms
Cheryl Skjolaas introduces Justin Pope of Foremost Farms.
First stop was Foremost Farms in Baraboo. This is a farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative with nearly 2,000 member-owners located in the upper Midwest. Justin Pope, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability, shared lessons learned from real events and exercises. Processing plants can be affected by contamination, disease outbreak, or physical catastrophes. Like many other businesses, Foremost Farms has developed a continuity of operations plan–and has had to implement it on more than one occasion. A highlight of the presentation was discussion of their enterprise-wide exercise of response to discovery of Foot and Mouth Disease in the state.

We also visited a milk producer, the New Chester Dairy. The  facility has 8,600 cows and operates two rotary parlors, milking approximately 8,000 cows three times a day. All cows are housed on premise in climate-moderated, covered barns and fed feed mix created on site. It was fascinating. While not every state has a large dairy industry, all of us can appreciate the need for biosecurity and farm facility security–poor sanitation, disease, theft, and other problems have a direct impact on the economic welfare of the operation.

EDEN tour group at New Chester Dairy in front of milk transport trucks.
EDEN tour group at New Chester Dairy in front of milk transport trucks.


Meg Galloway, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the 2008 Lake Delton washout and subsequent reparation.
Meg Galloway, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the 2008 Lake Delton washout and subsequent reparation.

Sandwiched between dairy stops was a visit with Meg Galloway (Chief, Dams and Floodplain Management Section, Bureau of Watershed Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources). She met us on Lake Delton‘s earthen dam. As chief, she was responsible for coordinating break reparation after a road embankment washed out on June 8, 2008. Most of the 267-acre lake drained in two hours. Lake Delton was formed in 1927 to attract tourists to the Wisconsin Dells area. It was very successful and has been a key tourism destination ever since. Repairing the 400-foot break, which also took out a section of County Highway A, was a huge task.The repair proceeded hastily because it was tied to the highway reconstruction and was a priority for the area tourism. The lake resort was able to reopen just one year later.

The tone was set. We returned to the University of Wisconsin Pyle Center in time for our opening reception and kickoff to the 2013 EDEN Annual Meeting.

Next week we’ll highlight a few of the meeting sessions.


Disasters and Environment: Science, Preparedness, and Resilience – 13th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment

NIFA shared booth space with EDEN at the 2013 NCSE national conference
NIFA shared booth space with EDEN

Each national conference hosted by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has a specific theme. This year’s theme focused on preparedness and resilience. Held in Washington, DC, it was attended by leaders from the scientific, diplomatic, emergency management, conservation, business, disaster response, educational, and policy communities. It was a big meeting.

You’ll find on the conference web page recorded interviews with plenary panelists, a link to C-SPAN footage of the first day of the conference, and links to some of the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations. The C-SPAN footage features Margareta Walhstrom (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations), Craig Fugate (Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency), and three plenary sessions (Japan 2011: Cascading Disasters; The Gulf Coast: Diverse Converging Issues; and Aridity and Drought and their Consequence).

On day two of the conference, Rick Atterberry, Steve Cain, Pat Skinner and I hosted a breakout workshop—Building Community Resilience and Capacity through Extension Programs and Youth Corps.

Our breakout session was enriched by including Joe Gersen (Public Lands Service Coalition) and Levi Novey (The Corps Network). Their names and the addition of Youth Corps to our session attracted several people we would not have otherwise met. One of the most important themes I saw in our session was that college students and young professionals don’t believe they are taken seriously when it comes to disaster resilience. Their talents and experience are not fully used even though they have much to offer. EDEN should consider how to improve the integration of youth and young professionals with recovery and mitigation efforts.

Hosts of each of the 23 breakout workshops were asked to compile a list of recommendations for new initiatives, partnerships, collaborations, or actions. The synthesized list will be distributed to the Administration, Congress, state and local government, and a myriad of other agencies and groups. The full list of breakout workshop recommendations is available for download.

Which, if any, recommendations do you think EDEN should address?