In mid-2003, Agricultural Watershed Institute was very new and faced a chicken-and-egg problem common to new nonprofits: How do we attract donations and grants without a track record? How do we build a track record without money?
We lined up John Marlin (Waste Management and Research Center ), Robert Darmody (University of Illinois), and Keith Alexander (City of Decatur, Illinois) as speakers. We reserved the Macon County SWCD conference room, sent out flyers and a news release, and held our first public seminar, Dredged Sediments: A resource out of place. And 50 people came!
We now call such events our Shared Learning Program. They bring together researchers and educators; governmental officials; farmers and rural landowners; environmental advocates; and other watershed stakeholders. We can all learn from each other. Since that first seminar in August 2003, AWI has sponsored these public educational events: