Matt Ehrhart, director of watershed restoration at Stroud ™Center Water Research Center, took on a new and substantial responsibility last year when his peers elected him president of the Penn State Agricultural Council.
The Council is a diverse group of agricultural interests that advises the university’s College of Agricultural Sciences on its mission of education, research and extension. Since 1961, it has been the primary forum for interaction between the college and its many stakeholders.
Given Stroud Center’s extensive conservation work with Pennsylvania farmers, this is an advantageous opportunity to aid farmers in advancing stewardship of fresh water on a large scale.
The Link Between Clean Water and Crops
Abundant clean water is fundamental to crop and livestock production, just as downstream communities and businesses need clean water. How can institutions like Penn State and Stroud Center best equip farmers to use water wisely and protect the streams flowing through their fields? The council is attempting to address this question and recently re-elected Ehrhart to serve as president in 2016 and guide the problem-solving process.
“The Penn State Agricultural Council is advising the college on opportunities where it can play a greater leadership role in the restoration of Chesapeake Bay, which will directly benefit the region’s streams as well. Helping farmers and agribusinesses get to higher levels of water-quality protection and improving their economic viability will take innovation that’s grounded in solid science and communicated effectively,” said Ehrhart.
Expanding the Master Watershed Steward Program
An active citizenry is also needed throughout Pennsylvania watersheds, large and small. Stroud Center and the Council are providing input to Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences as it develops and expands its new Master Watershed Steward Program.
This program — recently launched in southeastern Pennsylvania — trains volunteers in watershed stewardship based on the Master Gardener model of extensive training and many hours of community service. Ehrhart will bring his experience in water management and engineering to council discussions on this program.
We wish Matt and the Council well and look forward to Stroud Center’s growing collaboration with Penn State and Pennsylvania agriculture.