The 31st Annual Rural Transit Assistance Center (RTAC) Conference will be March 3-4, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Northfield Center in Springfield. The conference will include presentations from the Illinois Department on Aging, On Your Mark Transportation, IDOT, Kimley-Horn and Associates Engineering and Planning Consultants, and other Illinois public transit managers. Topics include driver hiring and retention, social isolation and how rural public transit provides a lifeline and relief, transit asset management for FY20, training for new and experienced managers, news and guidelines pertaining to FY2021 Section 5311 and DOAP applications. To register, call RTAC toll-free at 800-526-9943, e-mail MR-Kreps@wiu.edu or register online. Registration is free, but pre-registration is required. Lunch is on your own. To reserve lodging, call 217- 523-7900 by February 17 and ask for the Rural Transit Assistance block.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Andrea Basche and a research partner found that planting cover crops and perennials could significantly improve the ability of soil to soak up heavy rains. “If water doesn’t get into the soil, if it doesn’t infiltrate, then it’s going to run off and contribute to erosion or water pollution,” said Basche, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture. And as climate change brings about increased droughts and heavy rainfall, these practices could help farmers stabilize their practices. “We want to try to be proactive about how we can help producers and help our soils and landscapes respond better when we have more of these severe events,” she said. The reason that cover crops and perennials are so effective is that they break through compacted layers of soil, said Aaron Hird, Nebraska’s soil health specialist at the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Cover crops are those that are planted during the off season in order to retain the benefits of having a plant in the ground during that time. Perennial plants are those that live for multiple years, so even during the off season they leave living roots in the ground. The research suggests that the continuous presence of root systems may open up more ways for water to infiltrate, Basche said.
Registration is open for the Small Farms Winter Webinar Series! University of Illinois Extension presents a weekly educational series for the small farm community to provide practical knowledge. These online presentations will give small farm producers a look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing enable operations to improve profitability and sustainability. The complete list of topics and speakers is on the website. Webinars are from noon -1:00 pm on Thursdays and are free.
Illinois Extension will offer State and Federal Legislative Updates in January 2020. These Local Government Education webinars will feature legislative experts from the Illinois Association of County Board Members and the National Association of Counties. The Illinois State Legislative Update will air at Noon CST on Thursday, January 23, 2020. The Federal Legislative Update will air at Noon CST on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Experts will discuss recent and potential changes in legislation that will affect Illinois governments. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and discuss how to plan for expected changes. Please register to attend one or both of the webinars, and receive information from each presentation.
From Molly Hammond, Chair, Rural Partners Board of Directors:
Please join us on Wednesday, February 26 at 12:30 for the Annual Meeting of Illinois Rural Partners. The meeting will be held as part of the Rural Community & Economic Development Conference at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Freeport C.