What farmer-led councils and river groups have in common (and how you can help them)

Dec 6, 2023 | Agriculture, Wisconsin Agriculture Agenda

A special request from River Alliance of Wisconsin Board of Directors member Ron Schoepp.

Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching – even when doing the wrong thing is legal. – Aldo Leopold

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.


Mike Tiboris stands next to Ron Schoepp after Ron received a WI Land + Water awardWhy Lodi farmer Ron Schoepp joined the River Alliance Board of Directors

There are two quotes that inspire me. The first is what Aldo Leopold said about ethics that could easily apply to the way we farm in Wisconsin. The second is what Martin Luther King, Jr. said about why we can’t be silent about what matters. 

What matters most to me is sustainable farming, and I’m proud to manage a family farm with healthy land overlooking Lake Wisconsin in Lodi. 

I joined the River Alliance of Wisconsin board this year because Agriculture and Water Policy Director Mike Tiboris asked me to. River Alliance helped the Sauk Soil and Water Improvement Group get established as a nonprofit like it has done for many watershed groups around the state. Since then, SSWIG’s relationship with River Alliance has connected us with more people who want what we want: clean water.


Farmer-led councils are watershed protection organizations

I’m a part of farmer-led councils like SSWIG and the Lake Wisconsin Farmer Watershed Council in Columbia County where we teach how we can farm in a way that protects water. It all starts with sharing ideas. That’s why our education efforts are so important. 

With farming, it’s easy to keep doing things the same way or to do what your neighbor does. It’s harder to take a chance on different conservation practices. We’re out to show that conservation in farming is the right thing to do while also having financial stability and raising a family.

SSWIG hosts field days where we’ve brought farmers, researchers, government agency people, and homeowners together to have face-to-face discussions about what we can do better. We come together locally to help each other reach a common goal. 

What our farmer-led council and River Alliance have in common is the ability to bring people together to share ideas and set our sights on solutions and practices that will protect water. 


River Alliance board members gather at Ron Schoepp's farmComing soon: the Wisconsin Agriculture Agenda

This year, River Alliance of Wisconsin gathered a group of leaders from across the entire food system to give their advice on policy directions that would benefit both farmers and water. I didn’t know what to expect when I was invited to be a part of the discussions, but I’ve learned so much from them. 

The Wisconsin Agriculture Agenda will be a guide for real actions and campaigns we can work on in the near future that have the potential to make a tremendous positive impact on watersheds. 

Everyone wants clean water. Field practices are very important, but we need to go beyond voluntary conservation programs or profit motives. River Alliance of Wisconsin is deeply listening to farmer-led councils and those who are working to make the food system better for our water. I hope you will join us in this vital collaboration with your support.


Two things you can do today:

1. Sign up for River Alliance’s Word on the Stream e-newsletter. You’ll hear more about the Wisconsin Agriculture Agenda next year.

2. Donate to River Alliance before the end of the year. Your tax-deductible gift supports our direct work with watershed groups as well as our big-picture thinking as leaders in protecting Wisconsin’s water.

Thanks for your support.

– Ron Schoepp, River Alliance Board of Directors


This message is made possible by generous donors who believe people have the power to protect and restore water.

Help River Alliance of Wisconsin celebrate our 30th anniversary! Support our work with your contribution today.