The Capacity Building Initiative promotes bottom-up agroecology, fostering sustainable innovation at the local level, and sharing progress through Agroecology + Innovation Matters (AIM) initiative publications.

Through a state/federal leveraged funded Capacity Building Initiative between the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) the AIM project was initiated. Collaborating with NRCS field offices, soil and water conservation districts, producers, and landowners across the state, our 40 Conservation Planners and Coordinators aim to enhance soil health, reduce nutrient loss, maintain clean waters, and bolster the advancement of best conservation practices.

Our team of 40 Conservation Planners and Program Coordinators strive to communicate best practices stories and provide educational resources for our community. AIM empowers producers and landowners to explore agroecology and innovative infield and edge of field practices like cover crops, conservation tillage, vegetated buffers, grassed waterways, prairie strips, and constructed wetlands.

RECENT NEWS

  • Farmer reveals his secret to top yields – conservation

    Farmer reveals his secret to top yields – conservation

    Dick Lyons, former Lincoln Land Community College and Illinois State University agriculture professor, had the highest yields in corn and wheat, and fourth highest in soybeans, during a census in 2018. Dick credits using no-till, cover… Read more

  • Becoming an agroecology educator

    Becoming an agroecology educator

    Agroecology educator Connie Kollmeyer of The Conservation Foundation. Suburbanites tend to think of agriculture as something that’s “far away”—vast fields in rural areas.  Or the “urban agriculture” phenomenon—vegetable patches popping up on vacant city lots. “I like… Read more

  • Celebrate Soil Health Week March 4-10 at the Capitol

    Celebrate Soil Health Week March 4-10 at the Capitol

    Celebrate Soil Health Week with the Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Agroecology + Innovation Matters, and Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources March 4-10, 2024 at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.  Soil is the foundation of life. Along… Read more

  • STAR has potential to advance conservation goals

    STAR has potential to advance conservation goals

    By Dr. Michael Woods, CEO, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts Considering unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime federal investments into climate-smart agriculture, 2023 was envisioned as a potential turning point for agricultural conservation efforts across the United… Read more

  • Growing STAR constellation began in Illinois

    Growing STAR constellation began in Illinois

    Steve Stierwalt is one of the farmers who wondered how to encourage neighbors to prevent nutrient runoff from fields and improve soil health, leading to the creation of STAR.Watch videos | Steve Stierwalt | Joe Rothermel | Kris Reynolds In 2017, two… Read more