July 2019 Train Tracks: Check out our new Train Tracks format. Now featuring Tech Training Updates and more!

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Train Tracks NEW

In this issue:


Welcome to the new and improved Train Tracks newsletter!

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) recognizes the value in connecting learning to performance. Within the community of conservation, these learning experiences can be an important determinant to how we implement our work; ultimately connecting us to the outcomes of our conservation programs.

In an effort to streamline our training related messaging, we’ve made the decision to combine our two training related newsletters; Train Tracks and The Dispatch. Train Tracks will now contain all of the training news and information you want, including updates related to the Technical Training and Certification Program (TTCP). This newsletter will be sent monthly.


The purpose of the newsletter is to:

  • Highlight upcoming BWSR training events
  • Share related partner training opportunities
  • Provide related news, milestones, or deadlines that may be valuable to your work
  • Offer quick skills practice or tips to improve your own work or organization's effectiveness

We'll share with you helpful and timely training opportunities, online training information, success stories, and more. We welcome suggestions and ideas! Have a training event to share? Have a success story you're proud about? Send an email to the contacts at the bottom of this newsletter for any of those purposes.


We hope you like the new and improved Train Tracks!

Two-minute training: teamwork


Do you typically finding yourself working on a team to accomplish work in your natural resources role? Some teams achieve high performance and some do not. In the book “Creating Effective Teams” by Susan A. Wheelan (1999), the author mentions that “research studies on the relationship between internal team processes and productivity have identified characteristics of high performance teams that are associated with productivity." 


These characteristics are:

  • Members are clear about and agree with team goals
  • Tasks are appropriate to team vs individual solution
  • Members are clear about and accept their roles
  • Role assignments match member abilities
  • The leadership style matches the team’s developmental level

If you are leading or are part of a team and wondering how to achieve high performance to reach the intended purpose and goals of the team, take the time to reflect on the characteristics above and see if there are opportunities for team improvement!

To learn more about creating effective teams, check out Susan's "Creating Effective Teams
A Guide for Members and Leaders" guidance document.

Training success story: technical training helps to create long-term healthy soil


For many Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Soil Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff, conservation is much more than a job that pays the bills: it’s a lifelong passion. Conservation professionals attend technical training, seek certification through the Job Approval Authority process, and work directly with landowners on considering and installing conservation practices. The technical training is often provided by the Technical Training & Certification Program (TTCP). The program has offered or organized more than 115 training courses reaching more than 2,000 participants in the past couple of years.

A recent BWSR Snapshot article highlighted Lance Klessig, Winona SWCD Resource Specialist, who has used knowledge gained through TTCP training skills on the job. Check out the full story here: "Technical training builds skills, boosts trust".

Technical Training & Certification Program: updates

The Technical Training and Certification Program is a collaborative effort between BWSR, MACDE, MASWCD and NRCS. The program is designed to efficiently provide training to develop and maintain a highly-trained, technically-skilled workforce of natural resource professionals capable of meeting the conservation delivery needs of Minnesota.

  1. Individual Development Plan (IDP) online tool live this August!
    Want to track past, present, and future training events in one stop, or let our program know what training YOU need? We have a tool for that!
    You asked, we responded; the new new Technical Training IDP online tool will launch mid-August. SWCD and NRCS staff can enter individual training needs, Job Approval Authority (JAA) certifications, past training sessions, and find possible peer-to-peer/on-the-job-training connections, and more. Live WebEx events will be hosted mid-to-late August, and the recorded sessions will be available on the web shortly after. To help users use this tool, a new web page will be created and will house detailed how-to instructions, frequently-asked-questions, tips and suggestions for using the tool. 

  2. Online soil health, water quality, and conservation planning training modules
    Many natural resource professionals have asked for basic Core Competency training, online. 
    Core competencies form the foundation for all technical services.  Core competency training in Soils, Water Quality and Conservation Planning will be provided to all conservation district employees and NRCS field staff. The first online training modules, soil health, is slated to launch this fall.

  3. Online training calendar for technical training & learning opportunities
    The online training calendar provides several opportunities for you.
    BWSR’s updated website has a new training calendar where we provide up to date information and registration links for TTCP sponsored trainings.  Whether you're working on learning more about conservation practices, or working on achieving Job Approval Authority on a specific practice, this up-to-date course listing features training opportunities sponsored by the Technical Training & Certification Program, NRCS, BWSR, the U of M Extension Service, and local SWCDs. Browse the list of training courses today.
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Upcoming training events

These training opportunities help you to meet your individual training needs and are sponsored by BWSR, by the Technical Training and Certification Program, the University of Minnesota, DNR, and many others. Training opportunities fill up fast so register quickly. 

BWSR-sponsored training events:

Technical Training and Certification Program training opportunities:

  1. Featured training: NRCS Conservation Planning Course, July 29-Aug 2, Morris 
    Conservation Planning Course registration link 

    Conservation planning focuses on assisting clients in developing conservation plans that consider all of the resources (soil, water, air, plants, animals, and energy) and human concerns (social and economic). This course supports this direction and is based on current conservation planning policy, the procedures and guidelines in the National Planning Procedures Handbook (NPPH), and the supporting technology and tools to carry out the planning process. Please carefully review the Conservation Planning Course Overview and Schedule document before registering.  Note: this is a 4-day course. Please ensure you are able to attend all 4 days of this course.

  2. Additional technical training courses for you: 
    Electronic Surveying Workshop, July 23-Rochester & August 14-Mankato 
    Surveying registration link (for either workshop)
    These workshops will focus on using Trimble Access with GPS or Total Station instruments in surveying for conservation practices like Grassed Waterways, Water and Sediment Control Basins, and Grade Stabilization Structures. Topics include Template Settings, File Management, Alignments/Roads, Integration of GIS information and Survey Documentation.

Related Partner Training Opportunities:

A lot of other organizations provide a variety of training opportunities ranging from 1/2 day training sessions to semester-long training opportunities, and even combine learning and social activities together and can help you get to know other natural resource professionals around your region or around the state. Please check the Training Calendar to view all of the training opportunities and to register for any of them.

July 2019:

August 2019:

September 2019:


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Online learning & training

Not all training takes place in a classroom. We’ve put together a searchable library of recorded modules, webinars, videos and other resources to help our staff and partners find professional development information on a variety of topics.

You can visit BWSR's Online Learning page to find web-based technical training resources sorted by category.


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Program contacts:

Melissa Wenzel

Technical Training & Certification Program Coordinator (651) 358-5401


Barbara Radke

Statewide Training Coordinator

(507) 844-0442