One tall corn stalk, standing a foot above the rest of the corn field behind our home, is peering at the lake.

It is helping to protect from runoff this summer. Its roots grow deep, clinging to the soil.

Closer to the lake are trees, a buffer area striving to be a wildflower garden, an ice ridge area and rocks that also help prevent erosion.

At the public access, the watercraft inspector educates boaters on cleaning and draining their boats to prevent aquatic invasive species. The kiosk contains brightly colored flyers, helping remind guests to clean their gear and equipment, including their water shoes and toys, too.

This scene is repeated across the lakes area. Collectively, we all strive to protect our lakes, one of our greatest area assets.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m., you are invited to learn along with us how conservation farmers protect Minnesota’s water quality. Our COLA program is open to the public and is held at the Northwoods Bank community room, 1200 East First Street, Park Rapids. The lower level room is handicap accessible. Arrive early at 5:30 p.m. for refreshments and conversation.

We’ll learn how farmers are making important decisions to protect Minnesota’s water quality, as well as conserve soil, because they know their families and their farming operations rely on these natural resources. Many decisions that farmers make, which are good for the water and soil, also aid the farmers in their profitability.

The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) assists conservation-minded producers in their conservation efforts and gives these farmers recognition for their excellent stewardship of Minnesota’s natural resources. We’ll learn from three presenters.

Andy Dombeck farms a few miles west of Wadena, where he produces corn, soybeans and a variety of other crops. Dombeck’s farm is a water-quality certified farm.

Andrew Schock’s farming operation is in the Wadena and Staples area, which is also where his Dad, Dale Schock, farms. Their farming operations are water-quality certified.

Both Dombeck and Schock carefully manage their fertilizer applications as well as their applications of products that control weeds and insects. They each farm in a manner that leaves high levels of crop residue (stalks, stubble) on the soil surface, which protects the soil from erosion.

Both have planted cover crops to improve soil health and have also participated in the Irrigation Scheduling Program through their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD).

John Lahn is a MAWQCP area certification specialist. He assists farmers, like Dombeck and Schock, with the certification process and covers Hubbard County, too. Prior to taking this position, Lahn worked many years for the USDA-NRCS in northwest Iowa and also did independent crop consulting and soil sampling.

Learn along with us as they share how that tall corn stalk helps protect our water quality.

Members of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations write a monthly column in the Enterprise addressing water issues in the region.