Kriss Marion of Blanchardville has signed on as communications director for the collaborative Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWIC) project. The initiative will bring together women through a variety of workshops, field days and mentorship opportunities, kicking off with March and April virtual workshops throughout the state. The three-year project is a collaborative effort led by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in partnership with Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), Renewing the Countryside and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), with support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Kriss is uniquely suited to lead this project, given her passion for rural Wisconsin, communications strengths, hands-on conservation experiences on her own farm, and the role she has played in protecting her local watershed,” said WFU Executive Director Julie Keown-Bomar. “She knows how conservation fits into a bigger picture of land preservation and food security, and we’re pleased to have her join the WFU team.”
Marion lives in Lafayette County, where she runs a bed and breakfast on her diversified market farm. She is a county board supervisor with a history of conservation advocacy and leadership, having served several terms on her county Land Conservation Committee and on the WI Land+Water Policy Committee. She is the founder and a board member of Pecatonica Pride Watershed Association, a producer-led watershed protection council. Marion also serves on a Water Action Volunteer (WAV) stream monitoring team that assesses water quality on tributary streams, and she sits on the River Alliance of Wisconsin board of directors.
Marion and her husband Shannon implemented a number of conservation practices on their property – including pollinator habitat restoration and managed grazing of sheep to control invasives in a sedge wetland. They have a hoophouse and irrigation systems paid for through conservation cost-share programs.
“Conservation is contagious. In my experience, you start with one small project and you enjoy the results so much, you become addicted to making your land better – for future generations, but also for your own pleasure,” says Marion, who has partnered on several projects with NRCS, and has more in the works.
Marion also has a long history of involvement in community organizing around rural issues. She was the founding president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter and a founding member of the annual Soil Sisters Tour of southern Wisconsin farms.
“The future of rural communities, and all communities, is dependent on how seriously we take stewardship,” said Marion. “Soil conservation, habitat preservation, wetland restoration, water protection – these concepts aren’t just nice ideas – they’re about food security, economic development, flood mitigation, and survival. I’m excited to connect more women with the inspiration, knowledge and resources to do this important and satisfying work on their land.”