With the topic “Leading shared solutions on water sustainability” setting the stage, a panel of local experts offered their perspectives at the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council annual conference Nov. 12 in Minnepolis. In the keynote address, Michael Reuter (photo) of the Nature Conservancy provided the national perspective of America’s Watershed Initiative. Its website states that it’s “a collaboration working with hundreds of business, government, academic, and civic organizations to find solutions for the challenges of managing the Mississippi River and the more than 250 rivers that flow into it.”Reuter moderated the panel, which addressed progress and opportunities here. Adam Birr, director of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said interest in sustainability is increasing in the ag community. There is sufficient science and technology to scale up efforts, while still addressing variables. John Linc Stine, MPCA commissioner, said most watersheds have been assessed, and that we need to trust the data and collaborate on solutions. Reuter said the common goals and technology generate a shared optimism, which now must focus on “the social side of things.”In the lunch keynote address, Christine Fruechette, CEO of Colle+McVoy, presented findings of a survey on “Agriculture, millennials, and sustainability.” The survey showed that millennials (people born in the 1980s and 1990s) in agriculture rank high on sustainability beliefs and values.In other conference news, AgStar Financial Services awarded a $30,000 grant to Agri-Growth and AGree for the Minnesota Working Lands Conservation Partnership (MWLCP). Joe Martin, MWLCP project director, said “We are grateful for this investment by AgStar, as we launch this project to develop grassroots solutions to water quality issues at a local level, and examine sustainability and on-farm profitability.” AGree is an initiative to bring together diverse groups on agriculture issues, and is supported by leading foundations.