SNR News Story

Posted: 7/21/2022

Nitrate Educational Video Is National Winner

Flow of Nitrates
Katie Pekarek accepts award for the video "Nitrate in Nebraska – The Basics"

The video "Nitrate in Nebraska – The Basics" was the National Winner in the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Communications awards in 2022. The video was created by Katie Pekarek, Extension Educator-Water Quality; Carla McCullough, Associate Extension Educator—Watershed Science; and Troy Gilmore, Associate Professor – Groundwater Hydrologist.

Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and therefore, Nebraska's agricultural industry, state economy and rural prosperity. However, when nitrogen leaves the crop root zone it becomes a liability for groundwater and surface water. More than 85% of Nebraskan’s use groundwater for drinking water and agriculture in the state is heavily dependent on it. For more than 40 years, nitrate concentrations in Nebraska’s groundwater have been increasing, with several areas of the state now above the safe drinking water standard of 10 ppm.

This video was developed as part of an effort, called NebraskaWAVES ( ), to develop watershed science education for water management decision makers in Nebraska. The primary audience is focused on an influential subset of approximately 320 Nebraska citizens who make critical water management decisions: Nebraska Natural Resources District (NRD) Board Members. Nebraska has 23 NRDs established based on watershed boundaries and have statutory responsibilities relating to water quality and quantity.

The video is part of a broader NebraskaWAVES effort to provide NRD Board Members and other water management leaders the knowledge needed to make nitrogen management decision through education abou the role of nitrogen in Nebraska, the current state of nitrate in groundwater, the impacts of high nitrate concentrations, and a preview of how Nebraskan’s are addressing nitrate challenges. This is the first of several videos about nitrate in Nebraska in development.

Released this spring, so far the video has been presented at the Nebraska Association of Natural Resources Districts Water Conference, at local NRD board meetings, through webinars, websites, YouTube, Twitter, and in two University of Nebraska classes. This video will be used in educational outreach of facilitated discussions in the next phases of NebraskaWAVES.