The Soil and Water Conservation Society annual conference, held in late July, brings together hundreds of conservation professionals to attend workshops and lectures, present research, network, and experience field tours in locations around the United States and Canada. We maintain an archive of abstract books, conference programs, and presentation slides. For information about past conferences that are not archived online, please email

Elevating Conservation to New Heights

77th SWCS International Annual Conference
July 31-August 3, 2022
Hilton Denver City Center
Denver, Colorado

This year’s conference theme, “Elevating Conservation to New Heights,” embraces the mountainous region of the location while emphasizing the shared vision held by conservationists around the world to scale our work, repair ecosystems, and create resilient working lands.

This year’s event is situated on the Front Range, where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains and where one can see the vast impacts of a changing climate and increased populations on our natural resources. A central concern for much of this semiarid to arid region is water, most often the lack of water. The west depends upon irrigation for crop production, which depletes both surface water and groundwater supplies. Additionally, competition between urban and agricultural land and water uses has increased as populations and cities grow. Other challenges pressing to the region include wind erosion, high soil salinity, rangeland soil health, brush control, and wildfire impacts. Here, the possibilities for partnerships to elevate soil health and water conservation are not only endless, but necessary. Regional sessions and tours will provide a space to share the latest projects and tools addressing impacts of a changing climate and increased populations on the natural resources of the area.

In addition to working lands, many of the nation’s most awe-inspiring parks and protected areas are present in the region, and the natural beauty serves as a reminder of the value of the conservationists' work. Colorado is a wild and scenic state where residents and visitors alike immerse themselves in the natural resources our professionals labor daily to improve and protect.

After two years of virtual conferences, this stunning conference location offers an opportunity for the global conservation community to come together and collectively share solutions, combat obstacles, and accelerate conservation efforts. This year’s conference will feature the latest ideas, technologies, and practices and foster a dialogue around their scaling. Through workshops, sessions, symposia, tours, exhibits, and demonstrations, cutting-edge research and practice developments in soil health, water quality, and resource management will be shared.

Driven by the conservation community's need to be up-to-date on agriculture industry trends, economies, and technology, this conference will invite and engage farmers, agribusiness, and commodity groups. Current policies, practices, and research about climate change and climate-smart agriculture will be shared as well.

Final Program

One World, Connected through Conservation

76th International Annual Conference
July 26-28, 2021
Virtual Event

The 76th Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) International Annual Conference, held virtually, July 26-28, 2021, provided the opportunity for attendees around the world to share their conservation stories and bring natural resource management solutions from far and wide into their homes and offices. The virtual event format allowed access and inclusivity on a broad scale, and our interactive conference platform provided a robust conference experience with live sessions, Q&A, networking, a virtual exhibit hall, and many other ways to learn, connect, and engage. 

This year’s conference theme, “One World, Connected through Conservation,” encompasses the shared resources on which all life depends while recognizing local-level issues and management. No matter the landscape, collective efforts are required to protect and sustain our soil and water resources. While conservation challenges brought on by universal pressures like climate change may produce wide-ranging effects in our respective corners of the globe, there is commonality in the solutions—collaborations that span sectors and disciplines, practices informed by science, cutting-edge technology, a new era of policy, and, at the center of all this, the individuals working tirelessly to protect and improve our natural resources. 

Professionals advancing conservation solutions through research and practice in public and private sectors presented their work, including the latest in soil health, water resources, conservation management, climate change adaptation, social science, and more. Workshops, symposia sessions, and posters showcased ideas, technologies, and practices, and foster a dialogue around their adoption. Projects presented included work at the watershed, national, and international scales, emphasizing the global impact of local efforts. Scientists and practitioners applied the virtual skills they have obtained over the last year by taking attendees into the field and lab through live or prerecorded demonstrations and tours. Recognizing that our goals for the world’s natural resources cannot be realized without justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, conservationists will share insights and advice on projects and partnerships that seek diverse participation and take meaningful action toward creating and supporting systems that value and serve people equitably. 

In addition to science and practice presentations, the event provided a range of opportunities for personal and professional development. Sessions addressed effective work habits, partnerships, and communication tools, and the conference offered certified education credits (CEUs). 

Final Program

Expanding Horizons: Where Conservation Meets Innovation

75th International Annual Conference
July 27-29, 2020
Virtual Event

This year’s conference theme, “Expanding Horizons: Where Conservation Meets Innovation,” evokes images of the expansive views of the region and the deep and varied soil horizons that make Iowa’s farmland some of the most productive in the world. This year’s theme also speaks to the broadening of individual perceptions and experiences as attendees discover new concepts, partners, and advancements in soil and water research.

The conference featured the latest ideas, technologies, and practices and foster a dialogue around their adoption. Through virtual workshops, sessions, symposia, exhibits, and galleries, cutting-edge research and practice developments in soil health, water quality, and resource management were shared. Scientists and practitioners presented their work at the field, farm, and watershed scale across an array of private and public arenas. Researchers and conservationists teamed up with farmers to share lessons learned and the environmental outcomes of on-farm trials, monitoring, and state-of-the-art precision agricultural tools. Applications of social theories and examples of successful outreach and education enabled attendees to identify ways to scale up grassroots efforts. Participants also heard about policy and economic developments that build a framework to increase conservation adoption and support future generations.

The Soil and Water Conservation Society’s 75th International Annual Conference assembled a diverse, multigenerational conservation community of researchers, practitioners, industry leaders, farmers, and students from around the world. 

Final Program

Bridging the Divide: Uniting Rural and Urban Landscapes for Conservation

74th International Annual Conference
July 28-31, 2019
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In the northeastern United States, food production has taken different forms over time, and management of soil and water has been accelerated by agricultural and urban dynamics. This rich and varied land use history makes the region a prime location to unite conservation experts to preserve our natural resources.

The 74th SWCS International Annual Conference location is the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, just feet from the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio. The hotel sits at the pinnacle of the Golden Triangle, the city’s revitalized urban center. Whether you’re exploring Point Park, a 36 acre state park that pays homage to the many generations of communities that have occupied the site; seeing one of the nation’s first green buildings; or learning about partnerships to scale up conservation on the local level and beyond, the city of Pittsburgh is a perfect setting for new conservation connections and perspectives.

Home to three rivers and 446 bridges, Pittsburgh is known as “The City of Bridges.” These bridges play an important role in connecting the valleys, hillsides, river plains, and communities. This city of linkages sets the stage for connections around eight general conservation research and practice topics. Specialty tracks will foster dialogue surrounding unique partnerships in watershed planning and implementation, engagement of the private sector in conservation, and the challenges of adapting the landscape to a changing climate.

Paths to meet current soil and water conservation needs look very different from the solutions that galvanized action after the Dust Bowl, and they will continue to evolve. Come to Pittsburgh and be part of that shared conservation future

The 2019 conference brought together more than 415 conservationists, representing 7 countries and 46 states. The conference program included 125 oral presentations and symposia and 60 poster presentations.

Final Program
Presentation Slides

Culture, Climate, and Conservation

73rd International Annual Conference
July 29 - August 1, 2018
Albuquerque, New Mexico

New Mexico’s rich culture and diverse landscape made it the prime location to celebrate the 73rd SWCS International Annual Conference theme, Culture, Climate, and Conservation. The research shared and stories told from across the nation fit right into this location where conservation spans resource concerns, cultures, and landscapes. In addition to learning about some of the management challenges and partnership opportunities that face ecosystems worldwide, participants experienced the vibrant culture of New Mexico through Local Forum and Flavor event, witnessed conservation efforts first-hand through tours, and heard from leading speakers in the conservation field. Specialty tracks focused on rangeland and forest restoration as well as the use of technology to advance conservation were offered at this year’s conference. Collectively, all of these areas of focus provided a forum for conservation professionals from around the world to come together to discuss successes and challenges, combat shared obstacles, and accelerate conservation efforts.

The 2018 conference brought together more than 430 conservationists, representing 4 countries and 49 states. The conference program included 115 oral presentations and symposia and 71 poster presentations.

Final Program
Presentation Slides

Conservation Connections: Creating Pathways to Sustainability

Conservation Connections, July 30 - August 2, 2017

72nd International Annual Conference
July 30 - August 2, 2017
Madison, Wisconsin

The 72nd International Annual Conference focused on an important trait that sets the SWCS annual conference apart from others: the number of disciplines who come together to share information, network, and form connections to forge best practices in soil and water conservation. The conference provided a forum for interdisciplinary discussions that are essential to the success of conservation, a field that depends upon understanding relationships and interconnectedness.

The 2017 conference had the Society’s largest attendance since 2004 with over 500 participants making conservation connections. The conference program included over 150 oral presentations and symposia, in addition to 70 poster presentations. Specialty topics included a focus on Field to Watershed: Connecting Local Scale Influence with Larger Scale Significance, Benefits and Challenges of Public and Private Partnerships, and Extreme Weather and Its Impact on Conservation. 

Final Program
Presentation Slides

Managing Great River Landscapes

MGRL Conference Logo

71st International Annual Conference
July 24 - 27, 2016
Louisville, Kentucky

The 2016 conference provided a forum for exploring and promoting science-based knowledge about management practices that protect land and river ecologies and make them productive and more resilient. The conference included opportunities to showcase conservation efforts in both the uplands and bottomlands of great rivers and their tributaries, including nutrient management, erosion and sediment control, nonpoint source pollution and watershed policy, flood and drought management, and other issues influencing the health and functionality of our soil and water. 

Final Program
Presentation Slides

Coming Home to Conservation: Putting Science into Practice

70th annual Soil and Water Conservation Society Conference

70th International Annual Conference 
July 26 - 29, 2015
Greensboro, North Carolina

The 2015 conference provided a forum to celebrate past conservation accomplishments as well as share and promote science-based knowledge on critical, current issues facing soil, water, and environmental sustainability.

The conference was held in North Carolina, the home state of Hugh Hammond Bennett, which provided a unique combination of conservation history and southern hospitality. Already an active soil scientist in the years prior to the Dust Bowl, Bennett witnessed first-hand the social and environmental devastation of significant erosion. His nation called on him to help stem the tide of its worst environmental disaster by implementing soil saving practices in the Great Plains and beyond. Hugh Hammond Bennett later helped found the Soil and Water Conservation Society and led the charge of identifying and applying sound science in pursuit of conserving soil and water resources. With the same mission today, we face even greater natural resource challenges in the midst of climate change and increasing populations. The path paved by Bennett’s efforts and example gives us a solid foundation, and we must strive to continually improve the use and preservation of resources as we build a sustainable future.

Final Program

Making Waves in Conservation: Our Life on Land and Its Impact on Water

Making Waves on Water Conservation Conference

69th International Annual Conference
July 27 - 30, 2014
Lombard, Illinois

From the Great Lakes to the coast, our use of the land impacts major bodies of water. Whether it be the large freshwater lakes of the United States and Canada, the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, or the other lakes, seas, and oceans of the world, these terminal waters tell the story of what is happening upstream. At the 69th SWCS Annual Conference, we considered challenges and progress in nutrient management, erosion and sediment control, nonpoint source and watershed policy, and other issues influencing the health and productivity of our soils and large water bodies. Conservationists gathered to reflect upon decades of hard work and to acknowledge the progress of land managers, farmers, advisors, and scientists.

Final Program

Resilient Landscapes: Planning for Flood, Drought, and Fire

Resilient Landscapes Conference Logo

68th International Annual Conference 
July 21 - 24, 2013
Reno, Nevada 

The 2013 conference focused on the science and art of natural resource conservation and environmental management in agroecosystems. Attendees listened to speakers' accounts of knowledge gained from management of parks, wildlife refuges, and other land uses that contribute to earth's ability to provide the necessary complement of ecosystem services. Special topics included drought, invasive plant species, water quality education (in partnership with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture), and grazing lands Conservation Effects Assessment Projects (in partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service).

Final Program

Choosing Conservation: Considering Ecology, Economics, and Ethics

Choosing Conservation Conference Logo

67th International Annual Conference
July 22 - 25, 2012
Fort Worth, Texas

Both Hugh Hammond Bennett and Aldo Leopold recognized that effective conservation decisionmaking takes many tools. A shovel, a pen, and a solid handshake were used skillfully by both men to help land managers and lawmakers make sustainable choices for working lands. Leopold was particularly vocal on the need to reunite economics with ecology and ethics. He recognized that each field of inquiry strengthens the study of natural resources conservation and its application on the back forty. Recent movements toward transdisciplinary research and systems approaches mirror Leopold’s
thinking. The 125th anniversary year of Leopold’s birth provided us with an opportunity to take cues from Leopold and Bennett as we consider conservation choices today.

Final Program