The Experience

Consider this your invitation to join in a unique experience that will allow you to change and grow as a leader and progress in your knowledge of water and natural resource issues in Nebraska. The Academy is structured around two tracks—leadership and resources.

Leadership Track

University of Nebraska tenured professors and other experts have joined the academy to share proven concepts and practical applications of leadership principals. The academy’s leadership track is about conflict management, skills assessment, personal empowerment and motivation.

The Nebraska State Irrigation Association’s Water Leaders Academy meets to discuss issues of today.

What excites you about the Water Leaders Academy? (Video) 

Participant work together to examine and evaluate information.

Participants work in groups to develop a project using their problem-solving and leadership skills.







Resources Track

In Nebraska, it is hard to overstate the importance of water. We have abundant aquifers, but still there are disputes about how to use this precious resource. At each academy session, expert presenters explain the history of water compacts, decrees and regulations. Sessions focus on water policy, research and the economic value of our most important river basins. The goal is to gain a basic understanding of Nebraska’s natural resources and water issues. This track includes classroom presentations as well as field trips at each session.

A year-long program to learn first-rate leadership and about the vital role of rivers, streams and aquifers in Nebraska. (Video)

UNL geologist Dr. Matt Joekel conducts and informal experiment during a canoe trip on the Niobrara.


Academy presenters are experts in their fields and come from varied background: academics, policy makers, regulators, political leaders, natural resource districts, federal officials and more.

Field Trips

A float trip on the Niobrara, tours of water projects in the Panhandle urban water projects in Omaha are only a sample of the hands-on experiences that the academy offers.

Team Projects

As part of a group, each participant is required to produce a final program about a natural resource related topic developed from their academy experience. The academy experience provides insights in working together, examining important issues and developing innovative approach to problem solving.


Sessions are held every two months at various locations across the state beginning on Thursday morning and end on Friday by 3 p.m.

Class members are required to…

  • Commit to attend six 1 ½ day sessions.
  • Provide his or her own transportation to sessions that take place in various locations across the state. Car pooling is encouraged. All transportation, meals and accommodations that are part of the academy experience are covered by tuition.

Class size varies from 15 to 25 and includes women and men from varying backgrounds.

The Academy seeks early to mid-career professionals involved in:

  • water resources management
  • production agriculture
  • the law
  • the media
  • agribusiness
  • fisheries and wildlife
  • education
  • recreation and environmental sciences

When to apply…

Applications can be accepted at any time. Deadline for submission is December 1. Applicants are notified of their acceptance by December 15. Classes start in January of the following year. Applications can be made on line or through the US Mail. Go to “Apply” for more details.

“I liked the diversity of topics and speakers. It’s not just a series of classroom lectures on water law and use; there were leadership, communication and conflict resolution topics with good interaction and class participation throughout.”

Rick Eades

Class I, Water Resources Specialist Lincoln