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Conference on “Stewarding Our Water Future” Hits Amarillo on March 21 & 22 — Interview with Ogallala Commons Director Darryl Birkenfeld

"We need more people taking concrete actions to regenerate our degraded water cycle in ways that respect the limits of our semi-arid environment." - Darryl Birkenfeld (Deputy Director, Ogallala Commons)

Ogallala Commons invites the public to attend the “Stewarding Our Water Future” Conference on Thursday & Friday, March 21 & 22 at Amarillo Area Foundation’s Harrington Center for Philanthropy, located at 919 S. Polk Street in Amarillo, TX. So we decided to check in with the man in charge of this event, Deputy Director of Ogallala Commons, Darryl Birkenfeld. If you missed the interview on High Plains Morning, click the link at the top of this page.

“The purpose of this conference is to shift the public conversation about groundwater depletion toward a more hopeful narrative built on a wide range of innovative solutions,” stated Darryl Birkenfeld, Ogallala Commons Deputy Director, “and to expand the stakeholder coalition focused on improving the water realities we live with and leave for future generations.”

The conference runs from 9:30am – 5:30pm on March 21st, and from 9:30am-3:30pm on March 22nd. The two-day event is presented by Ogallala Commons, with major support provided by Tecovas Foundation, as well as sponsorships from a dozen other organizations.

For conference schedule or to register online, visit this link. Registrants can also make a check for their fee payable to: Ogallala Commons and mail to: Ogallala Commons, 919 Main Street, Springfield, CO 81073.

For additional information, contact Darryl Birkenfeld via email at darryl@ogallalacommons.org, or call 806-945-2255

MORE ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: In addition to more than a dozen sessions featuring 17 speakers, on Thursday afternoon, March 21st, the conference will offer three Field Tours via 56-passenger buses in the Amarillo area, giving attendees outdoor learning opportunities. During the conference, there will also be exhibit booths displaying information during break sessions. On Friday afternoon (March 22nd), attendees will move into small group breakouts to network and plan strategies for follow-up actions.

“As our region experiences more frequent droughts and torrential rains,” notes Birkenfeld, “much more can be done to increase water infiltration in the soils of our agricultural lands and to improve water retention in our cityscapes.” “This conference will equip attendees with information and pathways to renew our degraded water cycle.”

Early Registration is currently underway for the conference: $50 for a single day and $90 for both days. On February 14, Regular Registration will be $60 single day | $100 both days. Those interested can register online at: https://ogallalacommons.org/conference/ or registrants can make a check for their fee payable to Ogallala Commons and mail to: Ogallala Commons, 919 Main Street, Springfield, CO 81073.

For additional information, contact Darryl Birkenfeld (darryl@ogallalacommons.org or 806-945-2255)

MORE ABOUT DARRLY BIRKENFELD: Dr. Darryl L. Birkenfeld works as a community developer, educator and social entrepreneur. He was reared on a diversified family farm with 7 brothers and 4 sisters in Nazareth, Texas. He earned an undergraduate degree in Humanities at College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, NM, where he also studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Seminary formation then took Darryl to the American College in Leuven, Belgium, where he earned a Masters in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of Louvain, and a Special BA in philosophy from the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain.

Birkenfeld was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Amarillo, TX, in 1988, and served for 14 years, ministering in three large Hispanic parishes. He also started the annual Southern Plains Conference, and founded The Promised Land Network as an educational outreach for sustainable agriculture. In 1995, Birkenfeld entered a doctoral program at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, in the field of social ethics. In 2002, he completed a Ph.D. in social ethics from The Graduate Theological Union and the University of California in Berkeley, successfully defending a dissertation on reconstructing a holistic method for U.S. agricultural ethics.

Later in 2002, Darryl left the priesthood, and continued following his calling in rural community development by becoming Director of Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, offering leadership and education to create vibrant Great Plains communities. In recent years, he has worked extensively in rebuilding local and regional food systems, creating public education conferences, water education, and creating a Community Internship program.

Darryl resides in Nazareth, TX, and has been married to Joann Starr since 2003. Together they built a home, Casa La Entereza, using many green construction techniques, such as solar electricity generation, energy efficient construction materials, rainwater collection, and xeric landscaping. They are in the process of turning their 45-acre shortgrass prairie and playa, and Casa La Entereza into a nonprofit education center. Currently, they offer tours to the general public and interested groups.

Jenny Inzerillo joined HPPR in 2015 as the host of High Plains Morning, our live music program that airs weekdays at 9 am to noon CST. Broadcasting from KJJP in beautiful downtown Amarillo, she helps listeners wake up with inspired music from our region and beyond. Tune in for new voices in folk/Americana, deep cuts from your favorite artists, soulful tracks from singer/songwriters across the world, and toe-tapping classics dating as far back as the 1920s. Plus, discover underground greats that just might be your new favorite band.