Steve Davis, OH ACES Enrollee

Steve Davis, OH ACES Enrollee

On September 24, 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called to order the Mayors’ Drinking Water Summit to address related issues regarding the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.  These combined bodies of water serve as the drinking water source for over 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada.  The summit included approximately 40 participants from both countries and was held in response to the August crisis-closure of Toledo, Ohio’s drinking water system due to a massive algal bloom.  As a result of this gathering, the participating Mayors are developing program and policy recommendations for the U.S. and Canadian governments to mitigate harmful algal blooms and protect these irreplaceable natural resources from further damage.

Steve Davis, an Ohio ACES Program participant was invited by David Ullrich, Executive Director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, to be one of five technical presenters and one of only two who had an agricultural background.  Mr. Ullrich specifically cited Steve’s “knowledge about best management practices for agriculture and . . . an appreciation for and understanding of the agricultural community.”  Steve informed the group about the work the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are doing in the Maumee Watersheds and shared information on the effectiveness of Best (conservation) Management Practices toward reducing nutrient loadings and improving water quality.

In his 35-year soil and water career with NRCS, Steve began as an entry level field employee and worked his way through various positions up to state watershed responsibilities.   He was in the forefront of conservation tillage and no-till, the first Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction Initiative, the National USDA Conservation Buffer Initiative, and NRCS Rapid Watershed Assessments.  Now he finds himself in the middle of the crisis regarding the explosion of harmful algal blooms.

Steve routinely works with scientists from numerous universities and agencies that are actively researching phosphorus runoff issues and developing solutions to reduce algal blooms in Lake Erie.  He also works with agency program managers and interacts with Congressional staffs to help them understand the science behind the problems and solutions and to help devise effective implementation of conservation programs.  Steve engages with the public and media to explain in laymen’s language the scientific findings about the problems and how conservation practices can help solve those issues.

What Steve enjoys most about his ACES assignment is “the challenge of the work and the opportunity to interact with some very smart people in the research and academic community.  I enjoy the flexibility in working a part-time schedule and being able to stay actively involved.  Mostly I enjoy feeling that I am contributing.”

When time allows, Steve likes fishing from his boat on Lake Erie, playing with some of his five grandchildren and rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes.  He just finished co-authoring a 465-page memoir of the renowned Ohio State Assistant Football Coach, Bill Myles, titled Myles Traveled: Stories of My American Journey.  The book (www.mylestraveled.com) traces his rise from a two-room school for blacks in segregated times to his coaching in one of the pinnacles of college football, Ohio Stadium.