Sara Walling

As the Water and Agriculture Program Director for Clean Wisconsin, Sara is responsible for steering the organization’s important work to protect and improve the quality of our state’s lakes, streams and groundwater.  Sara is particularly focused on establishing state policies and programs that will reduce the impacts of Wisconsin’s diverse and productive agricultural industry on our soil and water resources.

For nearly 20 years, Sara has worked at the nexus of agriculture and water quality, applying conservation principles and policies to agricultural systems in the Great Lakes region including direct experience working with farmers, agronomists, NGOs, and county, state and federal agency partners to improve the environmental footprint of farming systems.

Prior to joining Clean Wisconsin, Sara spent nearly 15 years at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection where she held roles as the Administrator of the Agricultural Resource Management Division, Manager of the Nutrient Management and Water Quality Section and Bioenergy and Environmental Policy Advisor to the DATCP Secretary. Sara also served as the first Agriculture Institute Director at UW-Madison’s Division of Extension where she oversaw county agricultural extension agents and education and outreach programs. After leaving state service in 2022, Sara joined the environmental non-profit realm as Senior Agriculture and Restoration Policy Manager for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, where she advocated for stronger environmental protections for the Great Lakes most impaired subwatersheds and partnered with federal agency leaders to increase awareness about the differences among state water protection regulation and enforcement across the Great Lakes states.

Sara is a proven leader with experience in a variety of contexts. Through stakeholder engagement and partnership building, Sara built a track record of successfully engaging diverse partners on water quality issues and strategies for improvement, including resource management tool development, administrative rule revisions, and conservation technical standard development and revision. She is excited to put her technical and policy development experience in agricultural nutrient management, water quality, and bioenergy to use at Clean Wisconsin to support our efforts to reduce contamination of our state’s surface and groundwater resources so that all of Wisconsin’s citizens have access to clean, safe, and plentiful water resources for generations to come!

Sara holds a Master of Science in Land Resources & Environmental Sciences from Montana State University-Bozeman and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources & Water Quality from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Favorite things to do outdoors in Wisconsin: Kayaking, gardening, camping and hiking.