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What are the Core Competencies?

The Core Competencies are the foundational knowledge of soil and water conservation. During the development of the Technical Training and Certification Strategy, MASWCD, MACDE, BWSR, and NRCS endorsed these foundational competencies for all staff, regardless of position:

  • Soils

  • Water Quality

  • Conservation Planning

To meet this training need TTCP developed a series of self-paced, online modules for each topic, and a new website dedicated to housing these courses. The content of the modules is specific to Minnesota, and provides the information all conservation employees need to know. The Core Competencies include:


  • Module 1: Introduction to Soils

  • Module 2: Web Soil Survey Basics

  • Module 3: Soil Health Basics

Water Quality

  • Module 1: Why Do We Care About Water Quality?

  • Module 2: Understanding Surface and Groundwater Flow

  • Module 3: Water Contaminants

  • Module 4: Point and Non-Point Sources of Pollution

  • Module 5: Best Management Practices for Water Quality (Parts 1 and 2)

  • Module 6: Nutrient Reduction in Minnesota

  • Module 7: Understanding Water Quality and Climate Change

Conservation Planning

  • Module 1: How did we get here? History of Minnesota’s Conservation Efforts

  • Module 2: Conservation Planning Process

  • Module 3: The Watershed Concept

  • Module 4: Minnesota Resource Concerns and Land Uses

  • Module 5: Conservation Practice Standards

  • Module 6: Minnesota Conservation Practices

  • Module 7: Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG): A Primary Technical Reference

  • Module 8: Understanding Partnerships

Who should complete Core Competency training?

All employees, regardless of position, should have a basic understanding of soil and water conservation activities. It is recommended that all employees, especially new employees, complete these modules.

How do I access the Core Competencies?

The first step for completing any Core Competency training is to create an account on the MNC3 website.

Instructions on creating an account and registering courses can be found here.

In addition, here are some pointers to improve your training experience:

  • To reduce spam and junk email filtering disruptions, add “” your email address book
  • To optimize viewing module content and accessing links, use Chrome as your browser to complete the training

We want your feedback!

Did a module meet or exceed your expectations? Do you have suggestions to improve a module? Were you unable to create an account, enroll in a course, or get a certificate?

Whatever the case may be, please click here to let us know!