David Vail receives Water Scholar Award to support his agricultural-environmental research

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney associate history professor David Vail is receiving grant funding to conduct research at the Colorado State University Water Resources Archive.

He is one of two recipients of the 2023 Water Scholar Award announced this week by Colorado State University Libraries. These research grants help offset the expenses of researchers engaged in studies that will benefit from access to the holdings of the Water Resources Archive as well as costs associated with presentations, publications or other products resulting from that research.

Vail will conduct research at the Water Resources Archive in early May.

“I’m so honored for this award,” he wrote. “These collections in the Water Resources Archive and the complicated stories they tell can provide the historical grounding and perspectives that we need for the risks ahead.”

Vail is a historian specializing in teaching and research in agricultural and environmental history and the history of science and medicine.

His current research project explores how farm producers, agricultural scientists and federal policymakers made efforts toward crop safety and disaster relief in the late 1940s to early 1960s. He’ll explore collections related to the Great Plains Agricultural Council as well as notable figures in Colorado water history, such as Louis Carpenter, Ivan Wood and W.D. Farr.

The archival collections will provide the historical context, connections and scientific documentation needed for his upcoming book, “Vulnerable Harvests: Emergency Conservation in the Cold War Great Plains.” The book will offer new findings on the region’s influence on agricultural-environmental conservation and emergency federalism during the Cold War.