Iowa Learning Farms Celebrates 15 Years of Service

Award-winning conservation and water quality outreach and education program feted for its longstanding success and impact on the state

July 17, 2019, 8:43 am | Elizabeth Ripley

John Lawrence at celebration.AMES, Iowa – Iowa Learning Farms celebrated 15 years of serving the conservation and agricultural needs of Iowa during an event at Reiman Gardens July 11. Iowa Learning Farms is a hands-on education and outreach program for Iowa landowners and agricultural producers based with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The celebration brought together Iowa’s conservation leaders, ILF partners, supporters and staff, as well as representatives from agencies that have helped guide and fund ILF missions since 2004.

John Lawrence, Vice President for Extension and Outreach, applauded the ILF team for continuing to stay true to the roots of the program through its focus on farmer-to-farmer teaching.

Bruce Trautman, former acting director of the Iowa DNR expressed thanks for the efforts of ILF, the excellent stewardship of some $1.5 million in funds granted over 15 years, and particularly the people in the fields and those farmer partners who’ve been teaching over the fences across Iowa.

Kurt Simon, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service made note of the numerous field days conducted by ILF, which have touched some 13,000 Iowans. He also lauded the organization for its outstanding partnership with NRCS and the value returned for nearly $1 million in funding over its lifetime.

Susan Kozak, from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Division of Water and Soil Conservation, brought greetings and appreciation from Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, noting the importance of the relationship between state offices and Iowa State University. She also recognized ILF for its application of social science as a core element of programming, noting that the data collected by ILF is crucial to mapping a path to progress for the state’s nutrient reduction strategy.

“Fifteen years is a milestone that many programs never reach,” said Jaqueline Comito, director of ILF. “We would not have enjoyed the successes we’ve had without the tremendous support, encouragement, and input from the people and organizations in the room tonight.”

From its founding in 2004, ILF has implemented a multidisciplinary approach in its efforts to increase adoption of conservation practices that would lead to greater natural resource protection. Bridging areas including agricultural engineering, agronomy, soil science, conservation, and social science, the team has honed its approach to education services in ways that resonate with stakeholders across the state.

In March 2019 ILF published “Building a Culture of Conservation – 2004-2019,” a 15-Year report which highlights the program’s successes, touch points, growth and impacts over the term. The report also includes challenges faced by the organization and sets goals for the future.

In conclusion, Comito said, “Throughout the 15 years, not everything we tried was a complete success, but as you can see by the turnout for this event and the results tabulated in the 15-Year report, ILF has made a difference and we look forward to continuing to change, grow and have even greater impact over the next 15 years.”

To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, please visit us on the web at


Photo: John Lawrence recognized the Iowa Learning Farms team for for continuing to stay true to the roots of the program through its focus on farmer-to-farmer teaching.

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