Iowa Learning Farms, a hands-on education and outreach program for landowners and farmers, is celebrating 15 years of service in 2019. Based at Iowa State University and delivered through ISU Extension, ILF supports education initiatives throughout Iowa focusing on conservation and water quality from a science- and research-based foundation.
In addition to its full complement of field day and outdoor classroom programs, Conservation Station visits to county fairs and farmers markets, and Water Rocks! youth education programming, ILF is planning a series of special events in 2019 to look back at its first 15 years and to look forward to the next 15.
On Feb. 14, ILF leadership met at the ISU Alumni Center and brought together farmers who’ve been practicing conservation in their farming operations (some for decades) to discuss what ILF has accomplished, where it has been less successful, and future opportunities to make a positive change in Iowa. Feedback from this meeting and surveys from farmers across the state will be compiled in a 15-year ILF Report.
Upcoming special events
Other events planned for 2019 include a celebration at Reiman Gardens in Ames on July 11. Key contributors to the success of ILF will be recognized, and leaders will share visions for the future of the program. In November, ILF is hosting Benjamin Turner, assistant professor, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, Texas A&M University, to lead a workshop on systems thinking for 25 key conservation leaders in Iowa, to help the ILF team shape activities in the future. Turner will also give a public lecture on ISU’s campus while in Ames.
“We’ve been very fortunate to receive support and expertise from the best minds in the fields of conservation, public policy and agricultural practices, enabling our team to deliver effective education on every front,” says Jacqueline Comito, ILF director. “ILF is at the forefront of reaching stakeholders in Iowa, but there are a lot of contributors, including partner organizations, sponsors and individuals, who fortify the substance of what we deliver.
“We also regularly request feedback from farmers attending field days and participating in studies, to ensure that what we deliver is not just interesting, but also helpful and complete.”
ILF Profile series
A series of articles about key individuals and organizations that helped start the ILF program and have fostered its continued growth over the years will appear on Wallaces Farmer website. The series begins March 22.
To learn more about ILF outreach and education programs, visit iowalearningfarms.org.