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Serving: United States
field after harvest
WHAT IS CDI? Conservation Districts of Iowa supports the local soil and water conservation districts in the state through education, commissioner development, policy and promotion of conservation practices.

Whitaker chosen to lead Conservation Districts of Iowa

Former FSA official is new executive director of Iowa conservation organization.

The state conservation organization, Conservation Districts of Iowa, hired John Whitaker as its new executive director. Whitaker recently served as executive director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Iowa under President Barack Obama.

“I’m honored to be working with CDI which is dedicated to conserving our soil, natural resources and improving water quality,” Whitaker says.

In addition to working for USDA, Whitaker served 10 years as county supervisor in Van Buren County and seven years in the Iowa House of Representatives. In the Legislature, he served two years as assistant minority leader and three years as assistant majority leader. He also served three years as vice president and nine years as president of Iowa Farmers Union. “We are thrilled to have someone with John’s conservation ethic and public service background join CDI,” says Alex Schmidt, president of CDI.

Whitaker is active in the family farm operation with brother Bruce and son Gabe. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, rye and hay using no-till methods. They feed hogs for Niman Ranch in a deep-bedding system and have a cow-calf herd.

The mission of CDI is to inform, educate and lead Iowans through local soil and water conservation districts to promote conservation of natural resources. CDI is a nonprofit umbrella organization representing the state’s 100 local soil and water conservation districts and 500 locally elected commissioners.

Hansen named RLI president-elect
Other Iowa ag-related names in the news recently include Kyle Hansen of Hertz Real Estate Services based at Nevada. He will serve on the Realtors Land Institute board of directors as 2019 national president-elect. Hansen will continue his four-year term on RLI’s executive committee making him the association’s 2020 national president. An active member of the RLI Iowa chapter, he supervises RLI’s twice-a-year land value survey.

Hansen serves at an integral time for the organization as it continues into the final year of a three-year strategic plan.

“I look forward to continue working with the board of directors, executive team and staff on behalf of our members to promote, educate and lead RLI to be, ‘the voice of land.’ This organization has meant a lot for my career, and I appreciate the opportunity to give back to the members who helped me in the past and will help me in the future,” he says.

Hertz Farm Management is a company assisting farmland owners with professional farm management, farmland sales, auctions, acquisitions and farm appraisals. With 15 offices in the Midwest, it manages 2,400 farms and over 550,000 acres. For information, visit

Sukup inducted into National Academy
Charles Sukup, president of Sukup Manufacturing Co., headquartered at Sheffield, was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) earlier this fall. He’s one of 83 new members elected in 2018. There are currently 2,293 members of the NAE. Election into the NAE is the highest professional distinction accorded an engineer.

Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

“I’m deeply honored to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering,” says Sukup, “and grateful to be among the innovative engineers named. They have made important contributions to engineering worldwide. My inclusion in NAE is a direct reflection of the company founded by my father Eugene and the dedicated employees who create the Sukup products that store and protect the world’s grain supply.”

Sukup has served as president of Sukup Manufacturing Co. since 1995. He holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s in ag engineering, both from Iowa State University.

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