Farm Progress

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is presented Iowa Ag Leader Award.

August 17, 2017

4 Min Read
PORTRAIT OF AGRICULTURE: A mural painted by Iowa artist Karen Doty during the 2016 Iowa State Fair was later installed at Heartland Acres.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey recently presented Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area with an Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Award in recognition of their leadership in agritourism and sustainable heritage development. He recognized the efforts by Silos & Smokestacks to highlight the land, people and communities in northeast Iowa that tell the story of agriculture in Iowa.

Northey presented the award Aug. 2 at Silos & Smokestacks partner site Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence.

"Silos & Smokestacks does a tremendous job of sharing the story of Iowa agriculture. The sites within the heritage area showcase the important role agriculture has played in our state's history, as well as highlighting the impact of our state's agriculture industry around the world," he said. "It’s my honor to recognize Silos & Smokestacks and highlight the great work they do preserving and promoting our state's agriculture."

Celebrating land, people and communities
Northey created the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Award to recognize, honor and promote Iowa residents, companies and organizations who have made significant contributions to Iowa agriculture. "We are honored to be recognized as a leader in agriculture," said Silos & Smokestacks President Cara Miller. “This award not only honors the heritage area as a whole, but all of our tremendous sites that together tell and preserve the story of American agriculture."

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the nation and is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. Through the development of a network of sites, programs and events, Silos & Smokestack's mission is to interpret farm life, agribusiness and rural communities past and present. The National Heritage Area preserves and tells the story of U.S. agriculture and its global significance through partnerships and activities celebrating the land, people and communities of the area. 

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area in northeast Iowa is a 37-county, 20,000-square mile area featuring 117 sites and attractions, including dairy farms, museums, historic sites, scenic routes, tractor assembly tours and more. More information is at

Highlighting conservation, water quality
A mural designed to promote a conversation about agriculture and conservation, and how the two go hand in hand was installed at Heartland Acres. “We are excited this beautiful mural found a permanent home where visitors from across the state and around the world can enjoy it,” said Northey.

The 24-by-8-foot mural was painted by Iowa artist Karen Doty during the 2016 Iowa State Fair in the ag building. You can watch the mural being painted on YouTube.  


AWARD WINNER: On behalf of Silos & Smokestacks, Cara Miller, president (far right) and Candy Streed, director of partnerships, accept the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Award from Bill Northey. Also pictured (far left) are Craig Johnson, executive director of Heartland Acres, and artist Karen Doty.

The project was made possible through support of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Dairy Association, and Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship.

Grants share story of U.S. agriculture
Silos & Smokestacks announced it will award up to $50,000 through its 2017 General Grant Program. The grants fund ag-related interpretive projects in the Heritage Area, including exhibit development, educational programs, interpretive signs, marketing and event programming.

This year, to expand the ag story in the Heritage Area, consideration will be given to projects and programming that incorporate interpretation of the current agricultural story.

Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, local and regional governments, or federally recognized Indian tribes with projects in the Heritage Area. The grant project work must benefit the Heritage Area directly. Projects funded by the grant program must provide a one-to-one non-federal match to the grant. Grant awards range from $1,000 to $10,000. Criteria and application are available at Applications must be submitted by Sept. 15. 

"American agriculture is constantly changing, and our grant programs must change as well to keep up with current practices," said Miller. "Our programs not only work to preserve what has happened, but also what is happening right now."

Since the program began in 2001, Silos & Smokestacks has funded more than $1.9 million to projects dedicated to telling America's ag story.

Source: Silos & Smokestacks

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