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Exceptional Service to Iowa Agriculture AwardExceptional Service to Iowa Agriculture Award

Two Iowa State University Extension specialists receive special honor from Wallaces Farmer.

Rod Swoboda 1

March 9, 2017

2 Min Read
SERVING IOWA AG: Steve Johnson, ISU Extension farm management specialist, is one of two winners of the Exceptional Service to Iowa Agriculture Award. The other is Clarke McGrath, an ISU soybean agronomist.

The Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award isn’t given out every year. It is presented from time to time to individuals who aren’t farmers but have served a lifetime helping farmers. The award, sponsored by Wallaces Farmer, recognizes exceptional service to Iowa agriculture.

This year the award goes to two Iowa State University Extension specialists who work directly with farmers: Clarke McGrath and Steve Johnson.

McGrath is the On-Farm Research and Extension coordinator for the Iowa Soybean Research Center at ISU. Johnson is the ISU Extension farm management specialist in central Iowa. Both were nominated by farmers who have benefited from and appreciate the educational efforts and information programming offered by these two “teachers” over the years.

Before his current job, Clarke spent 13 years as an ISU Extension field agronomist in western Iowa. With a down-to-earth practical approach, his meetings were well-attended, and his phone always rang during crop season as farmers sought his help. He writes the Soybean Source column each month for Wallaces Farmer.

Before joining ISU, Clarke spent nearly a decade as a retail agronomist and manager in the Growmark system, earning several awards. He is a certified cop adviser for Iowa and nationally.

Clarke is a retired honorary firefighter who served with the Harlan Fire Department, where he was a Heartland Heroes nominee and was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate for Extraordinary Personal Action — the organization’s top award for saving a life.

Raised on farms in Union County, Iowa, and Dixon County, Neb., Clarke and wife Meg have two grown daughters.

Johnson makes sense of it all
Johnson has served as the ISU Extension and Outreach farm and ag business management specialist in central Iowa for the past 17 years. He speaks at over 100 meetings and workshops across the Corn Belt each year. Topics range from government farm programs and crop insurance to crop marketing and farmland leasing. Johnson writes articles for Wallaces Farmer and is known for his ability to make complex farm financial information easy to understand.

Johnson served in a similar Extension role at Colorado State University, and then worked in crop research and training in private industry. During the 1980s, he taught high school vo-ag at Mount Ayr and was an ag lending specialist with Brenton Banks in Knoxville. He was raised on a family farm near Pleasantville. He has a doctorate in education and natural resource management from Colorado State and a bachelor’s and master’s from ISU.

He and wife Rachel have two grown sons and three grandsons.


About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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