Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on December 13 announced that Jim Gillespie has been hired as the new director of the division of soil conservation in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Chuck Gipp, the previous director, left earlier this year to become deputy director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The division of soil conservation is responsible for administering state programs and providing leadership to farmers, landowners, communities and others to promote the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources. The division also assists local soil and water conservation districts and private landowners to meet their agricultural and environmental protection needs.
"Jim has extensive experience with both the people and the programs that make-up our division of soil conservation and I know he will provide strong leadership as the division continues its work to protect our air, soil and water," says Northey. "We had a number of strong candidates for the position and I know Jim will do a great job."
Looks forward to continuing to build a strong "culture of conservation"
"I look forward to working with farmers, landowners, partners, and soil and water conservation districts to continue to build on the 'culture of conservation' that is so strong in our state," Gillespie says. "There are great opportunities ahead for Iowa agriculture due to the growing world population and the need to produce more food, so the division's work to support efforts to protect our soil and water remains tremendously important. It is vital that these resources remain protected and productive for future generations."
Gillespie has served field services bureau chief for the state ag department since 1989. In this position he has overseen the work of 136 employees for the division of soil conservation in 100 offices around the state and worked in partnership with the 500 elected soil and water conservation commissioners in Iowa.
Previously Gillespie served as a field representative in the division of soil conservation and worked with county soil and water conservation districts on local resource management issues.
Iowa division of soil conservation works to preserve soil in many ways
He graduated from Northwest Missouri University with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with an emphasis on agriculture. After graduation he taught agriculture classes at Earlham Community School and served as the FFA advisor for four years before joining the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Gillespie and his wife Terri live in Earlham have 4 adult children.
Iowa is a national leader in the implementation of water quality and watershed projects, soil conservation, buffer programs, and mined land reclamation. Iowa currently leads the nation in the continuous Conservation Reserve Program buffer initiative with more than 600,000 acres. Iowa also has more than 60 active watershed and water quality projects across the state.
"We have great employees within the division of soil conservation at IDALS who work very hard to advance conservation both on the farm and in town and Jim will provide strong leadership as they continue their work with landowner, farmers, stakeholders, and others to better care for our state's precious natural resources," Northey adds.