The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, located on the campus of Iowa State University at Ames, will mark two decades of innovative research and creative solutions during its 20th anniversary celebration and conference July 10-11 at ISU. The festivities highlight the center's many partners and successes and, more importantly, explore future challenges and obstacles to the sustainability of Iowa's agricultural landscape.
"Don't expect typical presentations and the usual conference fare," says Leopold Center director Jerry DeWitt. "We are looking at a variety of approaches to better engage everyone who attends these events. The center's work over the past 20 years has been anything but business as usual; likewise with the celebration."
Interesting speakers, sessions and tours
Holding true to that promise, the event schedule begins July 10 with optional tours leaving from Iowa State Center. July 11 activities in the Scheman Building include displays and demonstrations, thought-provoking sessions, posters that highlight Leopold Center-funded research, and networking opportunities with Leopold Center partners and professionals from across the country.
Keynote speaker for the July 11 gathering will be Mark Ritchie, newly-elected Minnesota Secretary of State and founder of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Ag & Trade Policy. A 1972 ISU grad, Ritchie grew up in Nevada, Iowa, and is an active proponent of long-term sustainability for agriculture and rural communities.
The day-long conference offers more than 20 breakout sessions on four hot topic issue tracks: Natural Resources, Food and Health, People on the Land, and the Bioeconomy. Experts in agriculture, including farmers, researchers and industry professionals, will share their experiences and lead discussions related to each topic. In addition to these sessions, the center will host an outdoor festival with several interactive demonstrations, a live band and locally-grown meal.
Choose your tour now for July 10
The July 10 tours will provide an opportunity to see, hear, feel and even taste what is happening in Iowa's sustainable ag community. Five tours, both full- and half-day, focus on some of the center's most engaging work. Space is limited, so registrations will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tours include:
* "Homemade Pie, Dairy-Fresh Ice Cream … Heaven in Iowa!" to locations in northeast Iowa that feature locally-raised food
* "A Look at the Culture in Agriculture," a tour of the Whiterock Conservancy near Coon Rapids and The Homestead near Des Moines
* "Water Quality is Everybody's Job," a visit to the Bear Creek Watershed and an urban rain garden
* "Biomass for Biofutures," traveling to the BECON Energy Center near Nevada
* "Black Soil and Purple Lips," a look at a local winery and grape research plots.
The Leopold Center's 20th Anniversary Celebration promises to inform, entertain as well as challenge participants. Cost for the conference is $35 before June 11 or $50 after that date. Tour charges are $20 for half-day tours and $35 for the full-day tours (which includes lunch). To register or for more information, visit the conference Web site at www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/leopold/home.html.