Every year, I volunteer to work a shift at Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair. We get lots of questions about the Iowa Farm Bureau from people who aren’t familiar with or are new to the grassroots organization.

Most of the questions are straightforward: “What is Farm Bureau?” or “What does Farm Bureau do?” However, one question I was asked about Farm Bureau surprised me (in a good way): “You give out the basketballs, don’t you?”

Yes, the Iowa Farm Bureau is a proud title sponsor of the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Each year, Farm Bureau gives out more than 3,700 commemorative balls to high school athletes, coaches and schools who qualify for the state tournaments in all sports, plus more than 1,100 commemorative caps to individual state champions.

The Iowa Farm Bureau is known as a leading advocate for agriculture and farm families. Yet, our work benefits all Iowans, as well as the rural communities we call home.

It’s always been that way, ever since the Iowa Farm Bureau was created in 1918. Back then, leaders from chambers of commerce, teachers, bankers, lawyers, merchants, real estate brokers and more joined farmers to support agriculture as a way of life and an economic driver that benefited them all.

This year, Iowa Farm Bureau celebrates its 100th anniversary of working to create a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families and their communities.

Indeed, Farm Bureau’s greatest impact is at the local level. Iowa is home to 100 county Farm Bureaus (98 counties plus two Farm Bureaus in West and East Pottawatamie county).

In my home county, Farm Bureau is a main sponsor of the Boone County Fair, supporting 4-H youth who exhibit livestock and hosting fun activities like a Cookout Contest and free watermelon feed.

This spring, the Boone County Farm Bureau organized a “Pack the Cab” food drive, with displays at local grocery stores encouraging shoppers to buy a few extra items to fill a tractor cab full of food for area food pantries.

Across the state, county Farm Bureau members support their local county fairs, businesses and libraries. Farm Bureaus volunteers host farm safety events and visit classrooms to teach young students about agriculture and where their food comes from.

And whenever a rural community has a need, county Farm Bureaus step in to help. Farm Bureau has donated time, money and expertise to support local water quality projects, to build new fire stations and hospitals, and to provide first responders with grain bin rescue tubes, which have saved lives.

The Iowa Farm Bureau also created the Renew Rural Iowa Program to assist entrepreneurs and businesses in rural Iowa. Renew Rural Iowa has mentored more than 3,000 Iowans and has created $125 million in economic impact for rural Iowa.

Over the last 100 years, the Iowa Farm Bureau has supported rural communities in both big and small ways. So from basketballs to new businesses on Main Street, the Iowa Farm Bureau remains dedicated to the people, progress and pride of Iowa.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's Senior Features Writer.