If you were among the 1.1 million people who attended the Iowa State Fair last month, hopefully you had a chance to stop by Farm Bureau Park, where our theme “Generations of Conservation” celebrated the work Iowa farmers are doing to improve soil and water quality. 

With football season upon us, it was appropriate that staff members and farmer volunteers wore T-shirts recognizing Iowa farmers as national champions in conservation. Iowa ranks No. 1 in seven conservation practices — water quality wetlands, bioreactors, grassed waterways, filter and buffer strips, pollinator habitat and conservation tillage.

These conservation efforts have indeed been happening for generations. Last week’s Spokesman featured Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year Dan Voss, who credits his father for being a no-till pioneer in the 1990s. Voss is now passing his conservation knowledge on to his son, Brian, who is the fifth generation on the family’s Heritage Farm. 

Two other Farm Bureau members also were honored for their conservation efforts last week. Loran Steinlage, who is serving as a Spokesman crop reporter this year, received the 2023 Iowa Leopold Conservation Award. Darcy Maulsby, a Calhoun County Farm Bureau board member, was named 2023 Iowa Conservation Woman of the Year. 

Of course, many other Farm Bureau members also reap  awards that we often don’t hear about. Most don’t do it for the recognition anyway. Almost every conservation winner I’ve interviewed over the years has said he or she doesn’t think they’re special. They’re just doing their best to leave the land better than they found it for the next generation.