From football field to farm
ANF Game Day Oct. 9 will recognize former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL player Marshal Yanda, who grew up on an Iowa farm.
The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and the University of Iowa Athletics Department last month recognized former Hawkeye great and 13-year NFL star Marshal Yanda as the 2021 America Needs Farmers (ANF) addition to the Wall of Honor.
Yanda is the ninth recipient of the ANF Wall of Honor, which salutes former University of Iowa football players who exemplify the tenacity, work ethic and character of the Iowa farmer.
The IFBF and the Hawkeyes will celebrate America’s farmers and the important role agriculture plays in everyone’s daily lives during the annual ANF Game Day Oct. 9 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
Yanda, a native Iowan and decorated former NFL All-Pro guard, represents the fifth generation raised on his family’s dairy farm 5 miles north of Anamosa. He credits his on-field success to his farm upbringing and watching his parents work diligently milking cows twice a day, 365 days a year.
“The things I learned growing up on the farm, like pride and work ethic, took me to the highest level of professional sports and winning a Super Bowl, but that all started right here on the farm,” said Yanda. “Those values were instilled in me by my parents, and it’s how I live my life today, and I still carry those lessons with me every day.”
Long before reaching the pinnacle of professional football and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy following the Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 Super Bowl win, Yanda was an Iowa farm kid with tenacity and a dream.
Yanda was a star player for North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) during his freshman and sophomore collegiate seasons, but nobody envisioned that a decade later Yanda would be widely considered one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL.
After two years at NIACC, Yanda transferred to the University of Iowa to play his final two seasons and collected numerous awards and accolades before being selected in the third round of the NFL draft. Yanda says the commitment to continuous improvement that embodied his football career is something he also sees in agriculture.
“Farmers are always trying to do better and improve the care for the animals; treating animals with care and respect is how we make our living,” Yanda said. “There are a lot of farmers doing great things and working to make things better every day, and it’s great to be a part of.”
Previous ANF Wall of Honor recipients include Casey Wiegmann (2012), Jared DeVries (2013), Bruce Nelson (2014), Robert Gallery (2015), Dallas Clark (2016), Chad Greenway (2017), Aaron Kampman (2018) and Matt Kroul (2019).
ANF was launched during the Hawkeyes’ 1985 Rose Bowl season by head coach Hayden Fry to show support for farmers during the 1980’s Farm Crisis. The Hawkeye helmets still have the special ANF decal on them today.
This year marks the 36th anniversary of ANF, a longstanding tribute to America’s farmers, and the 10th year IFBF and the University of Iowa have partnered to help connect Iowa’s farm families to consumers to learn more about the production of food, fuel and fiber.
“The annual ANF game is a great opportunity for fans to meet Iowa farmers and learn about the diversity of Iowa agriculture while celebrating its impact in Iowa and around the country,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “Marshal Yanda embodies everything ANF is all about — his Farm Strong work ethic, pride in Iowa agriculture and doing things the right way. We are grateful to add another exemplary former Hawkeye to the ANF Wall of Honor.”
During the ANF Game Day on Oct. 9, fans can stop by the ANF Legends Tent at Krause Family Plaza to meet farmers who grow and raise their food, play games to win great prizes and get autographs from former Hawkeye and NFL greats, including Yanda.
Fans can show their ANF and Hawkeye pride by purchasing ANF merchandise during game day in shops around the stadium with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Iowa Food Bank Association. Since the ANF partnership began, more than $180,000 has been raised to feed hungry Iowans.
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