Iowa Farm Bureau members, who built a strong and successful organization through a century of dedication, persistence and vision, were immortalized recently at the dedication of a sculpture called “Timeless Values.”
Farm Bureau commissioned Iowa artist Nick Klepinger to create the sculpture to memorialize the pioneers who started Farm Bureau 100 years ago, said Craig Hill, a Warren County farmer who is the 13th president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). The bronze sculpture also celebrates all of those who have built the organization over the decades, those who keep it strong today, as well as those who will continue to make Farm Bureau thrive, he said.
A great inheritance
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have inherited a great organization that has been built upon a solid foundation of principles, objectives and values,” Hill said at the sculpture’s dedication on Dec. 27, 2018 — 100 years to the day of the founding of the IFBF. “We stand on the shoulders of all of those who have come before us and have contributed in the past, and we know on your shoulders you will contribute as we go forward to carry on the next century of service to members.”
The bronze sculpture, which depicts a typical Iowa farm family in 1918, was unveiled in early December at the IFBF annual meeting. It has been mounted in the atrium of the Iowa Farm Bureau headquarters in West Des Moines and may eventually be moved to a specially designed setting on the Iowa Farm Bureau grounds.
Iowa farm families, such as the one depicted in the new sculpture, started and sustained Farm Bureau because they knew that they were stronger working together than by themselves, Hill said. Farm Bureau, he said, “was established to improve in every possible way the agriculture interests in the great commonwealth of Iowa, educationally, socially and economically. And do that through the united efforts of Iowa’s county Farm Bureaus.”
James Howard, who was the first Marshall County Farm Bureau president, the first IFBF president and the first president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, saw the desire of farm families to work together to make their lives better, Hill noted. Prior to the founding of Farm Bureau, he organized a very popular event to bring farmers together.
“He thought maybe 500 people would come to this event, but 3,000 showed up,” Hill said. “They all wanted to hear about new techniques in agriculture and about new technology. They wanted to exchange ideas. They wanted to organize.”
Farm Bureau members today, Hill added, can be very proud of the hard work and dedication that built Farm Bureau at every level and in every part of Iowa. “We have truly exceeded the expectations of the founders of the Iowa Farm Bureau, while maintaining the organization’s values and principles of Farm Bureau,” he said.
People and vision
The new sculpture also highlights Farm Bureau member families and their vision, said Joe Johnson, IFBF executive director.
“Farm Bureau has been about people since the day it started,” said Johnson. “And those people, our farmer members, have always looked forward to what the organization can do next and how it can overcome the next challenge or the next hurdle.”
In addition to dedicating the statue, Farm Bureau sealed a new time capsule to commemorate the centennial, said Tim Niess, Iowa Farm Bureau historian. The time capsule contains about 100 items and includes messages written by Iowa Farm Bureau members during the 2018 annual meeting. In addition, members of the IFBF Young Farmers Advisory Committee added pictures and descriptions of their farms, as well as predictions for agriculture’s future.