Weather, market uncertainty, global pandemics and other factors outside of a farmer’s control make agriculture a challenging career and lifestyle to pursue. However, Iowa’s young farmers continue to break through these hurdles with innovative solutions and an entrepreneurial spirit to offer something unique to their communities and add value to their family farms. To encourage that innovative spirit, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) created a “Grow Your Future” award last year, to encourage young farmer members, ages 18-35, to create businesses within niche markets, agritourism, ag services or specialty products.

“Farmers have faced an incredible amount of adversity this year with unforeseen challenges and hardship, but it hasn’t discouraged our will to find new ways to persevere,” said Craig Hill, president of IFBF. “This award elevates those young Iowa farmers who are innovating and seeking alternative paths in agriculture to provide for their families and offer their local communities something unique. All contestants should be extremely proud of their businesses and place within Iowa agriculture, and to show our pride in these young farmers, Iowa Farm Bureau is offering the top three Grow Your Future award winners recognition and monetary awards to help elevate their brand and hard work.”

The top three Grow Your Future winners for 2021 will receive cash prizes to grow their business with first place taking home $7,500, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500.

“I highly encourage young farmers to enter the Grow Your Future competition,” said 2020 top finalist Shelby Smith of Gym-N-Eat Crickets of Story County. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase your business, learn to tell your story and meet other farmers and entrepreneurs. The experience was invaluable to me, and two of my growers came from connections made during my pitch at the Young Farmer Conference.”

Online applications are due by Sept. 1, 2020. Hopeful contestants will need to submit a short video introducing themselves, their business, the impact it has had on the local community and future goals. Ten finalists will be selected from the submitted applications. To learn more about eligibility for the Grow Your Future award and how to enter, visit

To narrow the playing field, a public vote will kick off on Dec. 8 during the IFBF annual meeting and run through Dec. 17. During that time, the public will be encouraged to vote for their favorite Iowa contestant. The top six entrepreneurs that emerge from the voting ring will compete in a pitch-off during the 2021 Young Farmer Conference on Sat., Jan. 30, and the prize-winning top three will be announced.

The winners of the 2020 contest, in order, were Shelby Smith of Gym-N-Eat Crickets LLC, Lynn Bolin of New Day Dairy Bed and Breakfast and Jake McGreal and Lara Mangialardi of McGreal Family Farms.