Three Iowans received the Iowa Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Leadership Award, with one of the recipients being from Delaware County. All three were recognized and commended for their commitment to their respective communities and conservation.

The Young Farmer Leadership Award was created in honor of former Iowa Farm Bureau President Bob Joslin, and recognizes farmers under the age of 35 who contribute to and demonstrate leadership within their communities and agriculture, per a press release from Iowa Farm Bureau.

Josh Bierbaum of Griswold, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau
Josh Bierbaum of Griswold, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau

Josh Bierbaum of Griswold, IA:

Josh Bierbaum of Griswold grows corn and soybeans with his brother and dad on their Heritage family farm—a designation for farms held within the same family for 150 years.

Bierbaum, who serves as the Cass County Farm Bureau vice president, is an Iowa Farm Bureau Ag Leaders Institute graduate and has attended Farm Bureau policy trips to Washington D.C. to share day-to-day farming challenges with lawmakers.

As a member of the Griswold Ag Boosters Association, Bierbaum volunteers at the local county fair, soil judging competitions and serves as a mentor for the Griswold FFA corn test plot:

I went to school here. I have friends and family here; I wanted to be an active member. I think it’s an important part of what I was raised to do. - Josh Bierbaum

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His passion for engaging youth in agriculture inspired him to grant his award money to the Cass County 4-H Vision Endowment to help sponsor youth afford day camps, programs and membership fees.

Matthew Burt of Marshalltown, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau
Matthew Burt of Marshalltown, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau

Matthew Burt of Marshalltown, IA:

Matthew Burt of Marshalltown is the sixth generation on his family farm. He grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs and cattle with his parents, wife, Karen, and one-year-old daughter, Rachel.

Burt is an Ag Leaders Institute graduate and currently serves as the Marshall County Farm Bureau vice president. In this role, he enjoys presenting to elementary students on farm life, tractor safety and career opportunities in agriculture. Because of the relationships he’s made through Farm Bureau’s young farmer events, Burt’s felt strongly about awarding his grant will go to Seeds of Hope Foundation, an organization that assists young farm families struggling with long-term, life-threatening illnesses.

On the farm, Burt says he's always striving to do better. In addition to grassed waterways, Conservation Reserve Program acres and the use of technology to apply precise fertilizer amounts, he’s looking to introduce other conservation practices:

We may have a record crop, but there’s always something in that process we can improve. - Matthew Burt, adding that he’s experimenting with conservation tillage to reduce soil erosion.

Ryan Gibbs of Hopkinton, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau
Ryan Gibbs of Hopkinton, IA. Photo Credit: Iowa Farm Bureau

Ryan Gibbs of Hopkinton, IA:

Ryan Gibbs of Hopkinton farms with his wife, Kristy, and two young children, Kendrick and Kolette. He grows corn, soybeans, cereal rye and buckwheat and raises cattle, commercial pigs, pasture-raised pigs and chickens.

He is also an Iowa Cover Crop dealer, an opportunity that emerged from connections he made at Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Conference. As a dealer, he grows cover crop seed and helps farmers successfully plant and manage cover crops to build soil health and reduce nutrient loss.

On his own farmland, Gibbs uses no-till, cover crops, rotationally grazed cattle and vermicompost—an organic fertilizer derived from worms. He is known for his strong conservation mindset in the farming community:

If the neighbors don’t talk about what I’m doing, I’m not trying hard enough. - Ryan Gibbs

Gibbs also has donated cover crop seed for Maquoketa Valley FFA’s 20-acre plot and mentored students on soil fertility recommendations. He then purchased the harvested seed from the students to sell to area farmers to plant. In addition to this partnership, Gibbs awarded his grant to the Maquoketa Valley FFA to support their hydroponics system which will provide fresh vegetables for local schools and businesses.

Each winner of the Young Farmer Leadership Award is given a $2,000 grant to designate to a non-profit of their choice, an expense paid trip to the 2024 AFBF Annual Convention or Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, an expense paid trip to the 2024 IFBF Young Farmer Conference, $500 gift certificate from Grainger, and $1,500 cash from GROWMARK.

Read more about the Iowa Farm Bureau on their website.

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