Iowans explore agriculture firsthand through Expedition Farm Country

Two-day event showcases farms, eateries and ag transportation in northeast Iowa

Ankeny, IA – The Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) hosted Expedition Farm Country Aug. 24 and 25 to give consumers the chance to dive into modern agriculture, interact directly with farm families and foster a greater appreciation for farming in Iowa.

The fourth-annual event took more than 50 participants on a tour of dairy, soybean, corn, beef cattle and pig farms in northeast Iowa, as well as Lock & Dam No. 11 in Dubuque.

 “The Iowa Food & Family Project is about connecting farmers and consumers to build greater understanding and appreciation for farming, and Expedition Farm Country truly brings that mission to life,” said Kelly Visser, Communications Program Coordinator at the Iowa Soybean Association and lead organizer of Iowa FFP. “It’s exciting to see genuinely curious consumers ask questions and gain a fuller perspective on where their food comes from.”

Participants represented a variety of industries and backgrounds including healthcare, food banks, administrative services, communications, education and manufacturing. They were selected in part by their intent to share the expedition experience with personal and professional networks.

“I work with teachers and businesses to create real-world connections between classroom learning and their local communities. The entire tour was full of examples I can share with educators,” said participant Sarah Derry, PhD., South Central Regional STEM Manager for the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

Beginning at Heartland Acres, an agriculture exhibition center in Independence, the group explored decades of Iowa’s agriculture history. The tour then led to Country View Dairy where participants learned about the dairy industry and toured a milking tour and yogurt production facility. Participants then jumped in the cab of a tractor, sprayer and combine and learned about the conservation and precision technology behind soybean and corn production at Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun’s in Farmersburg.  

Saturday’s Expedition Farm Country experience led the group to Lock and Dam No. 11 for a behind-the-scenes look at grain transportation along the Mississippi River. The tour then led to New Vienna to learn about beef production, animal comfort and feed mixing at Marty and Steve Schwers cattle operation.

The final leg of the tour included a stop at G&W Pork in Aurora where Al and Kathy Wulfekuhle shared insights on pork production, biosecurity and animal welfare.  

Iowans interested in participating in future farm tours or other Iowa FFP initiatives can subscribe to the Fresh Pickings email newsletter at

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The Iowa Food & Family Project encourages Iowans to become more confident and trusting in agriculture and food production through community activities, educational programs and information sharing. It proudly sponsors Live Healthy Iowa and is backed by more than 35 partners including each of the participating agricultural organizations, plus restaurants and retailers throughout the state.

Funded in part by the soybean, pork, corn, beef, dairy, egg and turkey checkoffs.