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Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture records

 Record Group — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 9/1/5

Scope and Content

This collection documents the administrative activities of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Types of materials include news clippings, annual reports, newsletters, brochures, correspondence, notes, presentations, photographs, grant reports, project proposals, and biographical files. Subjects include sustainable farming techniques, local business and local food partnerships, crop rotations, barn design, soil nutrients, pesticides, and markets.

Electronic versions of publications, reports, and papers are available through the Iowa State University Library Digital Repository's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences collection.


  • 1977-2018, undated


Access Restrictions

Open for research. Due to preservation concerns, no audiovisual materials or electronic records may be viewed in the reading room. Contact the Special Collections and University Archives department if you would like to view any of the audiovisual or electronic records listed here.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established at Iowa State University in 1987 by the State of Iowa's Groundwater Protection Act. The Leopold Center was originally charged with researching the negative impacts of Iowa's agricultural practices, assisting in the development of alternative practices, and informing the public, in cooperation with ISU Extension, on the results of research conducted at the Leopold Center.

According to its 2002 vision statement, the Leopold Center "ELexplores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation." The Center's goals "are to identify and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources as well as reducing negative environmental and social impacts." In accordance with this new direction, the Leopold Center focused its research initiatives into three distinct areas: marketing and food systems, ecology, and policy.

The director of the Leopold Center was aided by a 17-member advisory board that assists in making decisions on funding for research proposals, policies and procedures, budgets, and program reviews. The advisory board is composed of two active farmers and representatives from Iowa's colleges and regent universities, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and several Iowa farm organizations.

The Leopold Center shared the results of its research findings with the agricultural community and the general public through collaborative efforts with ISU Extension and other state, university, and local organizations. It also supported conferences, seminars and special events related to the three research initiatives. The Leopold Center also regularly published conference proceedings, newsletters, reports, and other special publications.

In 2017, the Iowa Legislature voted to defund and close the Leopold Center. Governor Terry Branstad used a line-item veto to keep the Leopold Center open although he removed the state's funding. The funding for the Leopold Center was redirected to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and the Iowa Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Program. The center has been using its endowment and other funding sources to remain open and complete on-going grant projects. Following a listening tour and discussion with an advisory board, the Center shifted their mission to focus on the education and research of alternative approaches and practices to promote resilient rural communities across Iowa.

Directors of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture:

Dennis Keeney (1988-2000)

Fred Kirschenmann (2000-2006)

Jerry DeWitt (2006-2010)

Lois Morton Wright

(2010-2011) Interim

Mark Honeyman

(2011-2012) Interim

Mark Rasmussen

(2012- )


33.25 Linear Feet (28 records cartons, 11 document boxes, 2 half-document boxes, and 6 media boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into the following series:

[RS 9/1/5/0] Publications, 1980-2011 (alphabetically)

[RS 9/1/5/1] Administrative Records, 1987-2015 (alphabetically)

[RS 9/1/5/2] Biographical Files, 1977-2012 (alphabetically)

[RS 9/1/5/3] Grant Materials, 1986-2017 (grant number)

[RS 9/1/5/4] Photographs, 1986-2001 (alphabetically)

[RS 9/1/5/5] Electronic Records 1993-2013

[RS 9/1/5/6] Audiovisual Materials, 1999-2007 (alphabetically)

[RS 9/1/5/7] Restricted Materials


A portion of the Leopold Center grant reports, annual reports, conference papers, extension and outreach proceedings, and other publications are available electronically in the Iowa State University Digital Repository. Please see the Electronic Resources section for the link.

Items in related collections

RS 9/1. Iowa State University. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences records, 1893-2015 RS 9/1/5/11. Dennis Keeney papers, 1952-2013, undated

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2019-11-12.

RS 9/1/5. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture records, 1977-2018, undated
July 1, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672