Iowa Farm Bureau Highlights Young Farmer Entrepreneurs with ‘Grow Your Future’ Award

News / FBNews July 1, 2022

By Sunny Andersen

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation in 2019 launched a statewide young farmer award to showcase innovation in farm operations and celebrate young farmer entrepreneurs. With an average of 15 applicants per year, approximately 45 young farmer-owned businesses have received statewide publicity as a result of applying for the award. In addition, the award’s online public voting period has boosted member engagement with the organization.

The Grow Your Future contest is open to Iowa Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35, with the first-place winner earning $7,500, second place earning $5,000, and third place earning $2,500.

The award is designed to highlight the innovative spirit of young people in Iowa agriculture, said Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “We want to celebrate young farmer entrepreneurs throughout Iowa by bringing them together to compete in a pitch-off format for statewide recognition and cash prizes.”

Though the prizes draw young farmers in, for award participants, it’s about more than the money.

“The Grow Your Future Award was such a valuable experience for us and really set us up for a great and successful 2021. Our business has experienced 712% growth since the competition - it has been a whirlwind, but we are so grateful for the support. I think participating really helped us develop a vison and a business plan and helped us feel confident enough to go for it,” said Anna Hankins and Shae Pesek of Over the Moon Flowers, the second-place winner in 2021.

Each fall, applicants are asked to submit a 3-to-5-minute video providing general information about their business and themselves. The video also highlights the applicant’s goals and how the prize funds would be used to grow the venture, as well as the positive impact the business has on the community.

Those who are eligible include young farmers who have an existing business and good standing within the county. Young farmers pursuing agriculture technology innovations and previous winners of GYF or the AFBF Ag Innovation Challenge are not eligible to participate.

A panel of qualified judges reviews the applications and selects five finalists.  The judges then use the results of an online public voting period, which brings in about 9,000 votes each year, to help them determine which three finalists will make their pitches at Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Conference in January the following year. All three finalists go home with prize money.

The award was sparked by Iowa Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers Advisory Committee’s desire to generate excitement among young farmers as well as recognize what is important to young farmers in the Iowa Farm Bureau.

The Grow Your Future Award garnered the Iowa Farm Bureau a 2022 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which honors state Farm Bureaus with the most innovative new programs, is presented annually at the AFBF Convention.

For more information on the Grow Your Future award, contact Amanda van Steenwyk,  avansteenwyk@ifbf.org, or visit: https://www.iowafarmbureau.com/Farmer-Resources/Farm-Bureau-Leaders/Grow-Your-Future-Award/

Sunny Andersen, a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is an intern in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Communications Department.

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