Iowa: They’re Making Something Here!

There’s something about Iowa, it’s not just the source of great agricultural products or the home of true pioneers, it is where you make friends. Not only has it been true for me as I have had the opportunity to work with the great Iowa State University Extension and Outreach team as they planned the upcoming conference, but in more ways as well.

On my first visit to Des Moines, I was standing outside the airport late in the evening looking for some way to get to the hotel. A gentleman had called an Uber and suggested that I join him since we were both going downtown. That is how I met the Iowa Secretary of State, Paul Pate.

I first met George Cummins, retired agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, as the nominator for this year’s honoree for the Service to Americana and World Agriculture Award. We

Phil Durst.

Dale Thoreson, Phil Durst, George Cummins and Ken Pecinovsky, at the Borlaug Learning Center, Nashua, Iowa.

conversed through email and via phone. In one of those conversations, George invited my wife and I to visit him and his wife, Vonda, in Charles City. We took them up on that invitation in late June and spent an enjoyable time getting to know them and things they are passionate about.

One of those passions is the work of Norman Borlaug, Nobel Prize Laureate and the inspiration for the World Food Prize. We visited the Borlaug Learning Center at Iowa State’s Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm. There, we talked about his mission of peace through agriculture and the legacy that remains.

We were also met by friends of George; Ken Pecinovsky, the farm superintendent, and retired ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Specialist Dale Thoreson. We laughed over antidotes and talked about current research efforts at the farm. From there, we visited the “Little Brown Church in the Vale,” the site of the writing of that hymn, then on to Fossil and Prairie Park Reserve, where a friend of George’s volunteers.

But most of all, we simply talked and shared experiences as we learned about things and views we have in common. We both have adopted children, we both have done work overseas, we both have a love for extension and a deep appreciation for others.

These are the memories that Iowa brings to my mind. After all the good food is eaten, after all the wonderful sights are seen, what you are left with is the image of people who make a positive impact on your life.

You may be coming to Iowa to give a presentation or to make a splash for your state’s candidate, or bid to host the AM/PIC, but do not miss the opportunity in Iowa to make a friend. That’s a life-changing result!

– Phil Durst
Michigan State University Extension
President of the NACAA