Pre-Conference Tours

Animal Science Preconference Tour – August 10-12

This year’s Animal Science Pre-tour kicks off Thursday, August 10, with an informal meet and greet dinner at 6pm at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport, 6111 Fleur Dr, Des Moines. Participants should gather at the registration desk by 6:45 AM on Friday, August 11, 2023.

The first stop will be the Tama Livestock Auction which is now in its fourth generation of family ownership, to hear about the family history of the barn and how it has changed. Next we head east to Schanbacher Acres, a 400-cow dairy that recently updated to a swing-20 Trans-Iowa parlor. The next stop is Amana Farms, the largest cow-calf herd in the state, with a large feedyard with a methane digester, a large timber operation, seed corn, corn, beans and hay. While in Amana we’ll have an authentic family-style German lunch. We’ll spend most of the afternoon at Premier 1 Supplies, a family-owned business that provides electric fencing and netting, sheep and goat supplies, clippers and shearers, ear tags, poultry products and expert advice. They have three farms where they raise chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, meat goats and horses and test everything before they sell it to others. Friday evening will be topped off with the Celebration River Dinner Cruise on the mighty Mississippi River.

Saturday will start at the Kent Nutrition Research Farm near Muscatine which includes research facilities for swine, beef and poultry where we will hear from Randy Raub, farm manager, about ongoing research projects. From high tech we’ll travel on to see the world of the Amish. Some of the world’s best dairy goat genetics are owned by Gerald Bontrager who milks about 180 does producing an average of 3200 lb. per doe. Then we’ll travel to his neighbor for an Amish family meal. A short drive will take us to Brenneman Pork, a fully integrated, family run swine and grain operation that features observation rooms for visitors like us. We’ll wrap up the tour at the Prairie

Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Participants can dine at any of the restaurants, grills, and bars on their own, watch the races or gamble in the casino. Later in the evening the bus will return participants to the conference hotels or to the Holiday Inn to pick up their cars.

Room reservations are the responsibility of each participant. A block of rooms is on hold at the Holiday Inn Airport in Des Moines for Thursday. Call (515) 287-2400 to reserve a room in the NACAA animal science tour block before July 24. Rooms will be $100 + tax. If you fly into Des Moines, the hotel provides a shuttle. If you are driving, there will be a $20 fee to park your car during the tour.

Friday evening will be at the Holiday Inn Express in Moline, Ill. Call (319) 517-6400 to reserve their own room in the NACAA animal science tour block before July 12. Rooms will be $98+ tax. Or register online at

Thanks to sponsorship from Livestock Marketing Association, NACAA, Premier1, Kent Feeds and Iowa SARE. Registration will be $150/person which includes lunch and the river dinner cruise on Friday, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, snacks on the bus plus bus transportation. Thursday evening dinner and hotel, Friday hotel, and Saturday dinner are the responsibility of each participant. The Field of Dreams tour will start and end at the same locations, so participants can meet and mingle, or combine transportation to the pre-tour locations.

For more information please contact Mark Nelson at

Horticulture / Turfgrass Preconference Tour – August 11-12

The National Horticulture and Turfgrass Committee welcomes you to join the 2023 Horticulture and Turfgrass Pre-tour highlighting Central Iowa. The tour will begin on Friday, August 11 from the Hilton Des Moines Downtown, leaving at 8:45 am. The first stop is Principal Park home of the Iowa Cubs Minor League Baseball team. From there we will travel to Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. This garden in the heart of downtown Des Moines is a testing ground for plants and a photography studio for the company’s publications and websites, including Better Homes and Gardens and Midwest Living. Next is Jasper Winery where you will learn about Iowa’s grape and wine industry and taste the local wines made there while enjoying a catered lunch. Then visit Iowa Native Trees and Shrubs a unique nursery located in a beautiful rural setting that specializes in growing trees and shrubs native to Iowa using local seed and air-root-pruning technology. We will end our day at Brenton Arboretum where we will enjoy a catered dinner and tour of this ever-expanding collection of more than 2,500 trees and shrubs representing 500 species, hybrids, and cultivars all set among native prairie plantings. The day ends with a return to the Hotel by 9 pm.

Saturday, August 12 we meet at 7:45 am and walk to the Downtown Farmer’s Market where we will eat breakfast (on your own). Then we will load up to travel to Plant Life Designs where we will tour their beautiful gardens and learn about their landscape design process and philosophy. The next stop is the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens with fourteen acres of gardens surrounding the large iconic dome conservatory. A catered lunch will be served in the adjacent Trellis Cafe with views of the Botanical Garden. The next stop is Ted Lare Design and Build and Garden Center where we will tour the award-winning and beautiful garden center with a chance to shop. The last stop will be Grade A Gardens. This family-operated producer sustainably grows organic fruits and vegetables for CSA as well as dozens of local restaurants and specialty grocery stores. The tour will return to the Hotel by 6:30 pm.

The registration cost is $100/person. Overnight lodging is at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown (one of the conference hotels). Tour participants are responsible for making sure to book extra nights at the conference hotel. The cost of lodging is not included in the registration fee. If you are looking for a roommate please indicate that when you register for the conference.

For additional information please contact, Cyndi Lauderdale, NACAA Horticulture and Turfgrass Committee chair at

Be sure to bring sturdy closed-toe shoes, a hat, bug spray, and sunscreen. This tour uses a non-accessible van and most sites require excessive walking on uneven surfaces.

Natural Resources Preconference Tour – August 12

Discover the beauty of the Racoon River from the seat of a kayak or canoe as we explore the natural, historical and agricultural resources of the region. This pre-tour will depart from the Hilton on Saturday afternoon, August 12, and head west to the Whiterock Conservancy. There, we will be met by local experts who will highlight how we have altered the landscape and showcase conservation work in the area as they guide us down the river. Along the way we will stop to visit with speakers who will discuss key hydrogeologic features, explore the local forestry, and examine watershed practices. We will also take time to visit with specialists at some unique land management practices implemented in the adjacent agricultural land. The tour concludes with dinner (included) at the Bur Oak Visitor Center featuring local foods and relaxing scenic views. Tour vehicles will then transport you back to the conference hotel. Tour fees include transportation to and from the Racoon River, water and snacks, and dinner. Please bring sunscreen and dress for a day on (or possibly in) the water! Tour participants must be at least 6 years old. Participants younger than 12 will be required to float the river in a canoe with a participating adult.

When: Saturday before the conference, meet at the Hilton at 12:45 pm.
Cost: $55/person
For more information please contact Jody Gale at

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Preconference Tour – August 11-12

NACAA and SARE are excited to offer a Sustainable Agriculture Pre-Tour for up to 30 Extension Agents/ Specialists on Friday, August 11 – Saturday, August 12, 2023 in central Iowa. Participants should arrive Thursday, August 10th in time to depart early morning Friday, August 11. Tour van/bus will be centralized at the NACAA headquarters hotel (Hilton Downtown) and will return to that location Friday night – then travel again on Saturday to several sustainable agriculture locations all within a few hours of Des Moines. Please make sure to schedule your hotel reservations through the NACAA Registration process at one of the primary NACAA hotels. Tour stops will include:

Friday, August 11
• Boxed Breakfast provided (depart at 8:30 am)
• Root to Rise Farm (Certified Organic vegetable and herb farm in Ames, IA)
• Alluvial Brewing and Prairie Moon Winery (Ames, IA) We will enjoy a fantastic farm to table lunch with homemade lemonade, tea, and dessert. A bartender will also be available to serve local crafted beer and wine!
• Clayton Farms (Ames, IA) – Neighborhood farm, grown without pesticides all year long.
• Return to Des Moines (dinner on your own)

Saturday, August 12
• Boxed Breakfast provided (depart at 8:00 am)
• Early Morning Harvest (Panora, IA) – Small family farm raising vegetables in an aquaponics greenhouse, pastured poultry and organic cereal grains
• Lunch at Triple Berry Farm (Linden, IA)
• Loess Hills Lavender Farm (Missouri Valley, IA)
• Farm Table Procurement (Harlan, IA) – locally grown and produced food
• Dinner at Milk and Honey (Harlan, IA) Simple, fresh and familiar flavors

Registration cost is $65/person
For more information please contact Lindy Berg at

Field of Dreams, Local Foods, Scenic Sites and Horsing Around Tour – August 11-12

(Hosted by the Iowa Agriculture Extension Association)

This tour starts with breakfast at the Amana Colonies, a unique German settlement, then heads to the famous Field of Dreams movie site to visit with a Ghost Player and play some catch on the famous field. Then, traveling to the National Farm Toy museum, an antique store with lots of vintage farm toys; followed by a stroll of downtown shops and sites in Dyersville, Iowa, and culminating at Textile Brewing Company. The evening will showcase the famous Extension program “Meet the Meats” featuring local foods and local chefs. Stay overnight in Dubuque, Iowa for a next morning visit to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Enjoy a scenic drive through Rickardsville and Balltown, with lunch at Iowa’s oldest restaurant, Breitbach’s Country Dining, as we make our way back toward Des Moines, with a final stop at Prairie Meadows for dining and horse racing. Cost $150.00/person

Most meals will be provided, but please do plan on purchasing a few of the meals on your own.

Since we’re leaving early morning on Friday, August 11, it’s recommended you make a reservation at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport for Thursday, August 10. A block of rooms is held but participants should call (515) 287-2400 to reserve their own room before July 24. Ask for the NACAA Field of Dreams tour block. Rooms will be $100 + tax. If you fly into Des Moines, the hotel provides a shuttle. If you are driving, there will be a $20 fee to park your car during the tour.

On Friday evening, August 11 we will be staying at the Best Western Plus Hotel in Dubuque, IA ($139 + tax). You will be responsible for making your own lodging reservation
for this night. Please call the hotel directly at (563) 557-8000. Please tell them you are with NACAA (or National Association of County Agricultural Agents) to receive the
special group rate.

Please plan on being in Des Moines no later than 6:30 a.m on Friday – August 11.

Plan on beginning your conference lodging Saturday, August 12 at one of the conference hotels thru the normal registration process.

For more information please contact Larry Tranel at