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Kellogg couple applauded for agricultural advocacy

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Kevin and Julie Van Manen have been awarded the 2019 ISA Advocate for Iowa Agriculture Award for their outstanding work telling the story of modern Iowa agriculture. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Lauren Houska, ISA communications specialist


The Advocate for Iowa Agriculture Award, presented by Bayer CropScience, was awarded to Kevin and Julie Van Manen of Kellogg on Dec. 13 in Ankeny for their support and efforts in telling the story of modern agriculture.

Passionate about telling agriculture’s story, they raise soybeans, corn, cows and hogs on their Jasper County farm, which has been in the family since 1927.

Though not ones to seek the spotlight, the couple is always eager to help the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) facilitate media requests. They have been featured in TV spots for various agricultural promotions, including work with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.

Kevin and Julie also routinely open their farm for tours and are actively involved in the Iowa Food and Family Project (Iowa FFP).

“We welcome a wide range of consumers to our farm through various programs and host field trips for hundreds of students each year,” said Julie.

Their advocacy extends beyond the state of Iowa as well. They hosted a family from New Jersey in 2014 through the Iowa FFP “It Starts in Iowa” campaign. They have also hosted veterinarians and other groups from various countries, as well as a group of educators working with the Global Youth Institute through the World Food Prize.

As a teacher, Julie brought the farm into the classroom on a regular basis to ensure students receive an agricultural education. She now works with the Iowa Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom program and has volunteered with CommonGround™ Iowa since 2013.

Married for nearly 31 years, the couple instilled the same passion for agriculture in both of their children.

“We are proud that our children, Jacob and Emily, chose careers in agriculture and have become great ambassadors for the industry.” Jacob farms with his parents and Emily is an ag teacher and FFA advisor. Jacob and Emily also operate a sweet corn business and take advantage of opportunities to advocate for Iowa agriculture.

Katie Johnson, ISA public relations manager, contributed to this report. 

Contact Lauren at lhouska@iasoybeans.comContact Katie at

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.

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