Iowa Soybean Association Chief Executive Officer in Tru

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Executive Insights: Interact with ISA and thrive

July 19, 2022 | Kirk Leeds

Humans thrive on interaction. Instinctively, we know it. Studies and two-plus years of navigating through a pandemic prove it.

One of the most difficult and heartbreaking impacts of COVID-19 was the shuttering of family and friends and the displacement of co-workers. People became increasingly agitated and depressed as offices and schools closed, events were canceled and trips were postponed.

As a past Boone School Board member, my heart especially broke for youth who missed months of in-classroom instruction and peer engagement. The World Economic Forum reports that school closures worsened children’s health and safety and estimates their lifetime earnings will be reduced by an estimated $17 trillion.

Isolation is harmful. Communicating with others through screens and windows is a poor substitute for handshakes, hugs and face-to-face interaction. It’s little wonder, therefore, that travel, meetings and wedding, birthday and anniversary attendance has roared back as the pandemic wanes.

Those of us involved in agriculture thrive on engagement and a sense of belonging. A recent meeting of state and national soybean staff in Savannah, Georgia, and the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s trade summit in Barcelona, Spain, drew record attendance.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) places a premium on facilitating interaction with the farmers and customers we serve. Our nationally recognized research and demand-building activities thrive on nurturing relationships – from participation in on-farm production trials and field days to embarking on trade missions to China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, Egypt and Pakistan (to name just a few).

More recently, our Innovation to Profit Conference in February garnered strong attendance and positive feedback.

ISA is devoting increased time and attention to growing our farmer (checkoff) and advocate (non-checkoff) membership and engagement through District Advisory Councils.

And we’ve launched new and expanded programs, including the Communications Squad, Soy Squad and Policy Leaders Fellowship (the latter in cooperation with the Missouri Soybean Association). ISA’s District Summer Meetings are also attracting large crowds.

This edition of the Iowa Soybean Review highlights the value of belonging and opportunities to get involved with ISA (for a complete calendar of events, click on “Events” at

The timing is ideal as I sense a renewed need and desire to reengage. Perhaps now is the right time for you to get more involved in an industry that matters so much, both at home and abroad. Interact with ISA and thrive!