The Special Collections and University Archives Department is excited to announce that RS 9/1/5 Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture records have been processed and are open to researchers. The collection contains the administrative records from the Leopold Center including grant applications and reports from the center’s thirty year history. Types of materials include photographs, correspondence, grant reports and applications, annual reports, meeting minutes and agendas, notes, newsletters, and electronic media.
The Leopold Center, named after environmentalist Aldo Leopold, was established at Iowa State University in 1987 by the State of Iowa’s Groundwater Protection Act. The Leopold Center was originally charged with researching the negative impacts of Iowa’s agricultural practices, assisting in the development of alternative practices, and informing the public, in cooperation with ISU Extension, on the results of Leopold Center research. According to its 2002 vision statement, the Leopold Center “…explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation.” The Center’s goals “are to identify and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources as well as reducing negative environmental and social impacts.” In accordance with this new direction, the Leopold Center focused its research initiatives into three distinct areas: marketing and food systems, ecology, and policy. During its 30 year history, the Leopold Center also funded grant projects to help further the center’s research mission.
In 2017, the Iowa Legislature voted to de-fund and close the Leopold Center. Governor Terry Branstad used a line item veto to allow the center to remain open although it lost its primary funding source. Following a listening tour and discussion with an advisory board, the Center shifted their mission to focus on the education and research of alternative approaches and practices to promote resilient rural communities across Iowa.