Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

For the Classroom

orange flowerMany of the grants funded by the Leopold Center focus on the science of sustainability and applied research and demonstration projects. However, education and outreach is an important component of sharing knowledge and technology, so sometimes grants result in resources that can be used in the classroom.

The following resources were developed by the Leopold Center, were the outcome of grants and special projects, or are available from our major partners.

Iowa Farm to School

The Farm to School network is a nationwide effort to connect schools and local farms. In Iowa, schools can contact Tammy Stotts and apply to become a chapter through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Find information, photographs, an interactive map and links to blogs and resources at Iowa Farm to School, a website funded by the Local Food and Farm Initiative. 

Iowa Learning Farms

The Leopold Center is a collaborating partner of the Iowa Learning Farms, which offers several publications with enhancement activities for students, meant to accompany the Culture of Conservation video series. Download both the publications and the videos on their website. You'll also find links to information about wetlands, water and soil. Check for scheduled appearances of the Conservation Station in your area. Also explore the Water Rocks! website, which offers games, videos, and other resources to educate Iowa youth about water. 

On the Ground with the Leopold Center

The Leopold Center has produced a series of short, online videos that explain research projects of the Center's Ecology Initiative. Researchers talk about sustainability and how their project contributes to it. Among the issues discussed in this series is the role that ecosystems have in production agriculture. Check them out.

A Geography of Taste

This 45-page report explores Iowa's unique food history that has been heavily influenced by the state's geography, history, and the culture and traditions of its inhabitants. Information about place-based foods, such as the Delicious apple, Muscatine melon, Maytag blue cheese are included, as well as numerous maps showing historical crops and production in various regions of Iowa. October 2004.

Organic Farming

This powerpoint presentation [PPT] explains the basics of organic agriculture, certification agencies in Iowa and resources for more information for high school students. Download the presentation handouts [PDF]. January 2009.

This publication, Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture provides a general overview of organic agriculture, published by Iowa State University Extension (PM 1880). May 2003.

Crops of Ancient Iowa

This fact sheet, Crops of Ancient Iowa: Native Plant Use and Farming Systems, is designed for a classroom discussion of prehistoric plant life in Iowa. Information is from a 1989 Leopold Center-funded archeological study that found seven primary plants used as crops in ancient Iowa. The goal was to identify prehistoric crops in order to better understand past agricultural practices and develop alternative cropping systems. Only one of the plants is still grown as a crop today; the rest are considered weeds. July 1995.

The Water Cycle

Download this free educational software to see animated illustrations of the water cycle. Ideal for classrooms and youth camps, the software can help students learn how clouds are formed, where rain goes after it falls, and how water moves underground. Download software by clicking here [file is 4 MB in size].

This program is suitable for Windows XP; it will not run on Windows 7.0, Vista or Mac computers. The animated software plays best on a display monitor that is capable of at least 16-bit color and a size of 800x800, and your sound should be turned on.

The Water Cycle Software was created for the ISU College of Agricutlure display on water resources in honor of the 1997 Year of Water in Iowa, an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. Further development for distrubution on the World Wide Web was funded by the Leopold Center. The program was created by Rex Heer and narrated by Robert Lindemeyer, ISU Instructional Technology Center.