Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture

Nominations for the 2016 award will be due in June 15, 2016.


2015 Award Recipients

Tom and Irene Frantzen are the 2015 recipients of the Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. The couple from New Hampton operate their organic crop and swine farm, becoming certified organic in 2001. Read more about the Frantzens in the Winter 2015 Leopold Letter.




Read about past recipients of the Spencer Award since 2002.

Norm and Marg

About the Spencer family

The Spencer Award honors the beliefs, innovations and stewardship of Norman and Margaretha Spencer, who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years. It serves as a lasting memorial to the Spencers, who believed that it is the obligation of each generation to leave the world a better and healtheir place for the next generation.

The award was established in 2001 by an endowment from the Spencer family, and is administered by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The 2015 award includes a $1,000 cash prize.

Read a tribute to Norm and Margaretha Spencer [PDF].


Nominee eligibility and submission

Anyone who has made significant contributions to the advancement of ecological and economic practices that will make agriculture sustainable and the family farm secure for the future. This can include individuals, agricultural organizations, researchers, or educators. The contributions must have broader implications for the resilience of Iowa agriculture—extending the nominee’s reach beyond the lab, classroom or individual farm.

You may apply for the Spencer Award or be nominated by others. Agricultural organizations are strongly encouraged to submit nominations to highlight the achievements of their members.

Nominees must have:

  • Made a significant contribution that will affect, influence and/or advance the ecological and economic stability of mainstream family farms in the state of Iowa
  • A record of accomplishment in research, technical or practical advancement or education
  • A long-standing commitment to the sustainability of mainstream family farms.

Complete the Nomination Form and return it to the Leopold Center with two letters of supportNominations must be received by June 15, 2016.

Nomination form [PDF]

Submit nominations to: Mary Adams, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 209 Curtiss Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1050; e-mail (with Spencer Award nom as subject line): madams@iastate.edu