Past Recipients of the Spencer Award

2022: Mark Quee 












2019:  Paul Mugge

Mark Quee (left) receiving Spencer Award from Leopold Center Interim Director Stephen Dinsmore.

Mark Quee (left) receiving Spencer Award from Leopold Center Interim Director Stephen Dinsmore at the 2022 Iowa Water Center Conference in Dubuque.


Couple with trees behind them

Paul Mugge and wife Karen with the 2019 Spencer Award plaque. (Due to the pandemic, an in-person award presentation could not be held.) 

2018:  Paul Johnson and Seth Watkins

Johnson accepts award

From left:  Center Director Mark Rasmussen, Paul Johnson and Elaine Spencer, a member of the family that funded the award.

Watkins accepts award

From left:  Seth Watkins, Spencer and Rasmussen.


2016: David and Corrine Williams & Tom Kaspar 

Williams award

David and Corrine Williams, pictured with Elaine Spencer (center), own a six-generation heritage farm near Villisca and have been farming for 60 years. They practice no-till, installed terraces, and are using cover crops.

Kaspar with award plaque

Kaspar, pictured with board member Gail Hickenbottom (left), is a soil scientist with the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames. He has been researching cover crops since 1990. The awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony on March 22, 2017 at the Iowa Water Conference, Ames. ​


2015: Tom and Irene Frantzen


Organic farmer Tom Frantzen (center) accepted the Spencer Award from presenter Jody Kerns and Leopold Center Director Mark Rasmussen. The Frantzens have operated their family farm since 1976 and transitioned to organic in the 1990s. The couple are leaders in the organic hog production industry. They also plan to leave their land to Practical Farmers of Iowa. Their will states that the land will continue to be farmed sustainably.

2014: Steve Berger & Leigh Adcock

Southeast Iowa farmer Steve Berger (center left) and outgoing director of Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) Leigh Adcock (center right) received the award on March 2, 2015, at the Iowa Water Conference. Leopold Center Board member Bill Ehm, (left), presented the award along with Center Director Mark Rasmussen (right).

2013: Matt Liebman

Iowa State agronomy professor Matt Liebman received the Spencer Award Dec. 5, 2013, at the quarterly meeting of the Leopold Center Advisory Board. Elaine Spencer (right), who set up the award to honor her parents, presented the award, along with board member and farmer Jennifer Steffen and Leopold Center director Mark Rasmussen. Liebman also holds the Henry A. Wallace Chair of Sustainable Agriculture at ISU.

2012: Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf

Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf with Mark Rasmussen and Laura Jackson

Northern Iowa CSA growers Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf received the award Jan. 11, 2013, during the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference. Leopold Center advisory board member Laura Jackson (right) presented the award, along with Center director Mark Rasmussen (left).

2011: Bernard Havlovic and Michael Natvig

2011 awardees and presenters

ISU Research Farm superintendent Bernie Havlovic (center) and fifth-generation farmer Michael Natvig (second from right) receive the award at the board's March 1 meeting. They join advisory board members Laura Jackson (right) and Joe Colletti (left) and interim director Mark Honeyman (back left).

2010: Vic and Cindy Madsen

Cindy and Vic Madsen, and Leopold Center advisory board member Susan Jutz.

2009: Francis and Susan Thicke

Francis and Susan Thicke and Jennifer Steffen

Francis and Susan Thicke, whose Radiance Farm organic dairy products are marketed in Jefferson County, receive the award from Leopold Center advisory board member Jennifer Steffen, right.

2008: Steven Reinart

Russ Brandes and Steve Reinart

Russ Brandes (left) presents the award to Steven Reinart. He owns a grass-fed organic beef and seedstock operation near Glidden, where he relies entirely on grazing and forages for his cattle’s nourishment. 

2007: Laura Krouse

Laura Krouse, center, with Laura Jackson and Susan Jutz

Laura Krouse owns and operates a 72-acre farm in Linn County near Mount Vernon, teaches biology full-time at Cornell College, and runs a Community Supported Agriculture enterprise. Laura Jackson (left) and Susan Jutz (right) present the award to Krouse.

2006: The Rosmann Family

2006 Spencer Award

Ron Rosmann and Maria Vakulska Rosmann and their sons David, Daniel and Mark operate a 600-acre, diversified organic farm near Harlan in Shelby County. They have been leaders in sustainable agriculture at state, regional and national levels. The family receives the award from Jerry DeWitt (left).

2005: Jerry DeWitt

2005 Spencer award

Jerry DeWitt is an Iowa State University professor whose 30-year commitment to sustainable agriculture ranges from the science of pest management to the art of photography to the administrative wisdom to encourage ISU to establish the nation's first tenured organic agriculture faculty position. He is on the right with Elaine and Bob Spencer.

2004: Dick and Sharon Thompson

2004 spencer award

Dick and Sharon Thompson (center) receive the award from Leopold Center Associate Director Mike Duffy (left) and Advisory Board Chair Marvin Shirley (right). The Thompsons own and operate a 300-acre diverse crop and livestock farm in eastern Boone County. In 1985, they were instrumental in forming Practical Farmers of Iowa.

2003: David, Diane and Dresden Petty

2003 Spencer award

The Pettys own and operate the Iowa River Ranch along the Iowa River in Hardin County.

2002: David and Amy Petersen

2002 Spencer award

The Petersons own and operate a dairy farm near Blue Grass, Iowa. They pose for a photo with Bob Spencer, Mike Duffy, Jim Penney, and their two children, Dana and Nolan.