Report from 2011 Spencer Award Presentation

Natvig2011 Spencer Award presented to two Iowans

Michael Natvig is one of only four people from his Class of 1983 in Cresco still farming, something that saddens this fifth-generation farmer.

“I go back to a saying found in a church in Essex that says those working with soil are the closest to God and I believe that,” Natvig said. “The soil makes them what they are, and it makes us who we are in Iowa because of our incredible soil.”

Natvig has added biodiversity to his family’s 450-acre farm, improved the soil and participated in several research projects. He was one of two people who received the 2011 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture March 1, 2012 during the Leopold Center Advisory Board meeting. Also honored was long-time ISU research farm superintendent Bernie Havlovic.

Havlovic“I have had the privilege of working with research farm associations in northern, southeastern and southwestern Iowa,” Havlovic told the board. “I believe that farmers everywhere share the Spencer’s core beliefs on land stewardship and sustainability. “These research associations were formed by innovative and hardworking farmers much like Norman, looking for ways to improve their farms and communities.”

The award honors Norman and Margaretha Spencer, who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years. Although not an ISU graduate, Norman Spencer maintained an active relationship with ISU’s College of Agriculture and several professors, encouraging them to conduct research on sustainable practices and family farming. The award was established in 2001 by an endowment from the Spencer family.

TOP photo: Michael Natvig and advisory board member Laura Jackson, a biology professor at the University of Northern Iowa.

BOTTOM photo: Bernie Havlovic (left) and Joe Colletti, advisory board member and senior associate dean at ISU.