Land Stewardship Leadership Academy

Logo with half circle and text saying Land Stewardship Leadership AcademyThe Land Stewardship Leadership Academy is a professional development program for early to mid-career natural resource professionals who work with private landowners to implement water and wildlife conservation practices. The program seeks to expand competencies in the dimensions of agriculture in Iowa, public trust responsibilities and resource stewardship, and the science of compelling behavior change. The goal of the program is to help participants build cooperative, trusting, and empathetic relationships with farmers that ultimately compel conservation adoption that addresses societally critical outcomes related to environmental stewardship while balancing farm profitability and resiliency.

The 9-month program takes a small cohort of learners through a series of online lessons, group discussions, in-person learning and networking events that explore agriculture and land stewardship in Iowa. Detailed lessons by university educators, small group discussions, and interactions with farmers help participants better understand the complex landscape in which land stewardship plays out in privately owned farmlands.

The curriculum focuses on three interconnected themes:

  1. Agriculture in Iowa, including the history of agriculture in the state, the demographics and motivations of farmers and landowners, and the intricacies of running functional farming operations.
  2. Challenges facing water and wildlife on agricultural lands and the opportunities to conserve these resources.
  3. The science and practice of leadership development and communication to compel behavior change, with a focus on how this applies to conservation on agricultural land. 

In addition to gaining skills and knowledge in these three topic areas, participants also have the opportunity to build connections with other conservation professionals and conservation-minded farmers in the state throughout the course ultimately expanding their professional network.

Eligibility and Enrollment

Who should enroll in the Land Stewardship Leadership Academy? Applicants should consider the questions below before applying to the program. The application can be accessed below.

Are you:

  1. A professional who helps people implement water quality and wildlife conservation practices on private agricultural land in Iowa?
  2. Just starting your career or recently becoming established with less than 10 years of experience? 
  3. Interested in learning more about agriculture in Iowa and understanding the perspectives of agricultural producers?
  4. Curious about effective ways to conserve water quality and wildlife on working lands?
  5. Eager to learn how to motivate behavior change and build trusting, engaged relationships with agricultural producers?
  6. Seeking connections with other professionals who do similar work in Iowa?
  7. Open-minded about learning new ways of thinking and doing the important work that helps protect Iowa's land, water, and wildlife while supporting agricultural production in Iowa.

Do you have time to:

  1. Dedicate at least one hour per week for the 9-month period to online asynchronous learning and synchronous discussion sessions with instructors and farmers? Synchronous discussions will be arranged with the class and occur roughly every two weeks.
  2. Travel to central Iowa for three two-day networking and field tour events. These sessions will be arranged based on cohort availability and are roughly expected to occur in May, July, and September. All expenses, except for travel to the event, will be covered through scholarships.

2022 Cohort Ongoing Now

The inaugural cohort of the Land Stewardship Leadership Academy in 2022 comprises professionals in a diversity of disciplines, agencies, or other entities involved in land stewardship on private agricultural lands in Iowa.

Future Cohorts

Future cohorts of the Land Stewardship Leadership Academy are expected to be recruited in December of each year and convened for the 9-month program in January. Contact us for more information on the application process or check back here around November and December of each year.


Questions about the program can be directed to Adam Janke or Julia Baker.