Iowa Conservation Leaders Recognized at Agribusiness Showcase

Individuals and businesses honored with Leader in Conservation Awards

DES MOINES, Iowa (Feb. 15, 2023) –Recipients of the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture’s Leader in Conservation Awards were announced today during the Agribusiness Showcase and Conference in Des Moines. The Ag Leader Awards are presented by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig to individuals and organizations that make exceptional contributions to Iowa agriculture.

“Iowa is blessed to have many talented people working to accelerate our water quality work in Iowa and I am proud to present these deserving Iowans with the Leader in Conservation Award. These honorees are great advocates for soil conservation and water quality and have become trusted partners who work with farmers and landowners to implement conservation practices that fit their farms,” said Secretary Naig. “As we continue to scale up our statewide conservation and water quality efforts, these individuals and businesses demonstrate how the public and private sectors can work together to make progress toward our Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.”


The Waterhouse Family, Waterhouse Construction
Secretary’s Ag Leader Award - Leader in Conservation

Since 1963, James Waterhouse Construction has devoted its mission to advancing soil conservation and water management needs for landowners and farmers in and around Keokuk and Washington Counties. Jim and his wife, Berna, owned and operated their company for more than 58 years, building a legacy for their family. The company has installed terraces, waterways, wetlands, water management systems, and the first bioreactor in Washington County. The company has contributed to the success of the West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality Initiative Project. They have a long track record of partnering with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as well as 71 landowners in the Lake Darling Watershed project that spanned 30 years. Through this work, Waterhouse Construction has played a key role in renovating and building 162 structural projects draining 12,500 acres to improve the longevity and water quality of the state park and its resources. Now 60 years later, Jim and Berna’s sons, Jamey and Justin, continue the family tradition and passion for conservation.


Chase and Jess Weller, Weller Seed Supply
Secretary’s Ag Leader Award - Leader in Conservation

Weller Seed Supply is a Taylor County family seed business located in Sharpsburg. This husband-and-wife duo provides a wide variety of seed including corn, soybeans, pasture forage, hay and cover crops to farmers and landowners in Taylor County and the surrounding area. In addition, Chase and Jess and their three children advocate for soil health practices, cover crops, livestock practices, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other state and federal conservation programs. Due, in large part, to the efforts of Weller Seed Supply, Taylor County has increased cover crops as well as pasture and hayland acres. In recent years, Chase has arranged aerial application from nearby airports, reducing barriers for farmers to utilize cover crops. As a respected corn, soybean and livestock producer, Chase successfully assists farmers to connect with their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to utilize local, state and federal programs that advance conservation efforts in the area.


Mollie Aronowitz, Peoples Company
Secretary’s Ag Leader Award - Leader in Conservation

Mollie Aronowitz is the Sustainability Director and Land Manager for Peoples Company based in Clive. Her role allows her to work with farmers and landowners to advance conservation efforts and manage properties to maximize production and profitability while also improving the land’s resources and value. Recently, Mollie provided leadership for a collaborative effort involving her landowner client, the tenant, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and others to install several edge-of-field practices. Mollie coordinated all elements of the installation as well as a construction field day showcasing the project to other landowners and farmers in the area.


Paul Mausser, Agri-Partners Farm Management
Secretary’s Ag Leader Award - Leader in Conservation

Paul Mausser is a Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) for Agri-Partners Farm Management, based in Dubuque County. In addition to agronomic services, he also advises farmers and landowners on conservation practices as a technical service provider through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Paul has been a long-time local leader in his community in both agricultural and civic leadership roles. He also leads by example in his own farming operation, sharing his experiences to help neighbors navigate the steps of implementing new practices.


Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Soil Conservation and Water Quality Division Director Susan Kozak presented the awards on behalf of Secretary Naig, who could not attend due to a scheduling conflict. Kozak thanked the awardees for their efforts to help advance the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

To learn more about the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s soil health and water quality programs, visit


About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at

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