Secretary Naig Presents Ag Leader Awards
for Outstanding Contributions to Iowa Agriculture

Agriculture in the Classroom, Central Iowa Shelter & Services, John Mortimer and Dr. John Lawrence honored at the 11th Annual Ag Leaders Dinner 

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 22, 2023) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig this week recognized organizations and individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the state’s agriculture community. Naig presented Ag Leader Awards to Agriculture in the Classroom, Central Iowa Shelter & Services, John Mortimer and Dr. John Lawrence at the 11th Annual Iowa Ag Leaders Dinner held at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny on March 21.

“The Ag Leader Award recognizes the inspiring individuals and outstanding organizations positively impacting all aspects of Iowa agriculture,” said Secretary Naig. “This year’s Ag Leader awardees have demonstrated tremendous leadership in many areas, including conservation, livestock production and promotion, agriculture education, workforce development and community betterment.”

2023 Iowa Ag Leader Awardees:

Leadership in Agriculture Education - Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC), which is part of a nationwide network, educates Iowa Pre-K through high school students about all aspects of agriculture. AITC presently works with approximately 3,000 teachers to reach nearly 150,000 Iowa students across hundreds of schools. Their important work seeks to inspire well educated students who understand agriculture and become the leaders of tomorrow.

Leadership in Community – Central Iowa Shelter and Services

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Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS) performs an essential role in our community by providing emergency shelter, food and other services to people facing homelessness. In addition, through its agri-hood, CISS is finding creative ways to educate and empower individuals by teaching them valuable life skills and giving them hope – all with a focus on agriculture. By providing education, training and opportunity, CISS is positively changing lives.

Outstanding Service in Agriculture – John Mortimer

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Nearly 40 years ago, John Mortimer had a vison for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters at the Iowa State Fair. He poured his time and energy into the restaurant, which quickly grew from one tent to a huge and iconic enterprise. John’s innovation, perseverance and leadership benefited many, including Iowa consumers and Iowa’s cattle farmers. As he retires from running the long-standing restaurant, John has left an indelible mark on the world’s greatest fair.

Outstanding Service in Agriculture – Dr. John Lawrence

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Dr. John Lawrence has held various leadership roles at Iowa State University over the past three decades. From teaching students and assisting beef producers to helping develop the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and serving as Vice President for Extension and Outreach, Dr. Lawrence’s dedication to Iowa agriculture and conservation is unmatched. As he retires this spring, he will long be remembered as one of the state’s most influential agriculture and conservation leaders.

The Ag Leaders Dinner is hosted and funded by the Iowa Economic Development Foundation.


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

Media Contact:
Don McDowell
Communications Director