Home Law School News Using land and natural resources to revitalize rural Iowa

Using land and natural resources to revitalize rural Iowa

Artwork by Bobbie McKibbin shows Iowa agriculture -- field of corn.
“Young Corn” by artist Bobbie McKibbin focuses on Iowa agriculture for the “Rural Lands Rural Livelihoods Art Show.”

The Drake University Law School will kick off the 25th anniversary celebration of its Agricultural Law Center with “Rural Lands Rural Livelihoods: Using Land and Natural Resources to Revitalize Rural Iowa,” a conference and art show beginning Thursday, Sept. 20.

Organized by the center in cooperation with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development in Iowa, with funding from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the conference events will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, and Friday, Sept. 21, in Drake’s Olmsted Center.

The two-day conference will focus on the role of Iowa’s land as the basis for rural development and new economic enterprises. Speakers will discuss a range of new ventures underway in Iowa and discuss the motivations of landowners who view Iowa’s land as the basis for new forms of rural vitality.

“The conference will examine various methods of managing, using and enjoying rural lands to enhance natural amenities,” said Neil Hamilton, professor of law, director of the center and conference organizer. “Collectively these amenity-based activities represent a significant development and opportunity for rural residents and all Iowans. Our state is fortunate to have a wide range of public and private organizations working to expand the existence and enjoyment of natural resources and rural landscapes.”

The center is sponsoring the “Rural Land Rural Livelihoods All Iowa Art Show,” in conjunction with the conference. The show will open with a reception from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, in the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center.

The exhibit will continue through Wednesday, Oct. 17. Gallery hours are 8:30-4 p.m. from Monday through Friday at the Drake Law School Neal and Bea Smith Law Center.

The juried art show will feature the work of local professional and amateur Iowa artists and explore the role of art in rural America. More than 30 artists submitted 80 pieces of artwork in categories addressing rural land and life, including restoration of native prairies, wineries, raising food for direct marketing, using land for hunting and recreation, wildlife, and natural landscapes.

Ignatius Widiapradja, Drake associate professor of art and owner of Padma Gallery in Des Moines, and Lea Rosson DeLong, art historian and curator, will judge the competition and winners will be awarded cash prizes totaling $1,200.

Conference keynote speakers include Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Mike Tramontina, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development; Mark Reisinger, executive director of USDA Rural Development; Jerry DeWitt, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Cost for the conference is $75 per person before Sept. 14 and $90 per person after Sept. 14, which includes the conference and all meals.