Veteran conservationist and fourth-generation Iowa row-crop farmer Ryan Heiniger has joined the Trust In Food™ team in the new role of America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM) director. Before joining Trust In Food™, Heiniger served for eight years as a leader at Pheasants Forever, most recently as director of agriculture and director of operations for the organization’s North Region. He previously spent 15 years at Ducks Unlimited and holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from Iowa State University.
“Ryan is truly a one-of-a-kind leader for this exciting new position,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, executive vice president, Trust In Food. “His deep roots and dirty boots in agriculture include working his own family’s corn and soybean fields and serving as a trusted adviser to farmers seeking economically viable ways to integrate voluntary conservation practices into their operations. Those unique experiences, paired with Ryan’s passion for forging win-win partnerships that advance the best interests of the American producer, make him an exceptional fit. We are really looking forward to leveraging Ryan’s passion and strategic thinking as the ACAM program experiences tremendous growth and doubles down on its commitment to state-level farmer support.”
In his new senior leadership role at Trust In Food, Heiniger will have responsibility for managing and directing all aspects of ACAM’s state and local projects, including a growing portfolio of farmer-led learning communities and multi-stakeholder coalitions. He will continue strengthening ACAM’s relationships across the states and regions where it has boots on the ground—including in California, Idaho, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Maryland—while regularly folding in new stakeholders and identifying how to put their expertise, programs and resources in front of producers whose businesses can benefit from their knowledge and tools.
We asked Ryan to share what he most looks forward to in this role and how his experience as a producer will guide his vision for the program.
What aspect of America’s Conservation Ag Movement are you most excited to be involved in?
Honestly, it is difficult to single out one element of America’s Conservation Ag Movement, but the diversity and strength of the growing partnership is something that definitely excites me. To accelerate voluntary conservation practice adoption, we know that no one organization or agency can accomplish this. But through a coordinated and strategic approach and a farmer-first philosophy, we will make substantial progress in the coming months and years.
How has your background and experience prepared you for this new role as ACAM Director?
First and foremost, the tractor-seat perspective I will bring as a fourth-generation farmer will be invaluable, since ultimately the programs offered through America’s Conservation Ag Movement need to be adaptable for local needs and opportunities. Additionally, having spent the last 20-plus years working in the conservation sector, I have a deep appreciation for what it takes to identify, assemble and deliver resources to assist farmers and ranchers in achieving their conservation goals.
How will your farming and conservation experience inform your approach to strengthening ACAM with the state-specific work we’re doing with farmers, ranchers and growers?
I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to live and work in different landscapes, so understanding that programs and solutions can’t be one-size-fits-all is paramount. One of the goals I have is to help be a conduit for new and innovative ideas to further increase adoption and success. This is an exciting time for ag sustainability, and being able to be a small part of it with a lot of entrepreneurial individuals and companies will be very rewarding.
To contact Ryan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.