Iowa State Teaching Farms Celebrate 50th Anniversary

By Maggie Jennett

It was a beautiful fall day for more than 270 people to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Iowa State University animal science teaching farms on Sept. 26. (See photos.

Animal science alumni, faculty and staff attended the celebration to share memories. The event was held at the ISU Beef, Sheep and Swine Teaching Farms south of Ames and included self-guided tours, lunch and presentations.

The teaching farms have helped the animal science program become one of the top programs in the world.

“It’s such an exciting and unique part of learning for our students here at Iowa State University,” said Ben Drescher, livestock farms manager for the Iowa State animal science department.

Students get hands-on experience in almost every stage of animal production. The farms employs 65 student workers and one full-time employee. More than 1,700 students attend 25 courses at the farm each semester. Tours are available all year for alumni, special groups and schools.

In 1965, the animal science department responded to its growing needs and moved the teaching farms away from central campus to an area south of Ames. The new locations allowed the managers to use available land to pasture animals and grow crops to support the livestock.

Fifty years later, the teaching farms continue be a place where faculty can conduct research and students can get hands-on learning experiences.

“The Department of Animal Science Teaching Farms are indispensable resources. They provide direct student contact and interactions with food animals, which is essential for integrating science, practice and innovation in their education and learning outcomes, so they can be successful in their careers and become leaders in meeting the challenges facing animal agriculture,” said Don Beermann, professor and chair of the animal science department.

The farms include areas for sheep, poultry, equine, swine, beef and dairy. 

“We are so thankful for the alumni, the college, the farms and the support we receive,” Drescher said, “We are looking forward to new and exciting changes for the farms in the future.”

For more information about the teaching farms at Iowa State, visit See photos from the event on Facebook