“I think one of the most important things that modern farmers need to do is to reach out and discuss with people in town what we are doing for the environment,” Ausberger says. “The prevailing attitude is that farmers don’t understand or care about the environment. That’s not true.”

He promotes ag advocacy by offering to share his story, working with the Iowa Soybean Association’s Farm and Food Ambassador Team or simply talking with people he meets at a local grocery store. In August 2013, he hosted a white tablecloth dinner overlooking West Buttrick Creek. “We had a tent, and white tablecloths, and we had a chef prepare a beautiful dinner,” Ausberger says.

Nearly 40 guests, ranging from neighbors to city council members to state legislators, saw first-hand how a farmer can grow food while protecting the environment. They saw Ausberger’s 2.1-megawatt wind turbine, part of a locally developed wind farm that produces enough electricity to serve the town of Jefferson. And they learned that this farm, recognized as Tier III in the USDA-NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program, has a wildlife component on every tract.

“I think we farmers have a good story to tell, and we can do it,” Ausberger says. “We need to let people know that we are out here working for them, and working for the environment.”

Unlike West Buttrick Creek, conservation is a legacy that flows both forward and backward for the Ausberger family. “It is a way to preserve the land for my kids—or someone else’s kids—who may be farming it in the future,” he says. “The conservation legacy also is a way to honor Dad’s ideals and commitments. Whether my kids are walking this ground when they grow up, or they live a thousand miles away, I hope they do not have to worry about the air they breathe or the water they drink.”