Professor Linda Barnes honored in Washington, DC
It’s not every day that an ordinary Iowa citizen is honored in the nation’s capitol AND has an opportunity to impact national farm policy. But one can certainly make the case that Dr. Linda Barnes, biology professor at Marshalltown Community College and organic farmer, is anything but ordinary. She recently described the experiences of this summer in Washington, DC, as “a huge privilege and a great experience.”
According to the White House Champions of Change website, all across the country, ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-education and out-build the rest of the world. Every week, the White House invites these Champions of Change to share their ideas for winning the future. Dr. Barnes was in DC in early July as one of the Champions of Change honorees representing rural America. She had an opportunity to tour the White House, meet with chief administration policy advisors and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (she was able to spend two hours discussing farm policy, how the USDA might better serve rural communities, and related issues), and meet President Barack Obama.
In sharing her experiences with the Iowa Valley Community College District Board of Directors at their recent monthly meeting, Dr. Barnes said the whole experience began last year when a farmer discussion group asked her to speak with HBO for a four-part series on obesity and farm policy. She then presented her science-based research to the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academy of Sciences last May, focusing on “Barriers to Growing Nutritionally Appropriate Crops in the U.S.” Dr. Barnes said one of her main points of concern continues to be that crop insurance is a farm policy barrier to growing crops for human consumption in this country. She said the criticism has hit a nerve, which she hopes will ultimately result in policy changes at the federal level. The HBO series is expected to air in 2012.
Dr. Barnes is now featured on the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions/rural-america/linda-barnes. She and her husband, Mark Runquist, own a rural Melbourne farmstead and seven acres where, with their children, they grow crops including berries, flowers, livestock, and vegetables. Dr. Barnes blogs about the farmstead at highhopesgardens.com.
PHOTO CAPTION – Dr. Linda Barnes, biology professor at Marshalltown Community College, is pictured in Washington, DC, where she was recognized this summer as a “Champion of Change” at the White House.