Meet the new Practical Farmers of Iowa executive committee

For Release: March 4, 2016

Board members are among more than 450 PFI members serving in a leadership role

AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa’s board of directors has appointed a new roster of farmers and non-farmers to serve on the board’s executive committee. Members who serve on this committee – which includes the positions of board president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer – play a key role in the organization by helping to steer the direction of Practical Farmers programming and funding.

The committee members represent different regions of Iowa and include: Mark Peterson, a farmer from Stanton, who is the new Practical Farmers board president; Wendy Johnson (vice-president), farmer from Charles City; Ann Franzenburg (secretary), farmer from Van Horne; and Gail Hickenbottom (treasurer), a non-farmer member from West Des Moines.

These individuals are among the hundreds of Practical Farmers of Iowa members who serve in leadership roles within the organization. In 2015, more than 450 members served in a leadership capacity, working in ways as diverse as hosting field days, conducting on-farm research, speaking with the media, serving on committees, volunteering at events, mentoring beginning farmers – and more.

This breadth of engagement reflects the degree to which Practical Farmers members actively work on behalf of Practical Farmers’ mission to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing, and its values of welcoming everyone, stewarding the land and environment, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and creating viable farms now and into the future.

“I am pleased to be elected as the next board president,” Mark says. “I consider it a great honor and responsibility to become part of the heritage of outstanding leadership Practical Farmers has had over the last 30-plus years that our organization has been a part of the agriculture community.”

Mark and his wife, Melanie, operate Bent Gate Farm near Stanton, raising row crops on about 300 acres and integrating cover crops to help safeguard soil and water health.

Wendy Johnson raises row crops and pastured chicken, lamb, eggs and pork at Joia Food Farm, near Charles City. Ann and her husband, Eric, operate Pheasant Run Farm growing corn, soybeans, hogs, vegetables, cut flowers, berries and medicinal herbs. Gail Hickenbottom is a non-farmer from West Des Moines with interest in and knowledge of Iowa agriculture who has been a long-time supporter of Practical Farmers of Iowa.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit



Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |