In mid-January, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced several employees who would be serving in leadership positions at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Among those employees was a woman who has ties to the eastern Story County area.

Julie Kenney, 37, who joined the Iowa Department of Ag in March 2018, is the current deputy secretary under Naig. Julie and her husband Mark — a 1998 graduate of Colo-NESCO High School — are still active on the Kenney family farm, located between Nevada and McCallsburg. The couple, with their two children — Lauren, 10, and Landon, 7 — live in Polk County.

Kenney said she’s the fifth generation in her family to farm, growing up on one outside of Lohrville. “I have spent my entire life and career involved in agriculture.”

A graduate of Southern Calhoun High School in Lake City, Kenney earned a degree in marketing from Simpson College. She’s now using that marketing education in a job that she loves involving agriculture.

In her full-time position as deputy secretary of the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, Kenney said her job entails working with Naig to oversee the budget, policy and personnel of the department.

She also gets to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and travel the state representing Naig, and that’s rewarding to her, because, she said, “I believe in the mission of the department.” She noted that mission is to “manage land stewardship and agriculture programs for the benefit of both city and rural Iowa residents.”

Kenney said she supports the direction Naig is taking the department. “We will continue to focus on expanding markets for Iowa products, including focusing on our trade relationships with markets such as China, Canada, Mexico, the EU, Japan and other important markets. I strongly support Secretary Naig’s focus on expanding markets for Iowa products, protecting and conserving our natural resources, and supporting the workforce and next generation of Iowans involved in agriculture.”

In addition, Kenney said the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship supports value-added agriculture, including renewable fuels and animal agriculture.

“We know that our economy is dependent on agriculture and agriculture is dependent upon our natural resources. As a result, we are laser-focused on soil conservation and water quality,” she said.

Finally, Kenney noted, the department is focused on the future when it comes to workforce and preparing the next generation of Iowans to work in agriculture.

As Naig appointed Julie Kenney to her leadership position, he also announced the appointments of Steve Moline as division director, Consumer Protection and Industry Services; Food Safety and Animal Health; Bernardo Granwehr as division director, Administration; Susan Kozak, acting division director, Soil Conservation and Water Quality; Maison Bleam, federal liaison and policy advisor; Jake Swanson, legislative liaison; Lexi Marek, executive assistant to Naig; Dr. Jeff Kaisand, acting state veterinarian; Dr. Justin Glisan, state climatologist; Robin Pruisner, state entomologist and Paul Ovrom, state horticulturist.

“I am confident in the team that I have begun to assemble at the department,” said Naig. “These individuals will put their passion and expertise to work to help move Iowa agriculture forward. Our team is focused on advancing the mission of the department and ensuring that serving Iowans is at the forefront of our work every day.”

Kenney is proud to be on Naig’s team. “It’s an honor to work with Secretary Naig and serve Iowans in this role. Agriculture and farming have been at the heart of my family for generations, and I’m thrilled to work with farmers, agribusinesses and all Iowans to focus on the future of Iowa agriculture.”