Iowa Ideas
Iowa Ideas

To provide a nonpartisan, statewide learning experience

designed to explore the key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Iowa.

What is Iowa Ideas?

Launched in 2017, Iowa Ideas commits to providing readers a variety of ways to stay current on the latest issues impacting the state. From solution-based articles to the annual conference, Iowa Ideas considers all perspectives and invites all voices to be heard. Join in the Iowa Ideas experience by exploring this website, subscribing to the magazine, and attending the October 2019 conference.


    From lawmakers to landowners, a look at the future of agriculture and Iowa's role as a future leader for the industry.

    What's Trending

    • Emerging technologies, changing demographics and environmental challenges are among topics within the 2019 Agriculture track. Varying perspectives - from lawmakers to landowners - will be balanced with discussion on Iowa's overall position when considering the future of agriculture.
    • Diversity of Agriculture. The classic methods in process, management and overall strategy continue to change as demographics and economic factors unfold. Does Iowa embrace diversity in agriculture?
    • Iowa's Competitive Edge? A discussion on the positioning of Iowa as a continued leader in agriculture and potential threats that could compromise status.
    • Environmental Impact in Agriculture. Analysis on the impact of changing weather patterns and the effect on planting season, harvest and market.

    Effective neighborhoods, welcoming communities and health care to the underserved are a few topic highlights within the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019.

    sponsored by Inclusive ICR

    What's Trending

    • This track was first introduced at the Iowa Ideas 2018 conference in collaboration with organizers of the annual Diversity Forum - an annual gathering designed to gather employers and employees to discuss the elements in effective regional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion concepts and practices. Members of Inclusive ICR ( continue to work with event organizers to encourage DE&I experiences, including unique networking and idea sharing throughout the Iowa Ideas conference.
    • Health Care Barriers and Disparities. How do underserved populations overcome health care challenges? What can Iowa do to provide necessary resources for all?
    • Welcoming Diverse Populations. How are immigrant and refugee populations navigating through their new Iowa communities? Who is working on their needs to ensure success?
    • Elements of an Effective Neighborhood. How can aesthetics influence bias and inclusivity when it comes to impressive or unimpressive neighborhoods?

    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council


    Workplace connections, mental health in schools and project-based learning are among session topics within the Education track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019. One of eleven conference themes, the Education track has been a consistent part of the Iowa Ideas initiative since the project launch in 2016.

    What's Trending

    • Project-Based Learning. Iowa's in person project based learning has been growing and getting national attention, as programs like Iowa BIG, APEX and others provide real-life experience with businesses. What are the successes and how can these programs be scaled to reach more students?
    • Apprenticeships, Intermediaries and iJAG. Exposing students to Iowa's industries and businesses is a major piece of many curriculum and workforce conversations. A look at the economic benefits and what's needed from student administrators and business engagement to drive these opportunities forward.
    • Mental Health in Schools. How can the state's new mental health program impact the delivery of services in schools? How are assessment, diagnosis and treatment handled?

    Education Advisory Council


    Changing landscape, demonstrated water quality progress and carbon reduction are among session topics within the Energy & Environment track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019. One of eleven conference themes, the Energy & Environment track has been a consistent part of the Iowa Ideas initiative since the project launch in 2016.

    What's Trending

    • Path to Water Quality Reform. As Iowa strives for future water wins, surrounding states have demonstrated impressive achievements in water quality reform. Hear from neighboring states that have achieved water quality goals through a variety of anticipated and surprise experiences along the way.
    • The Changing Landscape of Iowa Energy. The growth of renewable energy, specifically wind and solar energy, is having a drastic effect on the energy landscape within Iowa. How will progress impact private and public use?
    • Reducing Our Carbon Footprint. Increased conversation about biofuels and electric over ethanol has motivated Iowa to reduce its carbon footprint. How is the transition going and what additional steps are needed for progress?

    Energy & Environment Advisory Council


    Medicaid, employment and holistic care are among session topics within the Health Care track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019. Addressing a broad spectrum of issues related to Health Care and the industry. The Health Care track has been a consistent part of the Iowa Ideas initiative since the project launch in 2016.

    What's Trending

    • Medicaid in Iowa Over 600,000 Iowans are currently in the Medicaid program. What kind of impact will the departure of United Healthcare have on members? What happens when Iowa Total Care launches in July?
    • Strengthening the Health Care Workforce The demand is clear, but the resources are scarce. Nursing, mental and other health care professionals continue to struggle to find strong academic and career pathways in Iowa. How do we overcome?
    • Treating the Whole Self How do we integrate the best in conventional medicine with natural and mind-body therapies? Addressing the simple but challenging concept of a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.

    Health Care Advisory Council


    Children's mental health, substance abuse along with poverty and risk are among topics positioned for the 2019 Iowa Ideas' Human and Social Services track.

    What's Trending

    • The Human & Social Services track joined the Iowa Ideas schedule in year two as Iowans expressed interest in discussions on caring for and understanding the service needs of Iowa's various communities. This track is dedicated to addressing key issues, affected populations, resource access, advocacy roles and more.
    • Substance Abuse in Iowa Opioid abuse has gotten national attention, but meth, vaping and prescription drug abuse remain major concerns in Iowa. Are prevention efforts working?
    • Breaking the Cycle What societal, economic and environmental factors are ensnaring Iowans in cycles of poverty and risk? What do we gain by breaking them?
    • Children's Mental Health As Iowa takes its first steps developing a children's mental health system, what will help ensure success?

    Human & Social Services Advisory Council


    Design, cargo and vehicle systems are among session topics within the Infrastructure track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019. The Infrastructure track will debut at the 2019 Iowa Ideas conference, with a dedicated focus to the structures, facilities and frameworks of Iowa's operational systems.

    What's Trending

    • Cargo Growth. Iowa's location makes the state a key player in cargo, but shifts in consumer habits are changing the system. What economic opportunities are on the line and what challenges are ahead? A panel of air, rail and freight experts will weigh in.
    • Electric Vehicles / Electrification of Transportation. Electric and alternative fuel vehicles may mean better fuel mileage for users, but there's also a challenge to transportation funding. How do you balance these and build out the infrastructure needed for the future of transportation?
    • Severe Weather & Infrastructure Design. Flooding and other severe weather has led to changes in the way roads, rail and other infrastructure is designed. How is this impacting the design of Iowa's communities and are we doing enough?

    Infrastructure Advisory Council


    Future Ready Iowa, the impact of an Iowa caucus and youth topics are featured sessions within the Policy track of the Iowa Ideas conference 2019.

    What's Trending

    • Conference staff and advisory councils have been critical in policy discussion and review of the topics within the eleven Iowa Ideas tracks. The Policy track invites deep conversation on strategy and process along a variety of state issues.
    • Future Ready Iowa. With more funding and workforce challenges still facing the state, we'll continue the conversation from 2018 keynote with Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise and Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend.
    • Iowa Caucuses 2020. Iowa's spot on the international political stage will have significant changes this election cycle. We'll look at how they'll impact the event and discuss the importance and challenges of keeping Iowa's first in the nation status.
    • Keeping Iowa's Kids Safe. School violence and the vaccination debate have repeatedly drawn national headlines in 2019. The panel will look at the emotional and financial costs and impact on this generation of our kids.

    Policy Advisory Council


    The benefit of local champions, rural progress and why entrepreneurs choose Iowa are just a few of the sessions planned for the Regional Development track within the Iowa Ideas conference. This track is designed to address the elements of effective neighborhoods and community connectivity.

    What's Trending

    • Empower Rural Iowa. The Empower Rural Iowa Initiative was called together in late 2018 to help address investment, leadership, broadband and growth in rural Iowa. What expectations should we have and what progress has occurred?
    • Engaging Local Champions. A strong advocate for local projects and initiatives can make all the difference. How do you find strong and diverse collaborators? How do you engage and support them once you've found them?
    • Attracting Entrepreneurs. A panel of entrepreneurs will share why they've built in Iowa, the potential they see, and what communities can do to foster more growth.

    Regional Development Advisory Council


    The Workforce track has been a consistent part of the Iowa Ideas initiative since the project launch in 2016. Topics such as recruitment and retention have paved way for magazine content and conference sessions while engaging various industries willing to share their stories of challenges and best practice.

    What's Trending

    • Manufacturing Workforce Challenges. Iowa's manufacturing sector is a key piece of the state's economy, but the skills needed in these jobs are changing significantly and employment remains tight. What are manufacturers doing to attract people to these jobs?
    • Apprenticeships & Skills Based Learning. Apprenticeship and skill-based learning programs emphasizing on-the-job internships, job shadows and skill building are getting major attention. What makes these programs so important to the state's economic future?
    • Beyond a Paycheck. Intangibles like community amenities, day care, housing and unique benefits can play a big role in attracting employees. What unique offerings have companies and communities come up with for employees that go beyond PTO and health care?



    Health care plans, civic engagement and mental health are a few topic highlights of the Young Professional track within the Iowa Ideas conference 2019.

    What's Trending

    • The Young Professional (YP) track was introduced at the Iowa Ideas 2018 conference as the Next Gen Summit. Local and state YP representatives such as ImpactCR and YP Iowa, along with local advocates such as the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, continue to work with event organizers to encourage multi-generational networking and idea sharing throughout the conference.
    • Choosing the Best Health Plan. Selecting the right health care plan can be a complicated process. How much do you factor in unexpected life changes?
    • Future of Civic Organizations. What impacts are young professionals having in member-based civic organizations like the Jaycees, Rotary and Optimist Club? Are multi-generational memberships working? What are organizations doing to keep young professionals active and engaged?
    • Mental Health in Young Professionals. Components of young professional life can challenge one's mental health. How are young professionals identifying risks, warning signs and addressing self-care?

    Young Professionals Advisory Council

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