MEET RYAN MARQUARDT
I am a farmer, father, and life-long Iowan. My father grew up in northern Madison County on the family farm, and my mother grew up in Albia, the daughter of an auto parts store owner and a high school school teacher. My parents met at Iowa State University, and were married in Van Meter in 1980. They had planned to return to the family farm in Madison County, but that was the height of the farm crisis. One phone call in 1980 where my Grandma told my Dad, "The farm isn't making any money, you better find a job in town," changed their plans. So, I grew up in Ames, Iowa.
As a child, I always enjoyed visits to the farm. I remember during one such visit I was gazing out across the landscape and my mother came up to me and said, "You look like you belong here." I lost my mother to a sudden stroke in 2014, so I cherish these little memories.
I wouldn't change growing up in Ames for a minute. Some things happen for a reason, and for me that reason is my wife, Janice. She was my high school sweetheart, and is now the mother of our two children. We have been together since 1998 and married since 2006. I think much of the success we have had in life is from the strength of the relationship that we have built together.
After completing high school, I went on to DMACC and got my Associate's Degree before transferring to Iowa State. At Iowa State, I studied Community and Regional Planning with a focus on Economic Development before going on to get a Certificate in Public Management and a Masters Degree in Sustainable Agriculture. While I was at Iowa State, I worked for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation doing conservation easement monitoring and competitive grant writing. I also lectured on conservation issues and grazing systems. I worked with farmers in the Loess Hills who were trying to use goats to control woody vegetation, and researched wildlife and grazing systems near Corning, Iowa.
While we were still finishing our degrees, Janice and I started our farm business in 2007 with $1,500, a receiver hitch we put on my old car, and a trailer I pulled out of a ditch and rebuilt. In 2008, we wanted to return to Madison County after we graduated. My Grandfather didn't see eye to eye with us. He told us to "go buy an acreage," so Janice and I bought forty acres in Jasper County and called his bluff. We grew the business and started building our cattle herd in Jasper County. I started working part-time for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in the Jasper County Farm Office. In 2013, after the birth of our second child, we were outgrowing our 900 square foot home, so we approached my Grandfather again, and this time he was receptive.
It took a year and a half before our Jasper County farm would sell. This time period was very challenging for us. Janice had found a new job, but was commuting over two hours a day. My daughter started private preschool because there was no public option available. We had to run the farm business with the knowledge that we could be moving at any time, and we were paying the mortgage in both Jasper and Madison County. It was not easy, but made it through. We moved our farm business nearly sixty miles, built a new home on the family farm, and we were able to see our shared vision through.
Over the years, I have worn a lot of different hats from non-proft board chair, township trustee, church council president, to most recently board president of a 1200 member household cooperative. I am committed to Iowa and I am committed to seeing this through and to push for a more responsive state government.
That is why I ran for the Iowa House in 2018. We did not win, but we learned a lot and considerably outperformed expectations. After the 2018 election, I started working as the General Manager of the Iowa Food Cooperative in Des Moines, and only recently stepped away to focus on the 2020 Campaign. I currently serve on the Greater Madison County Community Foundation Board and the Madison County Planning and Zoning Board.
My wife and I have had to struggle to get where we are at, but are proud and blessed by our journey. I want to see Iowans who are willing to work and push themselves succeed. I will take a common sense, fiscally responsible, and practical approach to government that listens to all sides, even if we don't always agree. I want to see Iowa, once again, work for all Iowans. I would appreciate your vote on November 3rd, 2020, and look forward to serving you.