IOWA CITY — These days, Dallas Clark finds himself enjoying the challenge of farming as much as the tests he received as an all-American tight end at Iowa and during an 11-year NFL career.
“I’m learning so much and I’ve gained a real appreciation for the business,’’ said Clark, who on Saturday will become the fifth former Hawkeye to be recognized on the America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium.
The recognition comes through a partnership between the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa athletics department to continue a program that began 31 years ago.
The America Needs Farmers program started when former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry placed gold “ANF’’ stickers on Iowa football helmets during the program’s 1985 Rose Bowl season to draw attention to plight of farmers who were struggling economically at that time.
“There was a need and a problem at that time and coach Fry did something about it,’’ Clark said. “… I’m honored and humbled to be recognized.’’
The program now works to connect Iowa’s farm families to consumers in hopes of educating them about the production of food, fuel and fiber.
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Clark, who calls himself a “hobby farmer,’’ partners with former Hawkeye Bruce Nelson in the operation of three farms in north-central Iowa.
Two are near Nelson’s hometown of Emmetsburg, Iowa, and the third consists of 135 tillable acres near Livermore, Iowa, that has been owned by Clark’s family for more than a century. He is in the process of converting his family’s farm to an organic operation.
Clark will be recognized on the field at Kinnick Stadium during Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Wisconsin and will also participate in a pregame autograph session at the Krause Family Plaza located outside of the stadium’s south entrance.