Thank You for the Support, Eastern Iowa

I’m humbled to have received two honors in the last few months that reflect two of my greatest interests: farming and football. On October 12, I was inducted as the Iowa Farm Bureau 2019 ANF Wall of Honoree, an award that tips the hat to former Hawkeye football players who mirror the work ethic and spirit of Iowa farmers. I was also inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Football Hall of Fame this November. 

I’ve always tried to live by the philosophy that I don’t want to put in only the required amount of effort. I try to approach a task with the mindset that if I put in the work, I can create something special. 

While growing up, this tactic played out in the classroom and on the football field. I put in the hard work and gave football my all as a running back for Mount Vernon High. I was lucky enough to lead the Mustangs to the state championship game in both 2002 and 2003. At The University of Iowa, I had the privilege of playing defensive tackle and made 50 straight starts. I even realized my dream of going pro while playing for the New York Jets.

After leaving the Jets, my wife, Nicole, and I came back to the farm where I grew up. Each season, my team and I work hard planting and harvesting row crops, splitting firewood, taking care of the greenhouses, feeding livestock and growing fresh produce that feeds our community. 

I couldn’t be happier to receive the two awards. However, I couldn’t have done any of this without my family, employees, community and teammates. I’d like to say thank you. Together, we’ve created something special.

I have my parents, former coaches and teammates to thank for the induction into the IHSAA Football Hall of Fame. I was absolutely honored when I received that call, but I will always live by the assumption I never did anything special or overly great in sports. While we’ll have a great time reliving some of those early days in football, I thank my parents — John and Kaylene Kroul — for pushing me to focus on athletic and academic goals from a young age. 

With the caliber of men and players that came before me, I absolutely did not believe I would be the ANF Wall of Honor inductee. I have all those players to thank as role models, as well as generations of Iowa farmers. It’s pretty neat that — through connections between farming and football — my name will be on the walls of Kinnick for many years to come. 

During the ANF ceremony, I started to feel those same nerves and anxious feelings I’d get before a game while on the field. When the crowd cheers, time seems to stop for a split second. I’ll never take for granted the feeling of being on the field during game time, looking up in every direction to see just how awesome Kinnick and Hawkeye fans are.

Though my playing days are over, I’m proud of the legacy our Kroul Farms team is leaving on Iowa agriculture. We’re working daily to prove that a small farm can survive in a time when most are fading out. Local growers matter and deepening relationships with our customers allows us to grow and expand into various agricultural markets.

Eastern Iowans, you are the factor that has made us special. Your support of local agriculture and businesses, desire for fresh produce and understanding that America still needs farmers helps us improving each season.

Agriculture in Iowa is the foundation of the vast majority of business in the state, large and small. The industry weaves through many avenues of a person’s daily life. At any moment, we can grab something to eat or drink. Typically, some part of that product was produced by a farmer. We need to take a step back and realize how great life is and how easy we may have it in regards to the basic necessities of life. Our community has done that.

Thank you for your support of our family and farm. For years, you’ve inspired me to work for something special. Thank you for your continued support in the years to come. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I wouldn’t have wanted to. 

—    Matt Kroul

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