Iowa Farm Sanctuary, located in Oxford, provides a safe haven to rescued farm animals in need of love and compassion, giving them a forever home. Here, Shawn Camp, executive director and co-founder, discusses Iowa Farm Sanctuary’s upcoming first-ever 5k, the challenge of aiding farm animals in an agricultural state and how the rescue positively affects humans just as much as its cows and goats.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? After my husband and I went vegan, we were looking for a greater way to directly impact the lives of farmed animals in Iowa. We searched high and low for a farm animal rescue within the state so that we could donate and volunteer, but we came up empty handed. Knowing that Iowa is the epicenter of modern animal agriculture, it seemed that there needed to be a rescue here, and we were just crazy enough to do it ourselves.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with Iowa Farm Sanctuary (IFS)? The greatest reward of being involved with IFS is watching the transformations; both animal and human. We see human and non-human animals come here totally broken, and IFS lends space for healing. It really is magical to see how mutually beneficial the human-animal bond can be.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? The biggest challenge that we face is that we are in Iowa! To a lot of people who are native to the state letting farm animals live the entirety of their natural lives is nearly incomprehensible. Being in such an ag-centered state also means that we are constantly having to turn animals in need away. We get much less local support than sanctuaries in more progressive areas, and we are constantly having to navigate the ever-changing laws that sometimes make the work we do nearly impossible.
Iowa Farm Sanctuary has great apparel and merch. Do you have any favorites? Thank you and totally! I love our “be kind” zip up hoodie. I mean, the thing has thumb holes!
In what ways has the pandemic affected Iowa Farm Sanctuary? Like everyone else, IFS has been forced to shift some of our usual operations. We used to have quarterly, large-group orientations for new volunteers, but now we offer individual and small-group orientations. We had to completely cancel our largest fundraising event of 2020 and make monumental changes to the way we fundraise going forward.
What are your goals for the remainder of 2021? Currently, we are working to finish our barn expansion. Our barn expansion will be a huge asset in the winter, as we will be able to keep our more vulnerable animals in a smaller, heated wing of the barn.
Does the nonprofit have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? We do! We are hosting our first-ever 5k, with in person and virtual options. This event is to honor the life of the first cow we ever rescued, Carl, who we tragically lost this summer. The event will take place on Oct. 16.