Rolling along in a pickup truck across a field in Harlan, Iowa, Alex Freeman really got to know Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, and the cattle producer they were visiting.
“It was about 30 degrees outside, and we were bouncing around in a pickup truck with the windows rolled down in the middle of the pasture, shining our headlights on some cattle out there. We were packed in, all three of us, on a small bench seat. We got to know each other real well,” said Freeman.
As special assistant to the secretary of agriculture, Freeman tours the 99 counties of Iowa each year with Secretary Naig and has had some unique experiences, meeting farmers from across the state.
“The farm owner was a great guy over the moon to see the secretary and was determined to take us out to be able to look at where his cattle graze on the cover crops.”
As a policy advisor to Naig, Freeman still carries lessons learned as a student in North Scott schools.
Since the start of his education at Ed White Elementary School, the son of Chris and Amy Freeman has been a resilient learner, efficiently and effectively conquering obstacles to achieve his goals.
Freeman credits many North Scott educators for fostering a love of learning within him from a young age.
At Ed White, teachers Christine Baldwin and Jennifer Swoboda stuck out as influential figures in Freeman’s early education.
“Alex was a really sensitive, hard-working, and conscientious kid,” Baldwin said. “He was always asking, ‘Am I doing this right? Is this right?’ and I would just tell him to relax.”
Upon becoming a junior high student, Freeman felt inklings of professional interest and began working toward his goals with the assistance of former talented-and-gifted teacher Heidi Redmond.
“Ms. Redmond is one of those professionals who has a particular capacity to bring out the best in everyone she comes across and identify unique skills people have. She really accentuates those skills and simultaneously brings them up in terms of areas they can improve,” Freeman said. “A lot of my involvement professionally ties back to Ms. Redmond and the TAG program at North Scott.”
Freeman first became involved in Future Problem Solvers, in which teams of students aim to provide possible solutions for potential problems in a future society. During his freshman year, Ms. Redmond launched the North Scott mock trial program, which Freeman participated in until graduation. Through the TAG program, Freeman also participated in Thinkers Throwdown, a televised quiz bowl.
“Alex was always very intelligent, he always did very high quality work, but he around sophomore year really started to get empathy for other people, and he started to be more of a leader and really started looking out for other people and seeing what he could do for them,” Redmond said.
The opportunities provided through the TAG program and the influence of many other North Scott teachers Freeman feels prepared him for professional success.
“They have their own unique way of delivering those lessons and skills to students, whether it’s through a quirky trivia tournament or a fake courtroom,” Freeman said. “Those types of opportunities got me interested in a path toward law at that point, and I came into the junior high and high school really wanting to be a lawyer, but I suppose my interest sort of shifted along the way,” he said.
Outside of the TAG classroom, Freeman was a diligent student in all of his classes, trying to soak up everything and anything he could from his teachers.
“Even in eighth grade, he was very mature for his age, very easy to talk to, very polite. He was very smart. And in high school he was the same way,” teacher Bryan Braack said.
“Alex was extremely positive in the classroom. He was an enthusiastic student, very self-motivated, and very talented in Spanish,” Spanish teacher Darcie McGee said.
During his time at North Scott, Alex also became heavily involved in volunteering at King’s Harvest Ministries in Davenport.
“It felt prevalent across the North Scott community: the idea that we all have a responsibility to give back in some way, in our own unique way,” Freeman said. “I made a regular habit of volunteering and serving meals, and I really tried along the way, beyond just doing my small part of meals and dishes, to bring some positive attention to the critical work that organization is doing.”
As a part of bringing attention to the issues of homelessness in the Quad Cities, Freeman, with the help of students Cheyenne Moore, Alex Bare and Ali Watkins, organized a 5K King’s Harvest fundraiser called the Harvest Hustle.
After graduating from North Scott in 2015, Freeman studied at Drake University, where he graduated in 2019 as the first ever Top Graduate in both economics and politics.
“The choice of Drake is really based around the idea that in Des Moines every four years gets to be the center of the political universe,” Freeman explained. “Drake gets to be at the center of the center: hosting debates and candidates and forums and everything in between.”
While majoring in economics and politics at Drake, Freeman immediately found many opportunities to gain experience working on state and national campaigns as a legislative aide at the Iowa Capitol.
He also had the opportunity to intern at the United States Embassy in Santiago, Chile, working as a trade intern in the summer of 2018.
“I got exposed to some of the most patriotic and civic-minded diplomats you could hope to meet,” Freeman said.
While at Drake, Freeman continued to value service, overseeing the Harvest Hustle in Eldridge and kick starting the race in Des Moines.
His value of service has come full circle. As he experiences professional success as the special assistant to Secretary of Agriculture Naig, he has also been appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds to the Iowa Council on Homelessness and the Iowa Volunteer Services Commission.
“Homelessness continues to be something I’m incredibly passionate about,” Freeman said. “I think it is something we can continue to improve on and something we have improved on in a lot of ways.”
Freeman’s campaign work at Drake also came full circle for him. After briefly working on Secretary Naig’s campaign in 2018, the two connected again in 2019, when Naig asked Freeman to be his special assistant and policy advisor.
Now, Freeman tours with the Secretary to all 99 counties in Iowa and oversees agricultural policy.
“We spend those days on the road really trying to learn from folks about agriculture opportunities and the issues they’re facing,” Freeman said. “We really try to see things from their perspective and, going forward, try to take that feedback and turn it into actual policy from our position in Des Moines.”
As for his future, Freeman wants to stay in Iowa and continue his work in politics.
“I think that any opportunity to take me out of Iowa would have to be an extremely good one,” he said. “I really enjoy being here. We just have great leadership. It’s a great state to live in from corner to corner. As someone who’s gone to all 99 counties, I can say that all 99 are beautiful in their own way. I would love to stick around here as long as I can.”
But, for Freeman, it all goes back to North Scott, where he felt he learned invaluable skills for his professional success.
“The skills from Eldridge and North Scott are geographically transferable. Everywhere I go, I’m seeing that,” he said.
Secretary Naig on Freeman: Confidante. Researcher. Good driver.
Alex Freeman accompanies Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig almost everywhere.
“He keeps me on track and out of trouble,” says Naig.
Freeman is the special assistant and policy advisor who often drives Naig on his travels throughout Iowa’s 99 counties.
“He’s sitting next to me right now,” Naig said in a phone interview. “He’s getting me around the state and seeing a whole lot of folks and covering a lot of ground. One of the most impor-tant things I can do is get across the state. It takes a lot of work to coordinate a lot of that.”
That’s part of Freeman’s duties. Calling. Scheduling. And sometimes nudging Naig along to the next appointment.
“When we’re traveling, meeting folks across the state, I need someone who interacts well with people. He’s a very personal guy, easy to talk to, helping me to meet a lot of folks.”
Those folks often have lots of ques-tions. “Alex is the guy I turn to and say, ‘Hey can you track this down?' Really, truly, he’s someone who cuts a wide swath for this job.”
Freeman volunteered, then worked for the Naig campaign, where he made an impression.
“Alex is an incredibly professional individual. Very capable. Detail oriented. We’re not just traveling around for sake of doing it. We want to learn things, follow up and help people out. Alex is the guy who runs down the re-search and connects the dots.
“And, he’s a pretty good driver, for the record.”