Sustainability Mastermind

By the time I got to Iowa State, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world, but I wasn’t sure how. Until I learned about implementing sustainable food systems in our world. That’s why I’m studying soil, plant, and social sciences and the interactions that support sustainable plant growth. So I can become an agronomist. So I can leave our world better than I found it.

About Anne

Originally from Byron, Illinois, my interest stemmed from high school agriculture classes and FFA. I loved plant science and horticulture and realized I could use a degree in agronomy in many different ways to help feed the world, especially those that aren't fortunate to have stocked grocery stores on every block. I'm concerned about malnutrition in the US, which tends to take the form of obesity, as well as undernourishment in developing countries. I'm worried that the connection between those directly involved in agriculture and consumers is fading, that consumers don't realize the significance of the industry. Don't lose heart and continue exploring the reason that you decided on agronomy. When we learn more about it, the problems seem so complex and complicated but we can continue to improve efficiency, health, and sustainability while sticking to the traditions and values that a farmer has. 

Why Iowa State?

I chose Iowa State because I felt welcomed here, campus is beautiful, Big 12 sports, and I felt the Agronomy Department really cares for its students' professional and personal well being. My favorite class was Agron 250 with Dr. Burras. I love Women in Agronomy events because it's an opportunity to get to know the women students and faculty in our department. My experience with my adviser Gretchen has been amazing. I feel I don't just have an academic advisor, she cares about me and wants me to be successful. She has given me advice on classes, internships, been a recommender, and dealt with me running into her office last minute in excitement or worry. 

Study Abroad

I studied abroad and appreciate that the agronomy department is accommodating and supportive of this. While we focus on Iowa agriculture and what's going on around us, we also discuss what's happening regionally and globally. As the world becomes more connected and interdependent, it's great to see a new perspective and compare it to how it works in the Midwest. 


IAAS (International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences). Besides the normal club things, we put on a dinner for the international students, send our members to national and intl. conferences and engage in global discussions about sustainable agriculture. Through IAAS, I attended conferences in Des Moines, New York City, and Zagreb, Croatia. 


I think the best part about pursuing a degree in agronomy is the versatility. This major will set you up to succeed in a lab setting, the field, as a salesman, or a farmer, whether you want to be here in Iowa, Illinois, or anywhere in the world. 

In ten years...

I hope to have traveled myself out (in a good way). I hope to have positively influenced agriculture in places where they have marginal land and resources and to have learned new approaches to agriculture methods that I took for granted. After that, I think I'll have settled down in the Midwest and will hopefully be working for a startup or small ag business.