Student Resources

Our incoming freshman spent the weekend before classes start on a tour of agriculture industry and farms in northeast Iowa. They toured Beck's Hybrids in Marshalltown, Pioneer Hi-Bred in Reinbeck and Landus Co-op in Dike. A stop at UNI allowed them to cool down (the air conditioning broke on the bus) and learn about urban soil conservation on the UNI campus. Near Nashua they learned about soil health from the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service

Growing up, Megan Kemp just wanted to fit in with her peers in Durango, Iowa. At Iowa State University the junior in agronomy and global resource systems, says she found a place where she feels comfortable embracing and celebrating her differences.

“My mom is Filipino,” says Kemp. “She and my dad met as pen pals while he was serving in the military. He went to visit her in the Philippines, and that’s where they fell in love. It’s honestly the stuff movies are made of.”

Kemp’s extended family are involved in dairy and beef operations in northeastern Iowa. While she lived on a dairy farm, she didn’t do chores.

“My mom’s heritage instilled very traditional ideals about gender roles,” says Kemp. “So I spent more time in the kitchen.”

Lee Burras sets his Diet Pepsi on the podium and grabs a piece of chalk off the ledge. Class is about to begin.

Burras’ classroom is upbeat and adversarial; he encourages his students to challenge him as much as he challenges them. In order to keep students engaged he uses the chalkboard.

“I want students engaged,” says Burras. “I want whatever I’m talking about to come to life in front of them. I can’t make that happen with a Power Point presentation.”

Burras’ passion is infectious, not just for soils but also for life and for learning. His classes are some of the most sought after in the Department of Agronomy.

In 1989, Jaci Severson was hired as a secretary in the main office of Agronomy. She spent five years working for the Iowa Crop Improvement Association when Dr. Ron Cantrell, department chair at the time, came to her with a question.

"He said I could stay with Iowa Crop or move to the teaching office," said Severson. "I thought about it and told him I wanted to stay with Iowa Crop, but he told me I really didn't have a choice - either go to the teaching office or transition out of the department. It was the best move I could have ever made."

Jaci started revamping the teaching office in 1996. Since then she has ushered 952 graduate students through our doors and into their careers. They are, without a doubt, the highlight of her career.

The National Association of Plant Breeders announced their first group of graduate and undergraduate Borlaug Scholars, and our students took three of the eight awards. Our Katelyn Fritz and Andrew Herr, juniors in Agronomy, were selected Borlaug Undergraduate Scholars. Our Kevin Falk, graduate student with Dr. Asheesh (Danny) Singh, was selected Borlaug Graduate Scholar.

Katelyn Fritz

"Borlaug increased yield and got calories to everyone," said Fritz. "I want to leverage breeding to make those calories more nutricious."

Honors students pursue individualized programs designed to enrich their educational experiences. As a part of their program, each Honors student plans, develops and completes an individual project. The results of those efforts were put on display at the Spring 2018 poster presentation of Honors projects held April 25. Participating students from Agronomy included:

Savanah Jones: Stress tolerance gene identification in Arabidopsis

Brittany Kirsch: Performance of a small, field-scale wetland

Samantha Reicks: Sulfur fertility in soybeans

Aimee Schulz: Inbreeding depression in wild maize populations subject to habitat degradation in southwest Mexico

Iowa State took home the Overall Sweepstakes Award for the fourth year in a row at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Contest held at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska on April 21. Teams from across the College of Agriculture of Life Sciences competed in seven competitions to take the sweepstakes award. The students also took first place in the Ag Knowledge Bowl for the eighth consecutive year.

The Crops Team took first place in the crops contest for the fifth time in the last six years.

Top placing individuals in the crop contest:

Daniel Feucht: 1st place
Elizabeth Widder: 3rd place
Joshua DeGroot: 4th place
Coleman Kneifl: 5th place
Heather Wilson: 6th place

On April 11, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate held a Research Conference. Various students were recognized for their contributions. Our Maria Betsabe Mantilla, graduate student with Dr. Maria Salas, received one of five Research Awards across the University. (Photo: Maria, third from left)

Graduate student Kevin Falk with Dr. Asheesh (Danny) Singh recieved Best Oral Presentation. 

Imagine working alongside Cinderella and Indiana Jones. Elizabeth Schnicker, sophomore in agronomy, has an internship at "The Most Magical Place On Earth."

As a plant science intern with Walt Disney World at Epcot in the Living With The Land greenhouses, Schnicker’s position is research focused and largely behind the scenes. While other interns are in charge of greenhouses for specific shows in the park, Schnicker is focused on the plants.

Kelli Roush, sophomore in agronomy, took first place individual at the National Soils Contest hosted by the University of Tennessee at Martin. She, along with the 7 other top 8 place individual finishers, will travel to Brazil in August to compete in the International Soils Contest prior to the World Congress of Soil Science.

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