One senior in the Department of Agronomy is given the Outstanding Senior Award yearly. Students are selected based on high academic standing, leadership in activities (especially relating to agriculture and agronomy), and good character. The selection is made by members of the senior class in agronomy as well as advisors.
The recipient of the award receives a $500 prize, plaque, and his/her name on the wall plaque in the department. The recipient is formally recognized at the Agronomy Club Awards Ceremony, but due to unprecedented circumstances, the ceremony was canceled this year. The department would like to recognize this year's Outstanding Senior, Kelli Roush, by sharing her experiences and impacts within the department.
Kelli has been very active in her time at Iowa State, being involved in a variety of activities, clubs, and trips, all while excelling at her studies.
"This university has given me the ability to build upon my agronomic knowledge while being involved in clubs and other campus activities," said Kelli. "I have felt that my education has been the university’s top priority, and I am well prepared to enter into the industry."
Kelli participated in several study abroad programs while at Iowa State, which took her to Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, and Spain. She noted that these trips allowed her to meet new people and further her knowledge about agriculture across the globe.
"While at Iowa State, I had the opportunity to be part of the Agronomy Club, Beginning Farmers Network Club, and the Soil Judging team. All of these allowed me to learn about agriculture outside of the classroom," said Kelli.
Kelli succeeded in all of these groups, especially on the Soil Judging Team, where she placed first at the National Collegiate Soil Judging Competition in Martin, TN, in 2018. She then traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with Team USA to compete internationally and placed first in the world in team judging and first overall.
"Collectively, these clubs and organizations have diversified my experience at Iowa State and have shaped me into the leader I am today," said Kelli. "I can confidently say without these experiences entering the industry would be more intimidating, as these experiences have granted me the ability to be confident in myself and be an advocate for the future of agriculture."
Amber Anderson, Kelli's academic advisor and assistant professor of agronomy, explained that Kelli took advantage of many of the opportunities that the department offered.
"She has taken several study abroad trips, has been on the soil judging team-even qualifying and attending national soil judging in Brazil, and is even helping other students learn through her job as a teaching assistant," said Anderson.
Kelli explained that it was difficult for her to pick one favorite class because they have all been so beneficial in building her future as an agronomist. She also stated that the Department of Agronomy wants nothing but the best for their students.
"One of my favorites has been Agronomy 280 with Dr. Christian. This class was full of practical agronomic knowledge that I could apply in the field," said Kelli. "I also thoroughly enjoyed the classes taught by Dr. Burras. His classes always had a very positive learning environment and it was his goal that everyone learned something, even if it was a life lesson."
Kelli advised future students to take college seriously, but to make sure they enjoy their time at Iowa State. She also shared the importance of getting involved in things you are interested in both in your department and around the entire college. You never know who you might meet that may even become your best friends.
"Everyone's story at Iowa State will be different, but the university has so much to offer. I encourage future students to write their own story and to write it in a way that allows them to leave a legacy in Ames as they graduate from the same great university that I am," said Kelli. "Represent Iowa State University in a way that makes alumni proud!