Kuan-Yi Lee came to Iowa State from Taipei, Taiwan with little experience and knowledge in agriculture. Following her curiosity, Kuan-Yi led a great adventure at Iowa State and has big plans for the future.
"I began my college experience at the Department of Agronomy at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan, where I studied for one year and became very interested in crop production and I learned more about agronomy," said Kuan-Yi. "My family asked me to study abroad and I decided to look for a university with an outstanding agronomy program and I found Iowa State University. In addition, the department chair of agronomy at my former university got his MS in Statistics at Iowa State University and spoke highly of the agronomy department."
A virtual soils contest took place on October 1-10, and students from our soils team participated in team and individual judging.
"There were 10 sets of cores (five for practice and five for the contest), and soil judgers were able to go over the practice and individual cores on their own. On a normal year, we would go to the location, maybe look at 12 practice pits, and have five contest pits (two for individuals and three for groups)," said Amber Anderson, assistant teaching professor and soils team coach.
Students in agronomy have a wide variety of unique career opportunities to pursue post-graduation. Jessie Hilby is an excellent example of an individual that went out of her comfort zone to take on a career to help communities out.
Jessie Hilby graduated in May of 2020 with her bachelor's degree in agronomy. She is currently working as the Gleaning Coordinator at Feed Iowa First. Her position is within the AmeriCorp 4-H Iowa Produce Gleaning Program.
Soil science will offer a certificate between a minor and a major by providing official recognition for the focus area of study. A bachelor's degree from Iowa State University is not required to earn the certificate, and it is designed to match up with federal and state requirements to obtain a federal job classified for soil scientists and get licensure in states requiring it.
Dr. Bradley Miller, assistant professor of agronomy, explains that the certificate requires 31 credits, but 22 of those may count from other academic programs that students are involved in. The certificate is built to help students have a strong foundation in understanding soil systems.
Ella Carlson, sophomore in agronomy, is spending her summer as a Yield Trial Intern for Beck's Hybrids in Marshalltown, Iowa.
"So far I have been involved with planting and early season note taking. During planting I sat on the planted and dumped seed packets to be planted," said Ella.
After everything was planted, Ella began taking early season notes along with three other people. She analyzed the corn to see if it was doing good, bad, or if something went wrong when planted. Her notes will help researchers know why there may be abnormalities in yields when harvested. The interns take notes for several hours and then they go back to Marshalltown day after day to watch the corn.
Chase Krug, junior in agronomy, is spending his at Reiman Gardens as their Plant Collections Intern. Chase manages the garden's vast collection of diverse plants and provides the public with educational outreach.
"My summer internship project involves creating a backup germplasm collection of the Dr. Griffith Buck Rose Collection to ensure it is well preserved for future rose breeders as a valuable genetic resource for disease resistant rose germplasm," said Chase. "Dr. Griffith Buck was a famed former rose breeder and professor at Iowa State who created and introduced 90+ varieties of disease-resitant shrub roses."
Jenna Cowan, senior in agronomy, was looking forward to being a Digital Technology Manager Intern with WinField United, but her plans quickly changed when COVID-19 began affecting people across the country.
Instead of working directly with retailers to help integrate WinField United agricultural technology tools into their everyday conversations with growers, Jenna's title has transitioned to Agronomy Strategic Projects Intern. Jenna works as a virtual intern as part of the Sales Talent Development and Training division of WinField United.
Ryan Millikin is spending his summer interning with Dr. Mark Licht on campus in the Department of Agronomy. Ryan will be a senior this fall and is a transfer student from Hawkeye Community College.
Ryan explains that Mark has many projects for him to work on during this summer and there are also several graduate students working alongside him as well.
"Earlier this spring we focused on rye biomass. We would take biomass samples, put them in the dryer for 5-7 days, and then record biomass weights. After that, we out the samples through a grinder to later be sent away for nitrate analysis," said Ryan.
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.
After graduation, Tyler will be working as an agronomist for CNH Industrial. Tyler noted that his favorite class that he took at Iowa State was TSM 433 - Precision Agriculture.
"Have fun and take chances! At CALS Career Day don't leave until you have no more resumes left. That's how I landed an internship with a company I never thought would offer one for agronomy majors, but since I had one resume left I went to them and it lead to an internship which lead to a full time position," said Tyler.
Tyler also enjoyed his time studying abroad, especially with Dr. Burras.
"If it is your first time abroad, go with Dr. Burras. He makes it fun and you will really enjoy your first trip out of the country," said Tyler.