The culture of CALS celebrated on National Agriculture Day


Students network with agriculture companies at the National Agriculture Day celebration in Curtiss Hall’s Harl Commons.

Senior Tessa Berg, an animal science major, raised sheep as a child with her family. National Agriculture Day allowed her to honnor the products of the agricultural industry.

Sustainability and the importance of the agriculture industry were celebrated as attendees feasted on burgers while students made connections with Iowa businesses Tuesday.

The event celebrated and recognized agriculture’s wide outreach and importance across Iowa and nationwide. Iowa is a national leader in agriculture and is the number one producer of pork, corn, eggs, ethanol and biodiesel.

According to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website, Iowa State’s agricultural programs rank in the top 4% worldwide among other agriculture and forestry institutions.

Paige Jergens, a senior majoring in agriculture business and the president of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Student Council, took charge of organizing the event along with her co-chairs.

She said the event’s purpose is to celebrate everything within the agriculture industry and expected a turnout of around 1000 people.

“So many different people walk through [Curtiss Hall] besides solely agriculture students, so we’re celebrating our peers and advocating for agriculture,” Jergens said.

Surrounding Curtiss Hall, students playing bean bag toss on the lawn were delighted with the smell of fresh hamburgers.

Upon receiving their food in Harl Commons, students were given the opportunity to network with various companies from Iowa.

Jergens said students will be able to network with different agriculture businesses.

“It’s just gonna be a super fun, laid-back event [and] it’s just meant for chatting and communicating with people in the agriculture industry and enjoying a meal together,” Jergens said.

Jergens said the process of coordinating the event has been hectic but worth it in that the CALS student council will be able to promote the college and the industry itself.

“The nation’s organizations, farmers and producers, get together and they celebrate production, agriculture, and cooperatives,” Jergens said.

Jergens said as a university that is located and immersed in the agriculture community, it is important to celebrate the event and promote the industry across campus.

Taking a moment to stop eating his hamburger, Gabe Walski, a junior majoring in animal science, said he appreciated the agricultural industry and attended the event not only for the food, but because of his interest in the field.

“If it weren’t for agriculture, we wouldn’t have these burgers that we’re eating, we wouldn’t have these potato chips and wouldn’t be able to do anything without agriculture let alone be able to feed the world,” Walski said.

Walski said he appreciates the agriculture department, the faculty, his classes and the opportunities presented to him through events such as the National Agriculture Day event.

He said the opportunity to network with different agriculture companies piqued his interest, specifically those related to bio-renewable technology and, more specifically, Smithfield Foods.

Brad Anderson, director of Hog Procurement at Smithfield Foods, was at the event promoting the company. He said he wanted students to get a better look at the opportunities the companies at the event have to offer.

“[We want] students to see what opportunities Smithfield food has whether that is, you know, grain or hog procurement, business management, animal welfare and environmental aspects,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Smithfield is the largest pork plant in the world with 60,000 employees, 40 of those are domestic, and has close to 60 different locations, including processing plants.

“Our major brands would be Smithfield Anchorage [and] Nathan’s Farmland, and we have several levels that go all through charcuterie, and we’re in most main retailers in food distributors,” Anderson said.

As she enjoyed her hamburger, Tessa Berg said National Agriculture Day represents farmers and shows appreciation for those who work within the industry.

“I grew up raising sheep and horses and I’ve just always kind of been into the ag industry,” Berg said.

Cole Weinkauf, a grain merchandiser at POET Bioprocessing, one of the companies at the event, said he hopes the students who came to the event recognize all the good farmers do for the world.

“We want students to come through and recognize what National Ag Day is, which is all about the things that farmers are doing for the entire world, and then just to come up and talk to us and network with people,” Weinkauf said.

Weinkauf said POET is an ethanol company that essentially uses corn from the corn fields and produces it into many different products.

He said ethanol is the primary product among dried distiller grains that go into animal feed, wet modified grains, and carbon dioxide for corn oil.

“Working for POET, we’ve got a lot of different opportunities for full time hire as well as internships and hope to meet many different students interested in the company and the ag industry,” Weinkauf said.