A look forward in CALS

Madeline Mcgarry

From last week’s donation from Cargill Incorporated, to the crowning of Mr. CALS and the successful closeout of CALS Week, it’s been an eventful time as of late for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Rebekah Sletten, senior in agricultural business and international agriculture, serves as a quad chair for CALS Week. Reflecting on the past week of CALS celebratory festivities, Sletten is pleased with the turnout.

“This CALS Week was a very successful event,” Sletten said. “We had great attendance throughout the week, and students were excited to participate in the variety of activities that we had available. Of course the free food on a campus was a huge hit.” 

In addition to carrying on traditional aspects of the multi-day celebration, CALS Council also worked to incorporate new activities.

“The new event that was added was a diversity panel focusing creating a culture of ag STEMpathy and understanding the value of diversity,” Sletten said. “The old event that was brought back was CALS Olympics.”

Sletten is looking forward to beginning the planning process for next year’s CALS Week, and is optimistic about the future event’s prospects.

“I think it’s important to always evaluate what students are interested in and passionate about, and plan events accordingly,” Sletten said. “The free food will always be popular, but it’s important to plan events that students will enjoy but also learn something from.”

Looking forward to graduation, Sletten is planning for the beginning of her post-college career.

“After college I hope to work in government affairs for an agricultural company,” Sletten said.

In just over one week, CALS will be holding its annual Career Fair at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center, continuing its reign as host of the nation’s largest aggregation of agricultural recruitment figures and prospective employees.

“This is another point of pride for [CALS] because it is the largest career fair for agriculture and life sciences in the United States,” said David Acker, associate dean for academic and global programs in CALS.

There are currently 259 companies registered to attend the event, just shy of the 262 companies that participated in 2016. Relatedly, the workings of the Career Fair resulted in over 860 post-career-fair interviews

Mike Gaul, director of Career Services for CALS, said that many other land grant universities across the country are projected to have lower career day turnout as a result of economic conditions and company mergers.

“Regardless, the entry-level opportunities for students in agriculture and life sciences remain very strong and the large turnout of employers reinforces our students are held in high regards,” Gaul said.

As of today, nearly 55 interviews have already been scheduled for the day following the career fair.

Supplementary to CALS’ primary fall career fair, the college will also be hosting the Spring Ag Career Day on Jan. 31, 2018. Although the spring career event has traditionally drawn less than half of the companies who attend in the fall, students will still be granted a valuable opportunity to pursue summer employment and internship opportunities.

Iowa State has the third largest undergraduate agriculture program in the nation with 4,603 students enrolled this fall, behind the University of California, Davis (8,387) and Texas A&M University, College Station (6,482). 

Considering Iowa’s comparatively small population of 3.14 million people, CALS is fighting above its weight class, Acker said.

In addition to preparing for its annual career fair, CALS is looking forward to expanding its agricultural presence and research efforts on campus.

Earlier this month, CALS announced the receipt of $14 million in corporate donations for a new feed mill and grain complex, a project that is just beginning its planning phase.

The Board of Regents will be reviewing the details of the facility over an approximate three to four month time frame, which will then allow for construction quotes to be considered and eventually accepted.

“Perhaps as early as next year in the fall, we could have a groundbreaking,” said Dirk Maier, associate director of the global food security consortium at Iowa State.