Change-Maker Academy prepares students for the world of agricultural entrepreneurship


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Iowa State’s Change-Maker Academy gives students the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship in the world of agriculture.

Cade Cameron

Iowa State’s Change-Maker Academy helps students to make an entry into the agricultural entrepreneurship landscape. The new program helps students gain experience in leadership and entrepreneurship, making the lofty goal of owning an agricultural business that much more attainable.

“The Change-Maker Academy is the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative’s extra-curricular program designed to train and develop the mindset, skills and behaviors of high-impact agricultural entrepreneurs and change-makers,” remarks Matt Clancy, assistant teaching professor. 

With this being such a recent program, some people may not understand that it can be open to any student interested in entrepreneurship. Since Iowa State has such a large student body, this program encourages students from all over to join. It can be very beneficial for the academy to have many different views as it can create great change.

“We encourage everyone to apply,” Clancy said. “The best new ideas come from the unexpected collisions of previously unconnected ideas. So we want a lot of different backgrounds and perspectives in the program.” 

However, most of the 40-50 undergraduate students that are a part of this extra-curricular program will be from the agriculture industry. With this being the case, the program remains applicable to agricultural ideas. It also allows for greater networking around the region. 

“We try to make sure a large share of qualifying events pertain to agriculture and the rural economy,” Clancy said. “Moreover, since participating students are more likely to come from those backgrounds, it’s a good way for future ag entrepreneurs to find each other at Iowa State.”

Something unique about this program is students are eligible to receive a $500 scholarship. The criteria are that the students must complete a certain number of events. These could be done by attending the local meeting, listening to guest speakers and having the data to back it up. 

“Our hope is that students at every level of interest in entrepreneurship and leadership will gain something from the experience,” Clancy said. “It provides a very easy way for people who have never thought of themselves as entrepreneurs or leaders to dip their toe in and see if it’s something they want to take farther.”

If interested in joining the program, you can contact Marcie Fahn, current director of the Change-Maker Academy, or apply in the fall when the application is available.