Luke Gran, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, (515) 451-1202, email@example.com
Rachael Cox, Agronomy, (515) 572-2883, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelley Taylor, Agriculture Study Abroad Office, (515) 294-5393, email@example.com
Brian Meyer, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-5616, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISU STUDENTS HOPE TO BUILD INTEREST IN INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE OPPORTUNITIES
AMES, Iowa -- Two Iowa State University students have organized a national conference to encourage involvement in an international organization for students in agriculture and related sciences.
College students from Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota are expected to arrive in Ames on Friday, April 21, for the second annual IAAS-USA National Conference. IAAS stands for International Association for students in Agriculture and the related Sciences. It'll be held during ISU's Veishea celebration, April 21-23.
Luke Gran and Rachael Cox organized the conference.
"We hope to bring more attention about IAAS to universities around the country," said Gran, a senior in forestry from Newton. "The IAAS has been around since 1957, but the United States only just got involved during the past two years."
"Our goal is to grow interest and discuss the future of the organization nationally," said Cox, a sophomore in agronomy from Ames. "Conferences like this are one step in that direction."
IAAS is one of the world's largest student-run organizations, involving university students in more than 40 countries who are studying agriculture, environmental sciences, forestry, food sciences, landscape architecture and related subjects. The association promotes the exchange of knowledge, information and ideas among students and aims to improve mutual understanding among countries and cultures.
Gran currently serves as the U.S. exchange coordinator for IAAS, working to match students from other countries with Iowa farmers.
Several ISU faculty members will speak to conference participants on Saturday. Ricardo Salvador, an associate professor of agronomy who currently serves as program director for food systems and rural development with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will speak on sustainable agriculture systems. Mike Duffy, professor of economics, will speak on international economic, trade and subsidy issues. Lee Burras, associate professor of agronomy and adviser with the environmental sciences major, will speak on soils research and agricultural issues in Africa. Lisa Schulte, assistant professor of natural resource ecology and management, will speak on landscape ecology.
"The students who'll be here are very globally aware," Gran said. "The presentations will give them some new information to chew on and stimulate discussion. We want to give our visitors a snapshot of what's happening globally from some great professors and hear their thoughts on the future."
The visitors also will take in Veishea activities and go on a prairie walk led by Tom Isenhart, associate professor in natural resource ecology and management, at Doolittle Prairie north of Ames.
Gran, who attended the first IAAS-USA conference at the University of Illinois last year, said the association stimulates students to learn more about global perspectives outside the classroom.
"It's all about fostering dialogue and exchanges. IAAS offers students a chance to learn from other students around the world," he said.
The most important benefit, Cox said, is involvement in creating a global community of students with similar interests in agriculture and related fields. "You can make some amazing connections practically anywhere you want to go. IAAS offers opportunities for exchanges where you could work with local farmers or research institutions. I may go to Togo in western Africa next year and work with a subsistence farmer."
With support from the College of Agriculture, both Gran and Cox will travel to Malaysia in July to represent Iowa State at the IAAS World Congress, billed as the world's largest gathering of students in agriculture and related fields.
Both Gran and Cox are no strangers to learning about agriculture in other countries.
Since his freshman year at ISU, Gran has studied in Belize, Australia and India. This summer he will help lead an ISU study-abroad program in India. Cox spent last summer as a World Food Prize intern working at a research center in Nairobi, Kenya. This summer she'll participate in a service learning project in Uganda, developing a garden for a primary school as part of ISU's Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods.
Both students are student travel consultants in the College of Agriculture's Study Abroad Office, providing advice and sharing their experiences with other students. Cox is the current president of the International Agriculture Club.
After graduation, they hope to continue their involvement in global affairs. Cox is planning to get her Ph.D. and conduct research in sustainable agriculture in the United States or sub-Saharan Africa. Gran wants to go to graduate school and provide expertise for international development activities.