The Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has a proud and distinguished history. As part of Iowa State's sesquicentennial celebration, 150 points of pride related to the College - accomplishments, discoveries, contributions, highlights, famous and interesting people - will be posted here. These postings will coincide with 150 days of the 2007-2008 academic year, beginning Aug. 20, 2007 and ending May 2, 2008, with time off for the Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks. Check back each Monday for five new items.
"The study of agriculture should be something more than a study of its economic problems. It should be educational, moral, political, religious and social as well. It should be remembered that good farming is only a means and that good living is the end to be attained," said George Von Tungeln, Iowa State rural sociologist, writing in a 1918 research bulletin on the social survey of 142 rural families in Black Hawk County. It was one of the nation's first rural community surveys. The survey results indicated that the county had 10 one-room schools and the residents had high moral standards. "The stranger is at once impressed with the high moral standards which seem to prevail. He hears very little swearing and even less telling of vile stories."
Fast fact: The results also indicate that the average farm size was 157 acres. The largest farm was 734 acres and the smallest was one acre. The largest piece of land farmed by one person was 480 acres.
The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll is the longest running survey of its kind. For the past 26 years Paul Lasley has surveyed rural Iowans to examine and understand trends in the culture, community, families and social organizations in rural Iowa. The purpose of the poll is to ask farmers' views on a variety of rural and agricultural issues and provide that information to the public. In 2007, J. Arbuckle, assistant professor of rural sociology, started working with Lasley as a co-investigator. The 2007 poll indicated that 28 percent of Iowa's farmers plan to retire in the next five years, 21 percent were undecided and 5 percent plan to leave farming for another profession. At the same time about 18 percent plan to buy more land and 16 percent plan to rent more land.
Fast fact:In February 2007, questionnaires were mailed to 4,977 Iowa farm operators selected at random, with 3,049 replying, yielding a 61 percent response rate.
The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), was founded by Earl Heady in 1972, at the time Heady was the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State. The Rural Development Act of 1972 that Heady helped conceive provided the vision for a multidisciplinary, inclusive regional rural development center to link research and practical application. The center is one of four regional centers coordinating rural development research and education in the United States. It is supported by land-grant universities in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grants and contracts from private foundations. Its mission is to strengthen the ability of the land grant system and its partners to build rural communities that are economically vibrant and sustainable.
Fast fact: Heady directed the center from 1972 to 1974. He was followed by Ron Powers, head of the department of family environment. He directed the center until 1984. Peter Korsching, professor of sociology, managed the center for the next 10 years. In 1994 Cornelia Flora, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor and professor of sociology, began as director.
The Regional Capacity Analysis Program (ReCAP) continues Iowa State University's tradition of educating communities about regional demographic and economic change. ReCAP began as the Retail Trade Analysis Program in the 1980s. This program provided data to community leaders to help them understand trends and competitive strengths in their retail sectors. During that same time the Census Services program, which began in the early 1980s, delivered demographic data, reports and presentations to Iowa's communities. Next, Iowa PROfiles provided the economic and demographic data to the public from 1994 through 2002. The Rural Development Initiative (RDI) followed as a mid-1990s initiative to fund economic and community development efforts. Next the Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis (SETA) was formed by the merger of the Retail Trade Analysis Program, Census Services and PROfiles. SETA was administered jointly by the departments of economics and sociology and the ISU Extension Community and Economic Development office from 2002 through 2007. Finally, the ReCAP program was organized in 2007 as a user-friendly data service to communities.
Fast fact:The ReCap web site, http://www.recap.iastate.edu/, provides user-friendly data about Iowa's population, age, race, migration, workers, commuting, jobs, farms, business firms, retail sales, industries, earnings, income, poverty, families, education, housing and geography.
Established in 2003, the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (SRL) program involves faculty and students from four Iowa State colleges including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. SRL works with partner organizations in developing nations to stimulate and support activities to address problems that underlie local food shortages, disease and inadequate income. The program also enables student exchanges between Iowa State and universities in developing nations. In 2004, $10 million was donated to Iowa State to support the program. Of the $10 million, $2 million is a gift from the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, Inc., Oak Brook, Ill., for SRL program operating funds, and $8 million is a gift from Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation, Inc., Aurora, Ill. to create the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods endowment. "A central element in our approach is working with local people to help carry out their ideas. By listening to them, we learn about successful activities, local resources and innovative ideas - as well as the challenges they face. We combine community knowledge with faculty and student knowledge to determine where to begin and how to proceed," said Robert Mazur, associate professor of sociology and director of the SRL program.
Fast fact: Uganda, the program's first partner country, has a high infant mortality rate (80 per 1,000 births) and 8 percent of adults are infected with HIV/AIDS according to a 2003 report from the United Nations Development Program.
*Some historic photographs courtesy of the University Archives.