Iowa State Prof Helps First Graders Learn “Corn Is Cool”

Tyler Teske in the Agronomy Department recently shared the below via staff newsletter, and it seemed a perfect example of how our faculty and staff often go above and beyond to make a personal connection with students whether on campus or, as in this case, in an elementary school thousands of miles away. Sometimes a story comes along that really illustrates the personality the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and this is one of them.

In February, a group of first graders from Parkland, Fla. wrote a note to Iowa State University asking about corn they were growing in their garden. Some of their corn plants had mysteriously developed an ear in the tassel. The note worked its way through the college to the department. A response was sent, along with a few other items, including some I’m An Agronomist gear.

This week, the teacher of the students sent a letter to the editor at the Des Moines Register in regard to the interaction with the department, which is reprinted below.

All of the letters and photos from the class, as well as the response from the department, are on display in the Agronomy main office.

Iowa Pride

The act of kindness shown to my South Florida students affirms my Iowa Pride. Having grown up in Des Moines, I grow a garden with my first grade class every year. When our corn grew in an unusual manner this year, we turned to Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture for answers. Students wrote a letter and enclosed pictures showing the ears growing out of the top of the plant where the tassels should have been. Going above and beyond, Mr. Kendall Lamkey, Chair of the Department of Agronomy responded.

Not only did he explain the possible reasons for this strange growth in a letter, he also sent a package. Packages are VERY exciting in first grade! In addition to the letter was a book on Corn Growth and Development and an “I’m (going to be) an Agronomist” t-shirt for each student!

Aside from the lessons regarding corn growth and learning to use available resources for inquiries, my class learned that sometimes people take time to make a difference. Each day my students wore their t-shirts to school with Iowa State University printed on the back, I was reminded of the “good people” of Iowa. Who knows, maybe a few of these Florida kids will be future Cyclones!

Kristi Hibbs Giuffreda

First grade teacher

Riverglades Elementary School

Parkland Florida