ISU And Cast: Promoting Science-based Ag Information For 40 Years
Charles A. Black, an Iowa State University agronomy professor, was instrumental in founding the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) in Ames in 1972 to meet the need for access to sciencebased agricultural information.
Since then the partnership between CAST and Iowa State University continues to run deep. When CAST offered an education program, ISU was first to take advantage, so educators and students could access current news, resource material and career opportunities. Other universities and education groups followed ISU’s lead to receive CAST benefits. Many Iowa State professors support CAST by contributing to research papers and serving on CAST committees.
CAST shares science-based information through its publications, weekly online newsletter, videos and social media. For four decades, the independent organization has informed educators, students, the public and policymakers about issues important in the world of agriculture and food production.
Currently, the most dynamic collaboration between CAST and Iowa State University is the intern program.
“The program is wonderful for both the students and our organization,” says CAST’s John Bonner. “Our organization gets help from hardworking young people with innovative ideas, while the students gain experience and make connections that often lead to successful jobs.”
Bonner (’68 dairy science, MS ’71 animal science, PhD ’74) is executive vice president and chief executive officer of CAST.
Many interns have been part of this productive partnership. Two with strong agriculture backgrounds demonstrate why the program flourishes.
“Elizabeth Burns-Thompson came to CAST brimming with enthusiasm and insights about tech and communication. She took every opportunity to make connections and develop new programs,” says Linda Chimenti, CAST’s chief operating officer.
Burns-Thompson points out, “I worked on a number of projects, but the most significant was introducing CAST into the world of social media.”
During her internship, Burns-Thompson (’11 agricultural business and international
agriculture) kick-started CAST’s involvement with the AgChat Foundation and Twitter. At the same time, she was able to “agvocate” for agriculture—including a trip to Washington, D.C., for National Ag Day. Burns-Thompson now studies agricultural law at Drake University Law School and works with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
A current intern, Sally Gorenz, has kept the tweets rolling with a growing tally of 2,300 Twitter followers. Among her many jobs, the senior in agricultural and life sciences education, communications option, has expanded the role social media plays at CAST. Gorenz developed a CAST Facebook page and started the popular “Catch of the Day”—a regular Facebook link featuring high interest stories.
“Staying on top of social media helps you put a name to your organization, expand your network with the click of a mouse and keep you on your toes for the next social media outlet coming your way,” Gorenz says.
The ISU-CAST connection continues to be a two-way street that benefits students, educators and those interested in credible information about science and agriculture.