Celebrating 100 Years Of Leadership, Service In Agriculture

One hundred years of opportunities, friendship, scholarship and brotherhood gave the men of Alpha Gamma Rho many reasons to celebrate during their centennial celebration in April.

The fraternity for young men pursuing careers in food, fuel, natural resources, life sciences and related fields, has been a mainstay of student leadership and involvement at Iowa State since its charter date in 1914. Known as AGR, the fraternity is the only house on campus to designate membership according to related career interest.

“Our motto is to make better men, and the opportunities for our members are tremendous,” says Eric Peterson, general manager at Summit Farms, LLC. Peterson (’07 agricultural business) served on the centennial planning committee.

As one of the first established chapters in the nation, AGR had humble beginnings in a rented home on Hyland Avenue in the campustown area. Steady growth allowed the chapter to purchase land and build at its existing location, 201 Gray Avenue in 1921. Since that time, the homestead of AGR has evolved to meet the growing needs of the organization. 2014 house occupancy is 89 students, with 85 initiates living on-site.

AGR’s legacy is apparent with more than 800 AGR alumni and guests in attendance at the centennial. Participants celebrated on a grand scale with tours of the AGR house, Iowa State facilities, roundtable industry discussions drawing in global agriculture leaders and class reunions.

“This is a celebration of our alumni’s continued achievements,” says Chance Wiese, senior in animal science and current president of Iowa State’s AGR chapter. He says leadership skills learned in the fraternity during undergraduate years have translated to lifetime success.

The planning committee’s vision, almost two years in the making, came to fruition in the Marvin J. Walter and Alpha Gamma Rho Arena in the new Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center. Both the local chapter and many AGR alumni supported the facility, says Wiese.

“Hosting the event in the arena was the perfect way to honor the memory of our brother Marv Walter, and to showcase the amazing facility we helped bring to Iowa State University,” Wiese says. Walter (’62 MS animal science) provided the preliminary gift to fund the Hansen Student Learning Center (read more about the center on page 38).

“This organization has created an opportunity for us to impact something larger than ourselves,” says Wiese.

At ISU, AGR members are heavily involved in campus-wide initiatives like VEISHEA, Greek Week and Homecoming. They also are the driving force behind philanthropic projects like “BBQ B4 Books,” an event held to raise funds for Heifer International, a global organization focused on empowering communities to end world hunger and poverty.

Nearly 2,200 initiates have walked through the doors of AGR since its inception. They walk out a member of an on-going legacy providing resources, leadership and brotherhood in agriculture. As Peterson says, “they walk out better men.”