From The Dean – Fall 2014

This fall you don’t need to look far to see difference makers among our students, faculty and staff for our community, state and planet.

Students in the Sustainable Agriculture Student Organization have been growing and cooking fresh garden produce for a program that provides free meals to hundreds of the needy in the Ames area.

The Block and Bridle Club organized nearly 400 volunteers who packaged more than 60,000 meals for Meals from the Heartland for delivery to hungry people in Iowa and around the world.

Two dozen plant pathology and microbiology students are screening soil samples for potentially new antibiotic or antimicrobial agents, part of the Small World Initiative, a worldwide crowd-sourcing effort by university science students. Maybe one will make a discovery that counters antibiotic resistance and benefits millions, while each finds real-life meaning from their class and lab studies.

The health of an ecosystem depends on strong, interactive relationships. That’s why every fall I’m proud how ISU steps up to contribute to United Way, which works to meet the needs of preschool and grade school children, seniors, the disabled and others in our community. Faculty, staff and students do so not just financially, but also by working on Day of Caring community service projects. United Way is one way ISU shows how we care about the current and future health of our “ecosystem” — the people of our community.

Sometimes you can learn a lot about how much our students care by reading the quotes they put in their email signatures. Here’s one I received recently in a note from a global resource systems student studying environmental science, who was preparing to travel to Vietnam to present on her research (how native plants can soak up contaminants from wastewater) at an international conference:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

That mindset is what makes me hopeful for the future, and I hope it does for you, too.

Wendy Wintersteen

Endowed Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences