Looking Through the Lens of a Student Leader

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If the old adage is true, Lauren Borkowski has written novels on one of her favorite topics–agriculture.

Growing up on her family farm in Irwin, Iowa, Borkowski was involved in 4-H and FFA. It was through these organizations she first was exposed to the possibilities of agriculture in art. As a participant in the county fair, she often had a submission in photography. Many of those early entries were of her pet chickens. “I have tons of photos of chickens,” she says. So many, in fact, that she earned the nickname “chicken lady.” Borkowski considers herself a self-taught photographer from her early experiences, learning about the rule of two-thirds to fill the frame from her days in 4-H. “I’m a very observant person,” she says. “This is my way to share my views of agriculture with others.”

With a double major in agricultural studies and international agriculture plus a minor in agronomy, Borkowski has been accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program at DuPont Pioneer. She’s on track to become a field agronomist after graduation in May 2015. The program is designed to allow Borkowski to “get her hands dirty” being in charge of regulatory compliance of soybean fields in a region.

It comes as no surprise that one of her favorite classes combined her passions for art and agriculture. An assignment in the class was to create a work of art that reflects what agriculture means. Borkowski turned in a photograph that has become one of her favorites.

In her work as a student ambassador, traveling to Thailand and Costa Rica, and in her various internships, Borkowski has expressed her passion for agriculture with images.

“I asked my dad to help with the project,” she says. “It’s of my dad petting one of our bulls on our farm. With the sun shadowing the figures, you can really see the gentleness of the bull and the beauty behind a tough exterior.”

For Borkowski, her photography has become more than a hobby and occasional class project. Some of the principles she applies to photography, she uses in life.

The attention to detail seen in her photos is reflected in her service as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassador. Borkowski has served on the campus visit committee, as secretary of the leadership team and, in her senior year, as chair of the group.

In the ambassadors she found kindred spirits, creating friendships founded on similar goals and interests. As chair, she carefully monitors the group and provides clarification on items to help with the goal of recruiting new students to the college.

“Lauren has definitely displayed a commitment to the college through her work in the ambassadors,” says Beth Foreman, CALS ambassadors adviser and program coordinator in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Services. “Meeting students and sharing her experience and interests is really important to Lauren,” Foreman says.

Her interest in agriculture has led her around the world. During a visit to Thailand Borkowski’s eyes were opened to international agriculture. “It was beautiful and I took some great photos,” she says of the experience to a place she never expected to visit. She enjoyed it so much she traveled to Costa Rica over spring break on another study abroad program.

Though the “chicken lady” may have graduated on to other subjects, the passion she found for agriculture and photography remain. A whole new set of content awaits at her new position; she will be ready with a creative eye to capture the unexpected and highlight agriculture.