Learning and Leading by Doing

The hands-on nature of the agricultural systems technology major appealed to Colin Connor, and it turned out to provide ample opportunities for leadership development.

As a freshman and sophomore, Connor served on committees in the 80-member Agricultural Systems Technology (AST) Club. He became treasurer as a junior and was elected president as a senior last year.

“I wanted to get involved. I was a leader of different clubs in high school, and I enjoyed it,” he says. “I liked getting to know the younger members and helping them progress through their careers at Iowa State.”

Connor runs the club’s meetings and helps organize fundraisers including snowblower and lawnmower service days open to the Ames community. The club hosts speakers at each meeting to help members learn about internships and full-time job opportunities. Connorhelped plan a technology industry night co-hosted by the AST Club and the ITec Club prior to the CALS Career Fair to encourage student networking with industry professionals.

“I like to bring together ideas from everybody and try to come up with the best idea possible. To me, the most important qualities of a leader are respect, responsibility and communication,” Connor says. “As AST president, I had to communicate with a variety people including companies that hire AST majors, our department chair, our club advisers and club members.”

Connor says he appreciates his executive team and their help achieving club goals. He completed the club’s entry to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers competition of student clubs of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Their record of activities and achievement won the first place award for the technology branch last year.

Matt Darr, an associate professor in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department and one of the club’s advisers, says Connor has been a tremendous asset to the club.

“His professionalism and organization are on display with everything he does within the department and within the AST Club. Whether it is his role in service events or leading club meetings, Colin is extremely reliable and always motivated to highlight the best of Iowa State,” he says.

Connor grew up in Swansea, Illinois. He became acquainted with agriculture through his family’s farmland and visits to his grandparent’s farm near the Quad Cities.

“I like to solve problems and that’s something they stress in ag systems technology,” Connor says.

He had a job lined up months before graduation, solving problems for Monsanto at its Beaman, Iowa, soybean facility as a production associate.