Reveille, Research, and Recruitment

Thomas Wilgenbusch is an early riser.

Every morning before class he participates in an intense military fitness program focused on building cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength. It’s part of his Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Wilgenbusch spent one summer in Kosovo teaching English to security forces through ROTC.

On campus, Wilgenbusch, a junior in animal science, keeps a rigorous schedule full of classes, club meetings, studying and mentoring other students. Brad Skaar, an animal science professor and his adviser, coached Wilgenbusch in little league in his hometown of Story City, Iowa.

Skaar says he’s always been conscientious and organized.

“I don’t know when he sleeps,” Skaar says. “He has a lot of different things going on and he puts them in the right order.”

Those organizational skills helped him attain a U.S. Department of Agriculture Wallace-Carver Fellowship at the USDA Agricultural Research Station Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research in Kimberly, Idaho, last summer.

“The fellowship gave me the opportunity to see multiple segments of the agriculture industry working together to maximize food production and efficiency,” Wilgenbusch says.

The fellowship allows college students to collaborate with world-renowned scientists through paid internships. In the summer of 2016, 10 of the 37 students stationed at USDA research centers across the country were Iowa State students.

Along with his intense schedule, he finds time to mentor and talk to prospective students as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassador. This year he served as chair of the committee that recruits, selects and trains new ambassadors.

“The student ambassadors go out to high schools, talk to 4-H and FFA students and lead campus tours,” Wilgenbusch says. “Ambassadors practice a lot of skills like public speaking, organization and leadership, which we can use in our internships and future jobs.”

Beth Foreman, student services program coordinator, leads the college’s ambassador group. She says ambassadors enjoy sharing their experiences with prospective students.

“These students serve a critical role in recruiting new students. Ambassadors have a lot of credibility with prospective students because they are much closer to their age,” Foreman says.

The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity is another part of Wilgenbusch’s life. He joined as a freshman and says it’s been helpful to have upperclassmen as mentors who share their knowledge about classes and campus.

“We really try to work as mentors and help other students learn good study habits,” he says.

Wilgenbusch has received a scholarship through the ROTC program and received the Fred Foreman Scholarship in Leadership and Participation.

He plans to pursue a career in animal science research and is currently working with Joshua Selsby, an associate professor of animal science, studying the muscular effects of heat stress in hogs.