Changing view of success

Story by Emma Wilson (’18 agricultural education and studies and journalism and mass communication)

Image by Barb McBreen

As Ben Chamberlain looks out his window toward central campus, he humbly admits he has one of the best views on campus.

“There are some days I just look out here and watch the students walking around or listen to the campanile,” says Chamberlain. “It’s inspiring to be able to do my small part in their experience here at Iowa State.”

When Chamberlain started his degree program in agricultural studies in 1995, he intended on being at Iowa State for four years then return home to farm. Iowa State, however, had other plans for him.

Chamberlain has crafted his career around the student experience.

He served as a residence hall director at Iowa State following graduation, then earned a master’s degree in student personnel services in higher education and academic advising at Kansas State University. He served as an academic adviser in Iowa State’s Ivy College of Business before his passion for agriculture drew him back to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences—this time as a staff member.

Since 2011, Chamberlain (’99 agricul- tural studies) has served as an academic adviser for the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies mentoring current and prospective students while working with his family farm in northwest Illinois.

“I always tell my students a degree is important, but often it doesn’t matter what degree you have,” says Chamberlain. “It’s about the experiences you’ve had and what you bring to the table.”

Andrew McEvoy, a May graduate in agricultural studies, rst met Chamberlain during summer orientation. McEvoy is just one of hundreds of students Chamberlain has impacted.

“When I applied to Iowa State, I was an agricultural business major,” says McEvoy. “Ben sat down with my family and me at orientation and asked genuine questions. He introduced me to the agricultural studies program, and before even starting school, I switched my major to agricultural studies and picked Ben as my adviser.”

During the academic year, Chamberlain enjoys traveling to community colleges to meet future students.

“A big part of why I came to Iowa State was because of the campus feel and the agricultural studies degree,” says Chamberlain. “I often tell prospective students you’ve got to nd a place that feels comfortable but also challenging because that’s what is going to make you grow.”

Chamberlain contributes to student success by serving as the Farm Operations Club adviser, as well as preparing students for the National Postsecondary Agricultural contest.

“The most rewarding thing for me is meeting prospective students, interacting with them in my orientation class, advising some throughout their undergrad and then shaking their hand at graduation,” says Chamberlain. “That is such a cool thing to be a part of, and I don’t think many people get that opportunity.”