Message from the Dean - March 25, 2024

Hello, CALS,

I know we all agree on GO CYCLONES! Some truly great basketball being played by the Iowa State women and men. Fun! Good luck to the men's team going forward, and welcome back home to the women after a phenomenal season and tournament appearance.

This week, the big event for our college is the CALS Spring Awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 27, at 4:10 p.m. in 127 Curtiss Hall (Dolezal Auditorium). I hope very many of you will choose to attend as we celebrate the accomplishments of your colleagues. We’ll call out those staff and faculty that have received honors, we’ll remember some of our colleagues that have passed too soon, we’ll give out another Dean’s Award for Sustained Excellence (this time posthumously to Bill Gamble; previously these have been awarded to Sherret Chase and Joe Stritzel), and we’ll recognize the farm crews that battled with the January blizzards. It’ll be a great time to honor our fellows, and afterwards to enjoy a wine and cheese reception in Harl Commons.

Also this week, I’ll meet with the MUDS! These are the college’s Morrill, University and Distinguished professors. Of late, we try and meet at least once each semester for a roundtable of sharing and imaging the future of the college together.

And next week, Monday, April 1, at 2:15 p.m. in Curtiss Hall's Dolezal Auditorium, we’ll have our spring CALS Town Hall. Please try and turn out for that.

Last week was pretty hectic, but great with events. There was the annual Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Secretary (Mike Naig) Ag Leaders Dinner in Ankeny. About 1,000 people attend, from the Governor to excellent representation from the college. The keynoter was journalist Tyne Morgan from U.S. Farm Report, and among the three award winners was the Plant Peddler of Cresco, Iowa, founded, owned and operated by the Goode family who are great horticulture alums! There was also the 1,000-person event called Celebration of Agriculture, held each year in Cedar Rapids where, between the college and Extension, we had four tables of people (some of us from here, along with alums and partners to the college). The keynote speaker was former USDA Secretary and current University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue. At both events, IDALS Secretary Mike Naig made beautiful remarks about the loss of our dear friend, alum and great public servant, Bill Northey.

Over the past few weeks, I took note of a few quotes that I think are relevant to us and share them here in chronological order:

  • "The education of its youth is the foundation of a state." - Diogenes, also known as Diogenes the Cynic or Diogenes of Sinope, a Greek philosopher, founder of Cynicism, born in Anatolia, and died in Corinth 323 BCE.
  • "What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul." - Joseph Addison, 1672 – 1719, English essayist, poet, playwright and politician.
  • "Eating is an agricultural act." - Wendell Berry, born in 1934, American writer and farmer.

Have a great week, and hopefully the last bits of winter will leave the state. My best - Dan

Scenes from CALS

The spring blooming flowers, including these daffodils, got a bit of a shock last Friday when a blanket of snow once again covered Ames.

The spring calving season got underway a couple of weeks ago with the first baby calf born at the McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm near Chariton. Tim Goode, farms manager, said they expect around 300 Black Angus calves to be born this spring.

Students in Associate Teaching Professor Mike Rentz's NREM 330: Principles of Interpretation class took advantage of the warmer weather earlier this semester to do some fun, outdoor learning. As submitted by Rentz: "I was demonstrating 'Oh Deer' from Project Wild, a collection of educational activities. The exercise is intended for a range of student ages (can be scaled up or down) but connects habitat with deer: the 'habitat' students choose which habitat feature (food, water, space, shelter) they will be, while the 'deer,' with their backs turned, choose which habitat feature they will search for. Once the deer turn around, they need to race for a matching feature. If they miss out, they die and become habitat. If they match, they reproduce (turn habitat into another deer), and thus lower the amount of habitat remaining to go around. Of course, my habitat quickly cheated and decided to force shortages of some habitat features. Once I added a mountain lion, it was game over and deer were extirpated. In 10 years of teaching and using this exercise, that has never happened before....Students are always surprising :)"

Daffodils covered by a blanket of snow.Momma cow standing and watching her baby calf in a fenced in field.A line of students get instructions from their instructor, while a group of students stands waiting in the background.Group of students running toward another group of students outside next to an open prairie field. Buildings can be seen in the background.