Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Garrett Burchett

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

ImageDavenport, Iowa
Life Member

In 2010, Garrett (’03 community and regional planning, MS ’05) and his brother – a fellow ISU alum – took a chance on a dream and started Mississippi River Distilling Company to create home grown, handmade spirits in the Quad Cities. As evidenced by his use of local growers and farmers to help manufacture the product, Garrett is a firm believer in the family farm and in the stewardship of land and water resources. The Burchett brothers are known for emphasizing quality over quantity when making premium vodka, gin, and whiskey using a handcrafted German still. Thanks to the company’s commitment to quality, Mississippi River Distilling received the “Renew Rural Iowa” award from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Its products can now be found on many store shelves in Iowa and beyond, making the company an Iowa success story after only a few short years in operation.

Garrett on…

…his favorite ISU tradition: “football tailgates”

….what would make the world a better place: “if there were more Cyclones in it!”

…the movie he’s always quoting: “The Big Lebowski”

…what’s next for him: “Continuing to build a solid business here in Iowa. We plan to expand the reaches of the Mississippi River Distilling Company to include distribution in over 30 states.”



Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:

1) On Friday night, students from ISU’s apparel, events, and hospitality management program held a “trashion show” at North Grand Mall. The event was designed to showcase sustainable student creativity by asking designers to create clothing from recycled materials. In honor of Earth Month, proceeds from the event were donated to the Audubon Society to support clean water projects in central Iowa.


2) Also on Friday night was the Student Alumni Leadership Council’s fifth annual “Nearly Naked Mile,” which saw students strip off excess layers of clothing, donate them to charity, and take a run around campus to celebrate spring…and giving to a good cause. Watch for more photos from this event to be posted on our Facebook page in the coming days. They’re always ridiculous.


nazlongisudiff3) Last week the ISU Foundation launched a new social media campaign aimed at sharing how ISU students dream of making a difference. Watch the introductory video here, and watch for the hashtag #ISUDifference on Twitter, where students are currently being encouraged to share what they hope to someday do to make a difference in the world. We’re also using #ISUDifference on our Twitter feed to show how alumni, students, and friends have been making a difference through participation in Cy’s Days of Service projects. There’s still time to submit your project. In fact, please do!

4) After the abrupt cancellation of its Stars Over Veishea production of Into the Woods earlier this month, the ISU theatre department is regrouping and gearing up for its final show of the school year — My Grandparents in the War, which opens Thursday at Fisher Theater.

5) The Iowa State men’s and women’s golf teams both finished fourth at their respective Big 12 championships last weekend, with men’s golfer Sam Daley earning runner-up medalist honors with an impressive 286 (72-74-69-71). Daley was one of three Cyclones who placed in the top 10. The women’s team had two golfers finish in the top 10. The highly-ranked women’s team had already locked up a spot in the NCAA regionals going into the conference meet, but the men’s team may very well have punched an otherwise unavailable ticket with its performance in Texas.

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Erin Curtis

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

St. Charles, Mo.
Annual Member

Curtis photoErin (’10 kinesiology and exercise science) dedicated much of her student career to serving ISU Dance Marathon – the university’s largest philanthropy, which benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In fact, she jokingly dreamed of someday becoming a “professional Dance Marathoner.” Little did she know that, just a few years later, her dream would come true. Today Erin works for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as a Dance Marathon program manager, working to grow 60 existing programs in her territory as well as establish new ones. At the University of Oklahoma, Erin has helped grow a small, unwanted program into an incredible tradition that raised $300,000 this year. She has helped guide students at the University of Central Florida to fundraising increases of more than double in back-to-back years. Of course she gives all the credit to the students, but Erin’s personal passion for the Dance Marathon program is truly contagious and has helped her fulfill the goal of “inspiring this generation to fight for the next.”

Erin on…

…what would make the world a better place: “if Cy was president”

…her dream job: “In an absolute fantasy world, I’d love to dance in a Broadway show.”

…the everyday items she can’t live without: “Sweatpants and Diet Mountain Dew. I work from home, so my work wardrobe is pretty flexible. And I don’t drink coffee, but still need my caffeine during the day.”

…what’s next for her: “I’m really hoping to enter into a doctor of physical therapy program in the next year or two and eventually work in a pediatric hospital. Other than those career ambitions, I also want to travel the world! Top destinations on my list include Australia, anywhere in Africa, Egypt, and Greece. I’d also love to catch a baseball game in all the MLB stadiums across the U.S. – preferably when the St. Louis Cardinals are in town!”

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Angela Fredericks Anderson

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Ankeny, Iowa
Annual Member

Anderson photoAngela (’05 public service & administration in agriculture) is the manager of food chain outreach for the National Pork Board in Des Moines – a unique position that was created with the goal of providing accurate information about pig farming after a number of food companies began banning specific on-farm practices to due activist pressure. Today she works to educate others about the industry, representing more than 69,000 American pig farmers in the process. Throughout her already-impressive career in agriculture and higher education, she has focused on service – whether it was in her position as a chapter/colony consultant for her sorority, Sigma Kappa; as an agricultural education recruiter for the University of Minnesota, where she also earned her master’s degree; or with the Iowa FFA Foundation, where directed the organization’s enrichment center and even served as interim executive director. Angela also spent 2 ½ years serving as the executive director of the Iowa Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization, which provides leadership training and professional development for students across the state.

Angela on…

…her favorite college memory: “Serving on the Collegiate Panhellenic Council with 14 outstanding women from different sorority chapters on campus. These women truly have become great friends, mentors, and professional peers in my life.”

…what would make the world a better place: “If Facebook never existed! There are just some things we do not need to know about everybody.”

…the everyday item she can’t live without: “coffee”

…what she hopes to achieve: “Help define agricultural social responsibility for today’s consumers and farmers. Understanding how to bridge a gap between emotion and science toward farming practices will be critical for both the consumer and the farmer to rebuild trust in our American food system.”



Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:

George_Washington_Carver_0826051608321) Wednesday is the Symposium to Celebrate George Washington Carver’s Legacy, an event honoring the 150th anniversary of the noted scientist and ISU alumnus’ legacy. Organized by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the one-day event at the Scheman Building will feature speakers such as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, ISU President Steven Leath, George Washington Carver Endowed Chair and Professor of Agronomy Andrew Manu, Tuskegee University provost Walter Hill, and DuPont Pioneer president Paul Schickler. An afternoon panel discussion will focus on how to develop and nurture the “future Carvers” — current and prospective students in agricultural sciences.

2) President Leath has named his VEISHEA Task Force, which will be chaired by vice president for student affairs Tom Hill — who helped guide the university through the aftermath of the 2004 riots. Another “VEISHEA disturbance alum” on the task force will be Sophia Magill, who currently works in federal relations for ISU but was GSB president in 2004. Magill played an integral role on the task force 10 years ago. You can view a full list of task force members here. Leath has asked for the group to make its recommendations by the end of June.

3) How cool is Melvin Ejim, really? First he was named the Big 12 men’s basketball player of the year, then last week came the news that he’s also the Big 12 men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year (for the second year in a row). If he’s not the epitome of a student-athlete, we don’t know who is.

4) There are lots of ways natural beings respond to climate change, but shrinking in size? According to ISU professor of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology Dean Adams, that’s exactly what salamanders are doing.


5) The Student Alumni Leadership Council’s Senior Class Council is celebrating Senior Week this week. Today is the annual “Wieners for Senors” barbecue on central campus, and tomorrow is the grad breakfast at the Memorial Union (administrators and celebrities make omelets for graduating students). On Friday evening, the ISU Alumni Center will play host to the popular “Senior Sendoff.” (With two free Olde Main brews per person, it’s definitely the place to be.) Check out the Senior Week Web page here. In conjunction with the week, we’re also having our biannual Young Alumni Council meeting on campus Friday and Saturday.

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Jeremy Swanson

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Swanson photo NEW

Lehigh, Iowa

When it comes to advocating for agriculture, Jeremy (’05 agricultural systems technology) exhibits a quiet leadership that is really making a difference. An ag precision specialist for Mickelson Seeds, Jeremy also serves as chair of the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Advisory Committee and is a member of the Webster County Farm Bureau Board. He works every day to create a networking community for Iowa’s farmers. He uses the information he gains to develop programming and opportunities for young farmers, including programs on environmental education, estate planning, policy and advocacy, and more. In addition to his service to the farming community, Jeremy volunteers in his community in many ways, including as a judge and volunteer for the Boone County Aerospace Interest Group, a 4-H program he helped develop with the goal of growing youth interest in STEM fields. He also manages the volunteers who drive the “tractor trolleys” at all ISU home football games.

Jeremy on…

…his favorite ISU tradition: “Hilton Magic”

…his favorite college memory: “traveling with the pep band to the NIT Final 4 with the men’s basketball team”

…the everyday item he can’t live without: “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups”

…his life goal: “My goal is to be able to help my children or another young person get started farming some day.”



Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Matt England

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

England photo

Seattle, Wash.
Annual Member

After graduation Matt (’11 aerospace engr) was set to start his life in the Midwest, but late in his career decision-making process the Boeing Company (a company he called one of the most inspiring in the world when he visited as a youngster) came in and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: working as a flight test engineer on the 787 Dreamliner. Matt now travels the western United States testing what he describes as “magnificent $300 million machines.” While he does have a desk in a Boeing facility in Seattle, his office is essentially a workstation in a 787 Dreamliner, on which he studies flight maneuvers such as stalls, high-banked turns, and roller coasters. He has visited much of the western United States and even Alaska and Hawaii for his work. But although he’s often miles away and high up in the air, he remains connected to his alma mater as president of the ISU Alumni Association Club of Seattle. He was featured in the VISIONS Across America project this spring as a representative of the state of Washington.

Matt on…

…his favorite spot on the ISU campus: “The Knoll”

…his favorite college memory: “Countless memories at Acacia Fraternity. Too many to name specifically.”

…his favorite app: “Flappy Bird. The Mayor’s score was INSANELY good; I’m still embarrassingly stuck at 38.”

…his favorite quote: “’Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.’ – Abraham Lincoln”


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone Radar this week:

1) Of course the top story on campus this week is the VEISHEA that wasn’t. President Leath suspended the 2014 celebration on Wednesday after riots broke out in Campustown Tuesday night and a student was taken to the hospital with a head injury after being struck by a toppling light pole. Naturally, students and alumni were devastated by the news that the events would be canceled — whether they supported the action or not. And now, with the future of VEISHEA as we know it looking bleak, it has become a sad time on campus for all Iowa Staters. Here are some of the comments we have received at the Alumni Association:

“Obviously, VEISHEA contributes to the relaxed atmosphere that may give a few immature students the sense that normal rules don’t apply that week, but there’s no reason to believe these things wouldn’t happen occasionally without VEISHEA.”

“Although we haven’t heard why the VEISHEA riot started or who participated, I would hope that the identified participants would be dealt with swiftly and harshly, depending on the degree of participation, including expulsion from the university.”

“If ISU wishes to continue promoting itself as the birthplace of innovation and the training ground for adventurous problem solvers, we MUST be able to study, mitigate, diminish the likelihood, and cope with the inevitable aftermath of the unpredictable nature of the future.”

“The entitlement to attend college that the population feels now has diminished responsibility, pride, and self-control.  We now have several generations of those who give no regard to authority, moral responsibility, nor collegial professionalism. It is time for us to stop giving away the store by dismissing quality entrance requirements and academic as well as social responsibility.”

“ISU replaced the black eye of the riot by doubling down with the black eye of visitors who planned to attend. It’s a lose/lose deal.”

“Stopping planned VEISHEA events (thus flushing months of preparation by many) is a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t solve the problem. People should be held accountable for their actions no matter the time of year.”

“As is often the case, the irresponsible acts of a few will forever impact the many. President Leath and the Cabinet made the only choice available to them at this moment in time.”

“Don’t punish the masses for the stupidity of the few. Keep VEISHEA.”

“Since it’s become an embarrassment to the university, time to end this. So sad that today’s students have ruined what was a great tradition.”

This is just a sampling of the comments we received, and we encourage you to continue to share your thoughts with us as President Leath organizes his task force to determine the event’s future. We will keep you posted here, in VISIONS magazine, and in ISU News Flash.

2) It wasn’t the VEISHEA parade as you’d think of it, but a group of about 200 students, faculty/staff, and alumni marched Saturday morning in honor of the “true meaning of VEISHEA” and what makes Iowa State great, following along the parade route in a peaceful demonstration. Check out video and an article courtesy of the Des Moines Register. The words of the students interviewed in the video will touch your heart.

3) In lighter, non-VEISHEA news, Sunday’s Ames Tribune published its review of “VISIONS Across America: Portraits of Iowa State Alumni by Jim Heemstra.” We hope you’ll still make it out to the Brunnier Art Museum to see the show before Aug. 9. Catch it by the end of April and you can enter to win a gift basket courtesy of University Museums and the Alumni Association.

4) Tomorrow is the Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression in the Memorial Union from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and it’s a great chance to see what exactly it is that Iowa State students are studying — everything from asteroid deflection to zebrafish. At 3:45 p.m., ISU astronaut-in-residence Clayton Anderson will even present a session on “Science and Space.”

5) At least it has been a pretty good week for one person: Fred Hoiberg. Following a 28-win season that included a Big 12 tournament championship, The Mayor received a $600,000 raise this week. Hoiberg’s name has been mentioned with nearly every NBA job opening of late, so ISU athletics director Jamie Pollard took quick action in hopes of convincing him to stay home at ISU. “We recognize the tremendous accomplishments that have become commonplace during Fred’s tenure,” Pollard said in a released statement. “We play an exciting brand of basketball that has brought Hilton Magic back to life. Equally important, his players have been good students and ambassadors for the institution.”

ImageAt least one fellow ISU coach has a personal interest in Hoiberg’s ever-expanding bank account. Speaking at the Cyclone Gridiron Club Spring Game tailgate Saturday, head football coach Paul Rhoads — whose son, Wyatt, is famously taking Hoiberg daughter Paige to the Gilbert High School prom — joked about who would be paying for dinner that night. Hoiberg scored big on the recruiting trail this week as UNLV leading scorer Bryce DeJean-Jones announced his plans to transfer to Iowa State for his senior year, and the Iowa Nice Guy released another edition of the viral video “Love Letters to Fred Hoiberg” — this time featuring Fred himself. With a beard.

How many times must history repeat itself?

By Carole Gieseke, VISIONS editor

During my first official month as editor of VISIONS magazine – April 1997 – a 19-year-old man was murdered during Veishea. I can still remember driving into Ames on that Sunday and hearing the words “murder” and “Veishea” used in the same sentence on the radio. I was horrified.

Since that time I’ve watched three presidents of this university struggle to understand and deal with the problems caused by Veishea, a celebration that now has more than 90 years of tradition on the ISU campus.

EVEN BEFORE I ARRIVED AT IOWA STATE, the after-hours student celebration surrounding Veishea had become a flashpoint.

In just the second issue of VISIONS magazine (summer 1988), my predecessors ran the headline “Veishea riots stun ISU / Turbulent weekend clouds event’s future” along with a photo of Ames police in full riot gear. Thousands of overzealous partiers had turned into drunken, destructive rioters in Campustown for three consecutive nights. In part, the story said, “Veishea will never be the same” … “Temperatures in the 70s made conditions good for huge outdoor gatherings” … and “Preventive measures will be investigated thoroughly [including] developing more evening activities as alternatives to drinking.”

(Does this sound familiar to those of you who have been around more recently?)

The 1989 celebration was quieter, with cooler weather, tougher alcohol restrictions, and alcohol-free activities.

But it would not last. In 1992, an estimated 8,000 rioters “smacked Veishea with its second black eye in four years,” according to the summer 1992 issue of VISIONS. President Martin Jischke responded, “I believe, in the absence of change, we’re on the path to a real tragedy.” He said that the “official” Veishea must be revitalized as a university celebration and this newer, “unofficial” Veishea must be eliminated.

(Um, again, does this sound familiar? This was in 1992, folks. Even before social media.)

Jischke established a Veishea Task Force, which supported the continuation of Veishea but declared, “If violence occurs again, Veishea will not survive.”

The spring 1993 issue of VISIONS put Veishea on its cover, with an illustration of Humpty Dumpty and the headlines “Veishea on the wall” and “Can we put Veishea back together again?”

Veishea survived in 1993 with well-behaved students and visitors.

But in 1994, Veishea was in the news again with an estimated 2,000 property-damaging, rocks-and-bottle-throwing partiers in west Ames. The Ames police had to break up the party with mace.

(Hello! Are you seeing a pattern here?)

The summer 1994 issue of VISIONS said, “Saving Veishea was an exhausting task, keeping it saved will be no less so.”

SO NOW WE’RE UP TO 1997, when 19-year-old Uri Sellers was stabbed to death during a Veishea party. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t an Iowa State student. It doesn’t matter that the party was off campus. It happened during Veishea.

President Jischke said the university vowed to do its part to see that “this kind of senseless violence…doesn’t happen again.” VISIONS magazine devoted two pages to a series of opinions under the headline “What should we do about Veishea?”

In fall 1997, Jischke gave students an ultimatum: End Veishea, or make it alcohol-free. Five major student organizations signed the pledge to keep the campus and all related activities “dry” during Veishea 1998. The event was deemed a success, and students billed the 1999 Veishea as “the largest student-run alcohol-free celebration in the nation.”

By 2001, Veishea was still dry, but student groups were no longer required to sign a pledge. In 2002, the fifth year the festival was alcohol-free, arrests were down dramatically.

But in 2004, following a four-hour riot in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 18, ISU President Gregory Geoffroy announced that the 82-year-old student-run celebration would be suspended for a year while a task force assessed “the underlying cause of the disturbance and develop recommendations for minimizing the likelihood of similar disturbances in the future.”

(OK, so how many times have we done this now?)

But I have to give this group credit. It brought Veishea back in 2006 and made some major changes in the event.

“In the end, I decided I’m just not ready to give up on our students,” Geoffroy said optimistically during a March 23 press conference. I think most people agreed, although many in the Ames community were ready to put a stop to the festival then and there.

Locations were changed. Campustown activities were eliminated. More alternative activities were scheduled. A plan to educate students was put into place. And the “dry” Veishea policy was reworked, hoping to eliminate the growing problem of large, off-campus parties.

So in 2006 there was no special alcohol policy during Veishea, and the event was highly anticipated after a year without Veishea.

The next few years were fairly quiet. Veishea managed to fall on wet, cold, or even snowy weekends – which seems to help with crowd control more than anything else. But every year, Ames and campus police officers and ISU administrators held their collective breath.


On Tuesday night – TUESDAY NIGHT!!! Not even the weekend! – 3,000 to 5,000 people converged on Campustown, flipping over two cars, tearing down light poles, damaging street signs and other property, and throwing full beer cans and rocks at police who tried to stop the alcohol-fueled riot. An ISU student suffered severe head injuries when he was struck by a falling light pole, and emergency workers were temporarily unable to reach the injured man because of the crowd. Hundreds of young people were gleefully Tweeting and Instagramming the whole thing.

Wednesday morning, President Leath met with his cabinet, and at 1:30 in the afternoon he announced that the university would suspend the remainder of this year’s Veishea celebration effective at 5 p.m. And he made it very clear that the future of Veishea was in serious jeopardy.

“A safe environment is my and my staff’s No. 1 priority,” he told the large crowd gathered in the Memorial Union’s South Ballroom. “Veishea has been overshadowed by too many acts of this nature. This conduct is not going to be tolerated.”

So, here we are, going into what was supposed to be Veishea weekend, with no cherry pies or parade or SOV or Veishea Village to look forward to. Do you know how hard the Veishea Committee and hundreds of other people have worked to make this weekend a success? Do you know how much money has been spent…and how much revenue will be lost?

But before you think I’m opposed to the decision, let me just say that I’m not. For the past almost 30 years we’ve done everything we can think of to solve the Veishea problem, and it just keeps rearing its destructive, unruly head.

What choice did President Leath have, really? We’ve tried stressing the family-friendly parts of the celebration, we’ve tried enforcing stricter rules concerning alcohol consumption, we’ve tried to be more lenient with students who consume too much alcohol… and IT DOESN’T WORK. Nothing works. I can understand why students, alumni, and others are complaining about this draconian solution – cancelling this year’s celebration all together – but it’s the only solution. Even though it’s sad. Even though there are no winners here – only losers.

It’s too early to say what will happen next year and in future years. But one thing is for sure: Iowa State University cannot continue to sanction an event that has caused so much destruction, so much drunken behavior, so many injuries and loss of life.

Please feel free to let us know what you think, but do keep the past 30 years in mind when you offer your opinions and solutions. Because we’re living proof that history repeats itself.

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Maria Schwamman Charbonneaux

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Urbandale, Iowa

charbonneauxphotoMaria (’07 journalism) was still a student in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication when she first joined the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. In less than a decade with the high-profile publishing company, she has become a senior associate editor, currently working with “Do It Yourself,” a popular Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication. Her work offers direct guidance and inspiration to do-it-your-selfers; in addition to her research, writing, and editing, she’s also involved in photo shoots, creating website content, and managing the publication’s social media presence. Before joining the staff of “Do It Yourself,” Maria was an associate editor at “Kitchen+Bath Makeovers” and a staff writer for both “American Patchwork & Quilting” and “Scrapbooks etc.” A former managing editor of “Ethos” magazine and features editor at the Iowa State Daily, Maria is making the most of her lifelong passion for journalism.

Maria on…

…her favorite spot on the ISU campus: “The sidewalk that leads from Hamilton Hall to central campus. I logged a lot of hours in Hamilton, so I always savored those last steps outdoors before entering the building and looked forward to that first breath of fresh air after leaving.”

…her favorite college memory: “I can thank my part-time job at the University Book Store for many of my favorite college memories. In my first week there, I met two of my best friends and my future husband.”

…her guilty pleasures: “home-design blogs, antiques stores, and Netflix”

…her role models: “My grandmothers have both been pretty amazing examples of kindness, humility, perseverance, and hard work.”