Fans of the Future

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Cyclone Athletics connects kids to
ISU through the Junior Cyclone Club

Today’s kids are involved in countless activities, plugged into technology, and continually presented with a smorgasbord of entertainment options, leaving college athletics administrators everywhere with burning questions: Is there still room for good, old-fashioned sports fandom? Who will be the fans of the future?

At Iowa State, there’s reason to believe that the Cyclone fan of tomorrow is the kindergartener of today who high-fives Meredith Burkhall on the Hilton concourse after a women’s basketball victory, the fourth-grader who comes early to the spring football game so he can get  one-on-one coaching from Zeb Noland,  or the middle schooler who hosts her birthday party at a Cyclone gymnastics meet. Developed two decades ago as the “Lil’ Clone Club” by Cyclone women’s  basketball coach Bill Fennelly (L) to encourage game attendance among young families, today’s Junior Cyclone Club is one of the largest collegiate booster clubs for youth in the country, and Iowa State  is banking on the idea that this significant  investment in the future fan will ultimately pay major dividends.

“We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on our [youth] club compared to a lot of schools because we think it’s very important,” says Mary Pink (MEd ’10), ISU’s longtime associate athletics director for marketing.

When it began as a women’s basketball program initiative, the original Lil’ Clone Club attracted families by offering free T-shirts and souvenirs, priority seating, and a pizza party. Today, the Junior Cyclone Club offers, for only $59 per year, free admission to all football, women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, and softball events, as well as priority to purchase student seats for men’s basketball games that happen during winter break. The club, which has averaged around 5,000 members over the last five years, has added special free events ranging from sports clinics to the annual Cyclone FanFest and even movie nights in Jack Trice Stadium. The goal, Pink says, is to engage Millennials and members of Generation Z by offering what they crave most: one-of-a-kind experiences.

Among the families that have embraced the experiences Junior Cyclone Club has to offer is the Tubbs family of Des Moines. Over the last decade, Joanne Wilson Tubbs (L)(’94 music) says her three children have done everything from discovering their personal passions to forging friendships with student-athletes and fans.

“It’s not just the tickets and the high fiving,” Tubbs says. “The kids get to do clinics with the coaches and do special jobs like guest announcer at a volleyball game. They are going deeper than just, ‘Here’s a T-shirt and a ticket.’ They are really trying to engage kids in new ways. Every year, there’s something new. Even college kids don’t get to experience some of these things that the Junior Cyclone Club kids get to do.”

Tubbs and her husband, Peter Tubbs (L)(’92 telecommunicative arts, MBA ’10), are the busy parents of 15-year-old Julia, 11-year-old Carl, and 9-year-old Miles, who attend nearly 40 Junior Cyclone Club events every year.

“They’ve been back in the locker rooms, they’ve been behind the scenes, and it makes them feel so comfortable,” Tubbs says. “Campus now feels like home. They see themselves going to Iowa State because of their love for campus, their love for the Cyclones. They see it as super welcoming and not intimidating.”

Her great seats for Cyclone athletics events have benefited Julia in an unexpected way. She started bringing a camera and, through hours of practice from a great vantage point, has become an award-winning photographer.

“Every year she’ll take anywhere from 500 to 700 athletic pictures at Iowa State,” Tubbs says of her daughter. “She’ll enter her best ones at the State Fair and she’s actually won some pretty amazing awards; she  even got a small scholarship from Iowa State. They saw one of her pictures at the Fair and attached an award to it.”

Creating opportunities for young Cyclone fans to have incredible experiences is fully in line with athletics director Jamie Pollard’s vision. From transitioning local golf outings into the more family-friendly Cyclone Tailgate Tour to helping spearhead the uber-popular movie night events, Pink says Pollard (L) has been integral in expanding the Junior Cyclone Club’s reach.

“He’s really seen the value,” Pink says. “He was the one who actually said, ‘Let’s offer the Iowa game for football and make it a whole package.’ He was the one who brought up the idea of doing a pregame tunnel on the field. He always wants us to be more engaging of a broader range of families and kids.”

Offering prime seats for men’s basketball is another way Junior Cyclone Club stands out from its peers nationally, Pink says.

“We were really surprised and appreciative of what they’re doing with men’s basketball,” Tubbs says. “They can fill that place up and could have taken a step back [with Junior Cyclone Club benefits], but they didn’t. We were in the second row for Okie State. Crazy!”

18318357_10212291854429476_2133812422_oCrazy is one word Tubbs says she might normally use to describe her decision to let two young boys stay up to attend an 8 o’clock basketball game on a weeknight, but the experience was one her sons will never forget. They even made a sign (pictured at right), which received lots of TV attention, praising their mother for letting them “stay up late.”

Ultimately, Tubbs and Pink both agree, it’s those experiences that will become enduring memories and therefore the foundation of a lifetime relationship with Iowa State.

“It’s now more important than ever to engage kids with your brand at an early age,” Pink says. “You have a lot of competing forces for their attention and their  attendance, so we’re just always finding new ways to work with how kids and families today operate to engage them with Iowa State.”

Learn more at www.jrcycloneclub.com


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Cy’s Surprise

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Everybody’s favorite bird takes kids on a great ISU adventure in this exclusive new LegaCY Club book for young children

In a cozy straw nest
In a tree way up high
Lived a red baby bird
His friends called him Cy

He was loyal and true
And his spirit was great
His home and his heart
Were at Iowa State

Thus begins the long-awaited book, Cy’s Surprise, published  by the ISU Alumni Association for children and grandchildren of Iowa State alumni and friends.

Written by Kate Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) and illustrated by Tara Gartin (’87 graphic design), Cy’s Surprise is the premier LegaCY Club gift, aimed  at toddler and preschool-age children. The 24-page book is available exclusively  to families who enroll their children  and grandchildren in the ISU Alumni  Association’s newly expanded LegaCY Club.

Bruns, the associate director of communications for the ISU Alumni Association, began working on the book several years ago, and she had a vision to make Cy, the ISU mascot, relatable to children.

“I really felt like I wanted kids to be able to relate to Cy as more than just this rock-star figure in their lives, and instead to have Cy be more like them,” Bruns said. “So I really liked the idea of having him start as a baby and grow up and learn some of the lessons that I think most parents hope their kids will learn as they explore the world.”

Bruns’ “Dr. Seuss gene” came in handy in telling the lighthearted tale of Cy’s adventure on the Iowa State campus, and Gartin’s own love of the Dr. Seuss style played into the colorful illustrations that give Cy a childlike personality as he evolves from a baby bird to spreading his wings and becoming an active participant on campus.

“I really wanted Cy to be curious, because he’s discovering all the things that he can do at Iowa State,” Gartin said. “He’s kind of naïve at first. He’s exploring Iowa State, and he doesn’t know exactly what he’s getting into, and so it’s like an adventure for him. At one point in the story he suddenly realizes, ‘Oh, at Iowa State you can do all these different things!’ And it’s like an explosion of all the things he’s doing. It’s pretty funny.”

“I’m so excited about how Tara took the text and just ran with it and made these beautiful, adorable, funny images  that I just think are going to be really appealing,” Bruns said. “I read my 5-year-old son the story and he loved it, but after I showed him the pictures he got extra excited about it.”

Author Kate Bruns:
Cy and the family clone

Bruns Family PhotoAs far back as she can remember, Kate Adams Bruns (A)(’99 journ & mass comm) knew two things: She loved to write, and she loved Iowa State.

The writing began first.

“I’ve been writing rhyming poems since I was very, very young,” Bruns said. “Ever since I was probably 2 or 3 years old, my favorite form of play was to create books or, as I got a little bit older, to write things about Iowa State.”

Iowa State played a huge role in her childhood. Some of her most magical memories are of the times she accompanied her father, David Adams (L)(’73 metallurgical engineering), to Iowa State basketball games.

“That was kind of a special treat because we just had two tickets, and so the two of us would go,” she said. “We’d always stop at the gas station, and he’d let me get candy to eat in the car, and that was always cool. We would come up here for basketball games; when I got older we came to all the football games, too.”

Her family came to VEISHEA every spring – the colder the parade, the more vivid the memories, she said – and her dad often took her inside the big, imposing buildings.
Bruns’ father was “far and away the biggest influence” on her Iowa State connection, but a great-grandmother and an uncle also graduated from ISU, and her mother, Deborah Adams (L), and brother David, both University of Northern Iowa grads, have enthusiastically embraced the cardinal and gold.

So it was no surprise when Bruns enrolled in the journalism and mass communication program in the fall of 1996. And it was a happy coincidence that at  age 17 she met Ben Bruns (A)(’01 construction engineering) and helped convince him to accept the offer to play Cyclone football.

“I was already in my Iowa State recruitment mode before I was even in the future-
husband recruitment mode,” she said. “I jumped on the fact that he was being recruited by Iowa State for football before  I really thought about him in any other way.”

Ben and Kate, married since 2000, have a 5-year-old son, C.J., who has not surprisingly visited campus regularly, attending basketball and a few football games and spending time at Reiman Gardens. As business development director for the Weitz Company, Ben has had a hand in many of the new campus constructions and renovations, so C.J.’s parents often point out “the buildings that Daddy helped make.”

Kate says she and Ben won’t pressure C.J. into enrolling at Iowa State when the time comes but says he may end up at ISU.

“He may end up in a similar situation to mine, where it’s just been such a big part of his life for so long,” she said.

Illustrator Tara Gartin:
Surrounded by Cyclones

gartinfamilyTara Gartin’s Iowa State family tree is strong and growing larger every year.

Her father, Larry Lockwood (’61 architecture), graduated from Iowa State, and HIS father attended. Her mom, Dallas Lockwood, attended, and her husband, Timothy Gartin (MA ’92 English), is an ISU grad.

Her oldest son, Nathan, took classes at Iowa State. Son Peter is an ISU senior in physics and math, daughter Elizabeth is an ISU sophomore in public relations and anthropology, and youngest son, Joshua, is a high school sophomore who’s eyeing Iowa State’s theatre program.

That’s a lot of connections for someone  who grew up in Overland  Park, Kan., and knew the  state of Iowa mostly from walking beans at her uncle’s farm.

But her father’s connection to the  College of Design drew her to Iowa State.

“The one thing we’ve shared in common was art,” Gartin said. “He’s always encouraged me in my artwork, and since he studied here it was easy for him to say, ‘This is a great place to go for design.’ When we came to visit, it was obvious that it was an excellent graphic design program, so it was a perfect fit for me.”

Gartin’s experiences at Iowa State included living in Helser and Friley  Halls all four-and-a-half years she attended school, plus she played oboe  in the University Wind Ensemble and  Symphony Orchestra.

Gartin (’87 graphic design) worked as a graphic designer after graduating from Iowa State, including a number of years on campus. She took time off to raise and home-school her four children before launching into a new career as a children’s-book illustrator. She also volunteers as president of Story Theatre Company, a side job that involves promotional work, painting, and animation for the stage.

Today, with two kids enrolled at Iowa State, she stays connected through their activities. She also encouraged her sister’s daughter, Courtney Cooley, who lives in Kansas, to attend ISU. Courtney is a freshman in the College of Design.

BONUS: Read an expanded Q&A with the author and illustrator online.


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Connecting with kids

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Creating a new generation of Cyclones through early awareness, fan involvement, academic outreach, and family connections

A stack of colorful crayons on a white backgroundOne of the most powerful legacies a parent or grandparent can leave a child is the legacy of higher education. And for parents and grandparents who profess to “bleeding cardinal and gold,” the Iowa State Alumni Association’s newly expanded LegaCY Club can help children feel like they belong in the Iowa State  family long before they’re old enough to start thinking about applying to college.

Under the direction of Alumni  Association assistant director for member services Sarah Craw (A), the LegaCY  Club not only connects little Cyclones to Iowa State but also deepens the connection for their parents and grandparents.

“When parents or grandparents enroll their children or grandchildren, it’s a way to connect these future potential students, but it’s also a way for them to connect themselves back to their own university,” Craw said. “Engaging your child or grandchild helps you remember all the things you loved about Iowa State, and the gifts
we’ve pulled together are really going to help share Cyclone spirit throughout childhood. The new children’s book, Cy’s Surprise, will especially bring back a lot
of nostalgia for being on campus.”

Launching as an expanded program in July 2017, the LegaCY Club will educate the children and grandchildren of ISU Alumni Association members about Iowa State and the meaning of being a Cyclone through age-appropriate gifts and activities (see the sidebar at right for a complete list). The LegaCY Club also provides another point of connection and pride for ISU Alumni Association members.

For families whose connections with Iowa State have skipped a generation, the LegaCY Club will allow children to create their own legacy. In fact, the program is open to all Iowa State friends who are members of the Alumni Association and who wish to connect their children  or grandchildren with the university they’ve grown to love.

“Fourth- and fifth-generation families are exciting, but first-generation students are exciting, too,” Craw said. “We’re  extending this program to high school- and college-age students by hosting events on campus. We want to engage students the moment they step on campus, and this program helps us do that long before that. We want legacy students to know that they already have a home with the Iowa State Alumni Association.”

LegaCY Club offers gifts and benefits for little Cyclones everywhere

Legacy Club productsAs a member of the LegaCY Club, your child or grandchild will receive:

• Birth to age 2: Cy’s Surprise, an exclusive children’s book written and illustrated by Iowa State alumnae Kate Bruns and Tara Gartin, respectively
• Age 2: Cyclone growth chart
• Age 5: Cyclone backpack
• Age 7: Cyclone bank, to encourage saving for college
• Age 10: Cyclone school notebook and pen
• Age 13: Cyclone sleepover pillowcase
• Age 16: Cyclone car decal and keychain for new drivers
• All ages: Yearly Cyclone birthday cards
• Upon graduation from Iowa State: LegaCY cord
• Plus: a LegaCY Club certificate and invitations to LegaCY Club events

Learn more and sign up online at www.isualum.org/legaCY.


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Career calling

Legendary point guard Monte Morris reflects on a long career that has enriched him and his university

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Elite college basketball players rarely have four-year careers anymore — a fact that makes Monte Morris’ choice to spend four years at Iowa State University one of the most meaningful things he’s ever done.

For Morris, a four-year career meant becoming only the second member of his family to earn a college degree. It meant besting seemingly unbreakable records held by an ISU and NBA legend. It meant becoming so completely immersed in the nation’s college basketball fraternity that, when beating Kansas coach Bill Self on his home court, he gives you a high five during the game.

“I want people to know that even though I struggled at first, I didn’t cut corners,” Morris says. “I didn’t want to leave this place because it’s like home. I was as loyal to this university as it was to me, and I learned a lot, saw a lot. I’m blessed and thankful that I came to Iowa State.”

Growing up in Flint, Mich., Morris spent a lot of time as a gym tagalong with his basketball-coaching single mother, Latonia. In those gyms is where he first met Flint native and Michigan State legend Mateen Cleaves, who remains a close friend and mentor to Morris today. It’s also where he met former ISU star Jeff Grayer, another Flint native who was persistent in telling the young Morris how good he’d look in the Cardinal & Gold gear Grayer was always donning. Both Morris and his mother were skeptical about what Ames had to offer. Until, that is, they saw it for themselves.

“My mom always said we weren’t going down here because ‘What’s in Iowa?’ But they just kept calling,” Morris recalls. “So I went. And after seeing the campus and meeting the people it was literally two days after we got back that I told my mom this is where I wanted to be. I came back with all the gear and Grayer was like, ‘There you go.’ I committed on my birthday in 2012.”

To say Morris committed to Iowa State and has never looked back would not exactly be accurate. He faced dark times during his college career. His home city faced a devastating crisis in 2014 when it was revealed that the city’s drinking water was severely contaminated. He lost his grandfather, with whom he was extremely close. And in 2016, Morris’ former Cyclone teammate and close friend Bryce Dejean-Jones was shot and killed. But he leaned on teammates and friends during those times and became even more grateful for his support networks at home and at Iowa State.

But in 2015, Morris’ foundations were shaken by the news that Fred Hoiberg was departing Ames for a job with the Chicago Bulls. “I honestly thought about transferring,” he admits. “Coach Fred taught me how to be a pro and how to live life in Ames under the microscope. He was just a cool guy. I wondered if the new coach would let us do the same things Coach Fred did.”

But now, Morris says, he hasn’t spent a minute regretting his eventual decision to trust in Steve Prohm.

“He’s someone who’s been good for me in my life, both on the court and spiritually,” Morris says. “I love his kid, Cass, and [Coach Prohm and I] have grown together over the past year and a half.”

During his four years at Iowa State University, Morris says he’s embraced the complete college experience — including football Saturdays with friends, classes and community service, discovering his passion for the fashion industry and even bowling. And yes, making lifelong friendships with teammates like Georges Niang — someone Morris says inspired him to improve his diet and exercise habits, DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim — elder statesmen who helped Morris mature quickly during his freshman season, and Naz Mitrou-Long — someone Morris describes with one simple phrase: “If I had a kid, I would want him to be just like Naz.”

“I’m so glad I stayed. There’s nothing I will regret here at this university,” Morris says. “I did everything I wanted to do here.”

“Everything” includes two very prominent achievements on Morris’ list that couldn’t have happened without a senior season. In January 2017, he was able to change his phone’s screen saver from a picture of the number “665” — the Iowa State career assist record that was formerly held by now-New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek — when he surpassed it at Vanderbilt. In February, he also surpassed Hornacek’s career steals milestone.

“I wanted to go somewhere where I could leave my legacy,” Morris says. “But I also wanted to come somewhere where my spot wasn’t just going to be thrown at me, where I could work for minutes and get rewarded for it. And that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do here.”

And in May, Morris will walk across the stage in Hilton Coliseum as a liberal studies graduate — something he hopes will help him pursue his future career goals of working in both the fashion and sports broadcasting industries.

“My mom wasn’t able to get her degree because she had me when she was [a student-athlete] at Grand Valley State,” Morris says. “Without a father figure around my mom took so much on her shoulders. She worked overtime hours so I could get things for Christmas and for my birthday, when things were rough and I didn’t even know how rough they were. Now I just want to give it all back to her.”

Earning his college degree, Morris says, was one of the ways he felt like he could pay back his mom.

But, despite her heartfelt desire to see him come back to ISU for his senior season, she never pressured him. Latonia Morris, who still lives in a home piled with bottled water in Flint, is the ultimate example of a strong woman, her son says. She’s Iowa State’s biggest fan, traveling to many Cyclone games and storing every one on her DVR so she can break down film with her son. (“When I broke the career assists record at Vanderbilt, I also fouled out,” Morris remembers, laughing. “She didn’t say anything about [the record]; she just said ‘Stop fouling, stop going over guys’ backs.’”) She’s been a loving and steady influence on her son, who has achieved at college basketball’s highest levels with her support.

But she also, Morris says, never forced a basketball into her son’s hands.

“I think basketball, they say, sometimes can find you,” Morris says. “[Mom] had me at the gym a lot but she never forced me. The game definitely found me. I think it called on me.”

Iowa State is all the better for Morris’ answer.


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

World Food Prize puts Iowa in the international spotlight

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When Keegan Kautzky was a freshman at Iowa State, he was signed up for a study-abroad experience in Italy that was cancelled because of the September 11th attacks.

Liz Beck (L)(’74 history, MA ’77), then the head of the ISU Honors Program, told Kautzky (L)(’04 political science) at the time that if he wanted to start learning about global issues he didn’t need to travel to Europe. He just needed to intern at the World Food Prize in Des Moines.

“So that’s what I did,” Kautzky said. “I met Norm [Borlaug] and Ambassador [Kenneth] Quinn, and it changed everything and the rest of my life. And it’s fascinating because it was in my backyard that I could make a real difference and interact with world leaders and tackle these issues; it wasn’t just in traveling globally on a study-abroad. It was 30 minutes from campus and 25 miles from my hometown.”

Thus began Kautzky’s 15-year adventure with the World Food Prize and its many facets: state and global youth institutes, the Iowa Hunger Summit, the Borlaug Dialogue, and World Food Prize laureate program.

Today Kautzky is a director of national education programs along with fellow Iowa State graduate Libby Pederson Crimmings (’04 art and design). They travel “non-stop” for months every year, organizing and facilitating youth institutes in 21 states, a program that has seen exponential growth.

“Nine years ago [the youth institute program] was [only] in Iowa, with about 55 to 60 students who participated, and now we’re in 20 more states with about 10,000 students participating nationally,” Kautzky said. It’s conceivable, he said, that in the next fi ve years, the program could scale up to reach a million students in 50 states.

The World Food Prize youth institutes are culminations of year-round work by high school students across the nation. In Iowa last year, about 6,000 students were involved in school- and community-based service-learning activities, research projects, and papers, and of those students about 300 came to the day-long Iowa Youth Institute on the ISU campus in April, hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Each fall, during the Borlaug Dialogue event week – which attracts leaders from all over the globe who come together to discuss the many possible solutions to solving world hunger and poverty – a three-day Global Youth Institute engages 200 high school delegates from the state youth institutes and internationally.

The students chosen for that event are not necessarily the school valedictorians, Kautzky explained. “It’s the students who are the most passionate,” he said. “They have just incredible promise; they want to work hard and make a difference in their community. A big part of what we’re trying to create through those youth institutes is a way to engage broadly all students with these issues and to identify kids that really care. There’s a
lot of energy, a lot of ideas, a lot of passion.”

“Dr. Borlaug’s idea was that we need to create a way not just to engage and educate but to identify those passionate young people and then help them see the pathways and how they can use their interests to make a real difference in the world,” Crimmings added.

In addition to the youth programs and Borlaug Dialogue, the 12-person staff of the World Food Prize Foundation also facilitates an annual Iowa Hunger Summit, an Iowa Hunger Directory, World Food Prize internships, special events, and more.

Catherine Swoboda (L)(’08 agronomy, MS ’10 crop production & physiology) has been a big part of the planning and execution of those events. From 2011 through the end of 2016, Swoboda worked first as the World Food Prize director of Iowa and Midwest education programs and most recently as director of planning for the Borlaug Dialogue. So she knows what it takes for a small staff to pull off local, international, and international events – sometimes simultaneously.

“This is a small staff that works yearround to plan those events. And when I reflect on what that’s like, I guess the thing that really comes to my mind is the tremendous sense of mission here,” she said. “It’s really amazing what you can accomplish with a small team when they’re devoted to the mission.”

Swoboda, now a lecturer in ISU’s Department of Global Resource Systems, was born and raised in Des Moines. She became involved with the World Food Prize in high school.

“It was really stunning to be a part of the World Food Prize staff ,” she said, “and it really wasn’t until then that I had an appreciation of the regard with which such leaders from all over the world hold our state, and the respect and admiration that they have for our state’s legacy in terms of agriculture and humanitarianism.”


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

The future is about feeding the world, but it is more than feeding the world

FK_casual1An essay by Fred Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at ISU’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The question “How are we going to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?” now routinely appears in the popular press. Posing the question in this way, important as it is, implies that if we just figure out how to produce more food, we can solve the problem of hunger. There are several problems with this assumption.

First, as I wrote in a column in our quarterly Leopold Center newsletter, scholars had already pointed out in 2012 that we were producing enough food to feed 10 billion people, yet almost a billion were chronically hungry. It certainly suggests that we have to come to terms with the fact that solving the hunger problem is not simply a matter of producing adequate amounts of food. Hunger is caused by an array of problems including poverty, inequality, food waste, food access, and ignoring the issue of the “right to food.” In this regard, the amount of food we produce that is wasted is particularly troubling. By some estimates, today we waste at least 40 percent of the food that we produce. The good news is, many people in the food system are beginning to deal with this problem.

Second, posing the problem of a growing human population as simply a feeding challenge ignores another reality – the “carrying capacity” of the planet. For the last several centuries, we have lived in a culture that assumes nature is mostly “out there” and nature is simply a collection of objects from which we humans are largely separate, and therefore we can make nature do whatever we want in our own interests. However, humans are actually an integral part of nature. We can only thrive and be healthy as long as the rest of nature is healthy.

As Aldo Leopold stated almost 100 years ago, nature’s health should be defined in terms of her capacity for “self-renewal.” The Earth’s capacity for self-renewal is dependent upon a balance of interrelationships of all of life. For that reason, nature never tolerates a “density” of any species. All species are interdependent and must be limited in ways in which they contribute to the self-renewing capacity of the whole. Humans are not exempt from this law of ecology.

This suggests that Wendell Berry’s insight regarding problems is exceptionally relevant. To define a problem as a single tactic phenomenon – like solving the hunger problem by simply producing more food – fails to recognize that singular problems are actually a “pattern of problems” and we have to address the interrelated pattern and “not just some handily identifiable and simplifiable aspect of it.”

Consequently, as author Donald Worster asserts, the “limits of growth” concept involves both the amount of economic growth and the growth of the human population on the planet. It is for these reasons that we must now abandon our fetish for economic growth. Regenerating life on Earth must have a higher priority than producing as much as possible. While economic well-being is important, it will always be dependent on the self-renewing capacity of the resources on which economic growth depends. If we are interested in a healthy, well-fed human population, we need to redefine growth in terms of the wealth of nature, rather than the wealth of nations.

References:
1. Leopold Letter, Vol. 24, No. 4, winter 2012
2. Worster, Donald, 2016; Shrinking the Earth: The Rise and Decline of American Abundance, New York, Oxford University Press
3. Berry, Wendell, 1981; “Solving for pattern,” Chapter 9 in The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural & Agricultural, San Francisco, North Point Press

This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Solar food dehydrator battles food waste

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“I came to Iowa State with an interest in development. I’ve always had a passion for helping others and I love to travel,” Mikayla Sullivan says. A senior double-majoring in global resource systems and administration in agriculture with a minor in political science, Sullivan combined her interests into one unique business venture: KinoSol.

KinoSol is a company and a product – one Sullivan helped co-found alongside other student entrepreneurs Elise Kendall, Ella Gehrke, and Clayton Mooney.

“KinoSol is a social-good startup focused on saving energy and decreasing post-harvest loss in developing countries,” Sullivan said. e team created a mobile, solar-powered food dehydrator for fruits, vegetables, insects, and grains that will increase food preservation and is currently being sold worldwide.

Yet, how does an Iowa State student go from cramming for tests to selling an invention around the globe? It’s the unique Iowa State student experience – one full of hands-on opportunities to succeed.

The KinoSol team was one of the first groups to participate in CYstarters, a 10-week summer student accelerator launched in 2016 by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship for students or recent graduates to focus on their startup ideas. “CYstarters is the only accelerator program for students I have ever heard about that provides funding, housing, and mentoring to help get your idea off the ground,” Sullivan said.

Within the past year, Sullivan has also traveled to Ireland to attend a startup conference and to Thailand to complete needs assessments focused on food security.

Before KinoSol, Sullivan needed the space to truly pursue her passions. “Receiving scholarship support provided me the opportunity to spend my time figuring out what I’m passionate about. I could spend time in clubs, travel for internships, and hone my business skills instead of having to seek out a job in order to cover tuition,” she said.

“Starting a business while still in college is something most people don’t do, or don’t always understand. Life becomes a balancing act between the business and school, and many times I have to sacrifice extra social time in order to keep working on KinoSol. But knowing I could leave a big impact on the world puts a lot of things into perspective for me.”

If it weren’t for scholarship support in the earlier years of Sullivan’s college career, KinoSol may have never come to fruition. But because of the opportunities and support offered to her as a student, she can look ahead to tackling one of the biggest challenges to date: world hunger.

Student support – including scholarship funding and global opportunities – is one of the three main aspirations of the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign. To learn more about the campaign vision or how to get involved, visit www.ForeverTrueISU.com.


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.