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


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.

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


“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

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.

Creating a sustainable future

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Iowa State program is improving the lives of rural Ugandans, one person at a time

Since 2004, Iowa State’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods has made an impact on nearly 60,000 people in Uganda’s Kamuli District – one of the poorest regions of that East African country – by improving access to clean water, nutrition and health for mothers and infants, school gardens, livestock and entrepreneurial activities, and crop and livestock extension programs.

Last summer, VISIONS editor Carole Gieseke and photographer Jim Heemstra spent six days in Kamuli District, visiting schools, farms, homes, and nutrition centers. Their timing allowed them to shadow Iowa State service-learning students and attend local-level planning meetings. Here’s just a glimpse of this truly remarkable program.

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BETH BALWANA’S YOUNG SON, SIMON, was failing to thrive. At a year old, he was thin, malnourished, ill.

The future for this small boy living in Uganda’s rural Kamuli District was uncertain. And then Beth learned about an organization that changed his life – and hers.

The ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods had  established eight Nutrition Education Centers (NECs) at homes throughout the district. A friend told Beth the NECs would provide services that could help Simon and the rest of her children: nutrition education, healthy food preparation, and other tools that could improve the family’s health and sanitation.

After 6 months, Simon’s health improved. Today, he is a healthy, happy, active boy. During our visit to the family’s home, Simon climbed on the photographer, gleefully touching the cameras and running barefoot through the yard.

Beth and her husband, also named Simon, have much to be grateful for. Trainers at the NEC not only provided cups of thick, nutritious porridge to feed to their malnourished son, they also provided the seed needed to grow the ingredients for the porridge. Beth returned to the center each week for training and was accepted into a livestock extension program to learn to raise chickens. The resulting poultry project has added much-needed protein to her family’s diet, and income from the sale of eggs and birds has allowed them to pay school fees and repay the poultry loan.

Through a translator, Beth told us she is grateful for the support from the ISU-Uganda Program. “There is a change in our livelihood,” she said. “We were not well. ISU-UP gave us trainings and knowledge. Our children are healthy.”

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Establishing a sustainable presence
The Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) has been working together with the people of the Kamuli District since 2004. The center and its partners have addressed hunger and poverty through agriculture, nutrition, and youth education. As a result, the lives of thousands of families have been improved.

The project began in 2000 when Gerald (’62 agricultural business) and Karen (’08 honorary) Kolschowsky encouraged Iowa State to get involved in grassroots antipoverty and sustainable agriculture programs in the developing world. The couple funded start-up activities that included visits by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty and staff to countries in Africa and South America, with the goal of developing a system for improving food security for the local people that could be readily replicated elsewhere.

The country of Uganda and its impoverished Kamuli District was chosen because of its potential for great impact and its relative lack of attention from Western aid workers. Uganda exhibited significant signs of poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition. Its overall human development was among the lowest in the world.

First initiatives in the fledgling program included Ugandan farmer case studies, food security in communities affected by HIV/AIDS, animal breeding and production, and a Ugandan school garden program. Through the years, the Kolschowskys’ program funding has allowed Iowa State flexibility in ways the project could advance, and it has since expanded to include a service-learning program for Iowa State students (along with students from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda), community boreholes to provide a fresh and convenient water source, school lunch programs, expanded nutrition education, and youth entrepreneurship.

In October 2011 Iowa State began to explore the idea of registering as an independent non-governmental organization (NGO) in Uganda in order to reduce bureaucratic complexity. The NGO, officially named the Iowa State University-Uganda Program (ISU-UP), was approved in November 2013. The program is staff ed year-round by Ugandan professionals and administered by Iowa State faculty and staff .

Healthy and proud
Like Beth Balwana, smallholder farmer Madinah Nabirye began her connection with ISU-UP when a prenatal nurse at the local health center suggested that she would benefit from the services of a nearby NEC. A nutrition trainer there told her that, as she was in the early stages of pregnancy, she was “in the right position to take porridge,” and she continued to consume high-calorie porridge throughout her pregnancy and as she breastfed her newborn. When the baby turned 6 months old, he also began taking the nutritious porridge and is currently a healthy, curious 2-year-old.

Madinah showed us her farm, a garden filled with cassava plants, maize, orange-flesh sweet potatoes, and other diverse crops. She received seed from the NEC to grow ingredients for the porridge.

As we walked down the red dirt path separating her family’s land from the neighboring farm, Madinah exuberantly shouted greetings to people on the road – friends and neighbors traveling by foot and by bicycle. The translator – ISU-UP staffer Moureen Mbeiza – told us Madinah is happy to show us her farm. She is proud that people came all the way from Iowa to visit her.

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Life-changing experiences
Not long aft er the launch of their sustainable livelihoods project in Uganda, Iowa State leaders and their Makerere University counterparts folded an undergraduate service-learning component into the program goals. In 2005 when the service-learning program was developed, higher education experts observed that many study-abroad opportunities for U.S. students focused on Western Europe or other developed countries; however, an estimated 95 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in less developed areas in the next 50 years. Especially for students in agriculture and global resource systems majors, an opportunity for a hands-on experience in a developing country would be invaluable.

“The Makerere/ISU student collaboration is very intentional,” explained Tom Brumm, the Mary and Charles Sukup Global Professor in Food Security in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. Brumm, who serves as associate director of the CSRL, is a faculty leader for Iowa State’s student service learning program in Uganda, and he’s been traveling with students to the Kamuli District for the past eight years.

In addition to learning about the human and agricultural challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, for six weeks each summer students from the two universities work together, live together, travel together, and learn about each other’s cultures. Together, the students teach school children in classrooms and work with them in school gardens. They form bi-national teams and work together on a variety of projects.

The following fall semester, ISU students spend time on presentations and reflection.

Brumm said, “The first session when we get back, when classes start in the fall, we do a ‘go-round’ and ask the students two questions: ‘What do you do differently than you did before you went on this trip?’ And ‘What do you notice about American society that you didn’t notice before?’

“I cry, listening to these young people talk about how their perspective has changed, what is now important or not important, how they’re acting differently and trying to live their lives differently because of this experience,” Brumm continued. “It is so profound. And it happens every year. If I didn’t have any other reason to be involved in this program, that would be enough.”

The ISU service learners we met in Uganda last summer were hard-working, articulate, and grateful to be part of the program.

“A lot of times people go to countries that are underdeveloped and do what they call ‘voluntourism,’ where they volunteer to help out with certain things but they don’t really know the culture. They don’t know the importance of why they’re there,” observed Allie Wilson, a senior in animal science and global resource systems. “It’s easy to find a program that’ll take you to Africa, but it’s difficult to find a program that introduces you to the people living there and lets you live with them and learn with them.”

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School gardens cultivate food, knowledge
The symbiotic relationship between the school garden program and the school lunch program is a joy to behold.

As ISU and Makerere service learners are heaping dirt mounds with African hoes and planting orange-flesh sweet potatoes in the mid-day sun, primary school pupils are harvesting amaranth from a nearby field. The amaranth leaves will be cleaned, boiled in an enormous
pot over a wood fire, and served to students for lunch this day, along with orange-flesh sweet potatoes from an earlier harvest.

Later this afternoon, when classes dismiss for the day, many of the pupils will join the service learners in the field.

“I think the school gardens are amazing,” said Shana Hilgerson, an ISU junior in animal science, “because when we get the pupils out there to be involved, they’re running back and forth hauling water and they’re smiling and they’re happy and they’re just so excited to be out there working with us.”

And they’re learning, too: They’re learning about agriculture, and they’re taking that knowledge home to their parents to apply to their own small farms.

For some, the lunch they’re served at school – with many ingredients coming from the school’s own gardens – is the biggest, or perhaps only, meal of the day. So the nutritional quality and caloric content has to be high. Program guidelines ensure it will be. And, to come full circle in the process, school children participate in the harvesting of the vegetables, the preparation of the food to be cooked, and the cleanup of the dishes.

Boreholes (deep wells) are located near schools and throughout the district, thanks to funds donated by Iowa Staters to the CSRL. Boreholes provide a safer, more convenient alternative to fetching water from the river. Water is used for cooking, drinking, and hand-washing. The boreholes also ensure that the school gardens will survive in times of drought.

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The students are gone, but life goes on
When the university service learners go back to their own homes, schools, and jobs at summer’s end, the projects they have directed and observed during the summer months are still going on, thanks to the work of the year-round ISU-UP staff.

Nearly a dozen staff members, with skills ranging from community nutrition to agronomy to security, maintain each of the programs and reach out to the people of the Kamuli District much like ISU’s county extension specialists in Iowa.

Yvette Nikuze is a livestock extension specialist for ISU-UP, where she works to integrate livestock production, health, and market access for smallholder farmers. Yvette has a bachelor’s degree in animal health and production from Busoga University and worked with another agricultural NGO before joining the ISU-UP staff.

She introduced us to Rebecca Kyewankamalileku, another mother who initially connected with ISU-UP through the nutritional services she acquired for one of her children at a NEC. She subsequently began a poultry project that has improved her family’s health and finances.

“We didn’t used to eat eggs,” Rebecca said through our interpreter. Rebecca and her husband have nine children, with another on the way. The family’s small chicken facility was spotless and filled with healthy, noisy hens.

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Working together
Two of the key practices of the ISU-UP are its focus on partnerships and its sensitivity to understanding local culture and issues.

“We meet regularly with the leaders, residents, and beneficiaries of the programs in Kamuli – at all levels and in all programs,” said Gail Nonnecke, Morrill Professor, Global Professor in Global Resource Systems, and an associate director for the CSRL. “The overall goal is to make sure that the programs have valuable input from the participants. This participatory approach has been an excellent method to determine the needs, what works, and if there are any challenges.”

Having NGO status provides flexibility in adapting to local situations and responding to local needs, says Denise Bjelland, managing director for the CSRL.

“The NGO allows us to enjoy good rapport with people so that we can render assistance to those who are most in need and tailor assistance to their needs. It gives us the ability to communicate at all levels, from the neighborhood leaders to the top levels of government. It also facilitates the recruitment of experts and highly motivated staff .”

Registering as an NGO has provided greater ease in conducting business in Uganda – think banks, auditing firms, accountants, architects, and attorneys.

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Empowering women and youth through entrepreneurship
Lydia Abwin has her future mapped out: attend professional school, grow vegetables, rear chickens and pigs, start a beekeeping business, make and sell high-quality handcrafted items for extra money. Nowhere in her future plans does she mention getting married or starting a family. Lydia is an independent 18-year-old woman living in Kamuli District.

Her entrepreneurial spirit may have come, at least in part, from her participation in the Entrepreneurial Club at Namasagali College, another program of the ISU-UP. Some of the money she has raised from her activities has already allowed her to continue her schooling.

The Entrepreneurial Club trains secondary school students with life skills they’ll need after they graduate: skills such as money management, gardening and larger-scale agricultural pursuits, producing and marketing craft products, creating business plans, beekeeping, and more. In the group’s garden, located adjacent to the Nile, students are growing eggplant, tomatoes, grain amaranth, and other high-value crops. Right now, 45 pupils are members of the club, and it is growing in popularity. With the money they earn, some pupils are able to buy shoes and school materials.

One of the club’s graduates, David Waiswa, received training on raising poultry from the youth entrepreneurship program. From his sales, he was able to purchase a “lawn mower” – what we would call a weed-whacker – with which he can make additional money by helping other farmers manage their weeds.

“I managed to buy this machine and run my activities all with one flock of birds,” David told us. “I will get a second flock of birds soon.”

Entrepreneurial activities are also encouraged through the Nutrition Education Centers. Every Wednesday at the Naluwoli Field House, women gather to make crafts with brightly colored beads, patterned cloth, and natural raffia. The crafts program aims to provide life skills for mothers who arrived at the NECs seeking nutritional advice, and the outcome is additional money for the family’s budget. The crafts are sold at a local market in Kamuli.

“The mothers feel they own this – it’s theirs,” says Laura Byaruhanga, a community nutrition specialist with ISU-UP. Each woman contributes a fee for materials and receives a percentage of the profits.

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Saving lives
If there’s one program that is the heart and soul of the CSRL, it’s the Nutrition Education Centers. Eight centers scattered throughout Kamuli District have offered life-saving nutrition education to hundreds of mothers and infants.

“When you see the babies come in half dead and they come back to life, you’d never believe they’re the same child,” said Dorothy Masinde, senior lecturer in Global Resource Systems, associate director of nutrition education for the CSRL. “You can’t believe babies can be so malnourished. When we opened the first NEC, we had more than 100 people.”

The porridge served at the NECs is nothing less than a miracle cure. And the ingredients are sustainable. Masinde explained that the NECs don’t off er a ready-to-use powder but instead emphasize that the ingredients can be grown at home.

“We teach that the solution to your children’s problem is in your garden,” she said.

For Beth Balwana, Madinah Nabirye, Rebecca Kyewankamalileku, and so many other women in Kamuli District, the NECs were not just a solution for their children’s nutritional health but became a jumping-off place to learn about livestock projects, family planning, entrepreneurial activities, and more. The NECs are a community gathering spot where all families are welcome to train and learn.

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‘This is why we’re here’
A new residential training center is currently under construction in Kamuli District, representing a strategic decision to make a longterm investment in the area. In addition to providing an important new venue for Iowa State and Makerere student and staff activities, the facility will also serve as a community training and demonstration center, allowing the program to better serve its stakeholders in Uganda.

“[The new construction] signals to Ugandan citizens that we intend to be a long-term partner in development, and it will enable us to attract the very best people to our program from Uganda and Iowa,” Bjelland said.

On our last night in Kamuli District last summer, we sat outside with a group of Iowa State students and talked about their experiences in the service-learning program. As our discussion meandered from the surprisingly difficult field work to cultural differences to breeds of Ugandan cattle to the ease of making friends with Makerere students, one name kept coming up: Simon.

Some of the students met Simon, the young boy who had been severely malnourished as a 1-year-old, at the beginning of their stay in Kamuli District.

“When we met Simon, it was the first time everything really clicked for me,” Hannah Schlueter, senior in global resource systems, said. “It was like, this is why we’re here. This little boy. His family. The fact that we were able to help him and do all this. It’s incredible.

“On days when you’re working in the field and you think, ‘I could have studied abroad anywhere else and I chose here’ – and then you go and see these little kids and you see the smiles on their faces and the food in their hands, you know that we played a part in that and I think that’s just really special.”

KI0A3003 copyBONUS: View more beautiful photos from Jim’s and Carole’s travel to the Kamuli District at

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.

VISIONS Winter 2017: The Administration

Changes at the top

With the departure last summer of Warren Madden, (L)(’61 indust engr) the long-time senior vice president for business and finance, there’s been a series of changes in senior leadership at Iowa State.

During Madden’s 32 years as vice president, ISU’s enrollment increased nearly 50 percent, the campus grew to more than 13.8 million square feet of building space, and the university budget increased from $268 million to $1.4 billion. ISU President Steven Leath (L), in a letter last spring to the Iowa State community, wrote, “I recognize it would be very difficult to find someone as capable as Warren to manage all of the components of what has become a very large, diverse, and complex office. Therefore, I have decided to split this office into divisions: the Division of University Services and the Division of Finance.”

As a search commenced for the VP for university services, Leath tapped his chief of staff, Miles Lackey (L), to assume the role of chief of staff/chief financial officer. Lackey, who came to Iowa State in 2012 at age 32, had served as director of financial relations for the University of North Carolina System and was a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. At Iowa State he’d been, as he oen joked, “chief of stuff,” taking the lead on projects to streamline the resource management model and budgeting system in addition to coordinating the day-to-day functions of the president’s office.

In what can only be described as a perfect storm, Lackey’s wife, Tara, gave birth prematurely to their twin sons on March 23 and Lackey was named chief of staff/chief
financial officer on March 24.

“It was like drinking through a fire hose,” he said of those first few months with a new job and expanding family. (Daughter Reagan turned 2 years old in July; twins Emmerson and William spent 84 days in the hospital but are now healthy and at home.) “It was a hectic period, but I’m starting to feel more in control.”

With a full plate and a number of different hats, Lackey says his number one priority is “to ensure that we are achieving transparency in the budget process and making sure that we are adhering to best practices when it comes to accounting for resources here and making sure they are being used in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

He takes the land-grant model seriously and says, in fact, that the land-grant mission “is really one of the things I love about working here, serving the people of the state.” He won’t even to try to replace Warren Madden, he says. “I certainly wouldn’t try to fill his shoes,” he says. “He was here for 50 years! But what I hope that I can do is just really apply a lot of the sound advice that he provided to me and try to do a good job and leave this institution in better shape than when I found it.”

Kate Gregory (L), a retired Navy rear admiral, also admires Madden’s institutional knowledge and work ethic – and that’s important, because she took on much of his management role in July when she became ISU’s first senior vice president for university services.

“You can’t do anything at Iowa State without seeing, in big and small ways, what Mr. Madden put into place during his tenure here,” Gregory said. “Mr. Madden is an incredibly generous man,” she continued. “He has offered to help me and Iowa State in any way possible, and for that I’m tremendously grateful and I take him up on that at every opportunity. But I think the best advice he gave me was the fact that there are great people in university services and that I should rely on and listen to them.”

Gregory retired from the Navy last year, serving most recently as chief of civil engineers and commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (2012-15). She says her military experience has uniquely prepared her for her new role at Iowa State.

“In the military, I was accustomed to working in large, complex organizations that had a lot of different interests and things that needed to get done – and universities, in my short experience, are very much like that,” she said. “Iowa State is a very complex organization; it does a huge variety of things, and it all needs to happen for Iowa State to succeed in its mission. So I think there’s a very close parallel between what I did before and what I do now.”

Like Lackey, Gregory says she’s grateful to be working at a land-grant university. “Working at Iowa State was a dream, not something I ever really thought was possible,” she said. “I feel exceptionally lucky to be here.”

As relative newcomers to the Iowa State campus, both Gregory and Lackey say they already feel at home here, and they have established their own campus traditions. Gregory says she runs on campus early in the morning, soaking up inspiration as she runs by the historic buildings. Lackey walks around Lake LaVerne most evenings with his family, often stopping at the benches near Christian Petersen’s Fountain of the Four Seasons.

“We’re indoctrinating our kids,” Lackey says. “They all have the Cyclone gear.”

Gregory says, “I think it’s impossible to walk across central campus and see the Campanile and the blue sky and the trees and not just feel great about being at Iowa State.”



  • Facilities Planning and Management
  • Business Services
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Public Safety
  • Reiman Gardens
  • University Museums
  • WOI Radio Group


  • Finance
  • Treasurer’s Office
  • University Financial Planning
  • University Relations
  • Ombuds Office
  • Internal Audit


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.

VISIONS Winter 2017: Off-Campus Development


Campustown: Everything old is new again

When VISIONS last reported on Campustown redevelopment in the fall 2014 issue (“Campustown reborn”), the name of the game was construction. Huge, blocks-long work sites were framed by construction fences and filled with heavy equipment.

Two years later, the word is booming: booming with new housing as well as office and retail space. And booming with activity, day and night.

offcampusdevelopment2New apartments such as The Foundry and 23 Twenty are helping to ease some of Iowa State’s student enrollment growing pains. The Kingland building at Lincoln Way and Welch Ave. houses the Iowa State Daily, ISU News Service, and the ISU Foundation Call Center on the second floor of the three-story building, with Kingland Systems’ offices on third floor and CVS Pharmacy located at street level.

Stroll the streets of Campustown – in both the new and historic areas – and you’ll find more to do, more to buy, and more to eat. New retailers and restaurants include Starbucks, Barefoot Campus Outfitters (for ISU gear), Potbelly Subs, Campustown Spirit (more Cyclone gear), Fuzzy’s Tacos, Insomnia Cookies, an expanded Arcadia Bakery & Café, Portobello Road boutique, Indian Delights Express, TJ Cups bubble tea, a skate shop, and other continuously evolving businesses.


Research Park: Developing the future

When the $12 million, 42,000-square-foot Economic Development Core Facility opened last June at the ISU Research Park, it brought together all of Iowa State’s economic development services in one open, easily accessible location.

This is one-stop shop supports expansion of high-value companies that attract top talent to the Research Park and to the state. Two such companies – Boehringer Ingleheim and Vermeer – recently opened major new buildings at the park, joining Workiva’s recently added state-of-the-art operation.

“Early on, I made it a priority to double the size of the Research Park [from 220 acres] – and that development is moving full steam ahead,” ISU President Steven Leath said in September. “Commercial development and amenities including Ames Racquet and Fitness Club, a new restaurant, health clinic, and new recreation trails are progressing quickly. But we’re not done growing the size of the park!”

ISU Research Park’s Phase 3 expansion is adding 200 acres and will integrate more resources to attract businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, and employees. New buildings will feature media-rich shared workspaces, including conference rooms, offices, classrooms, and labs that can be utilized by park tenants, ISU faculty, students, and third parties. The new park setting will feature a Hub Square commons area, anchored by the Economic Development Core Facility, where people can gather, enjoy recreational activities, get inspired, and share ideas.

The Economic Development Core Facility, funded through an appropriation from the Iowa General Assembly, is the first building to be completed in the ISU Research Park’s next major expansion phase. The facility is on the edge of the new developable land that will support another 1 million square feet of offices and labs.

“It’s our goal that over the next five years, Iowa State will be one of the top five universities nationally in startups,” Leath said.


  • Economic Development Core Facility houses office and collaboration space for the
    Small Business Development Center, ISU Research Foundation, CIRAS, CyBIZ Lab, Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, Cultivation Corridor, Iowa State Economic Development & Industry Relations, and other units, as well as providing event and meeting space.
  • Vermeer Applied Technology Hub houses public-private collaborations that advance economic development and innovation.
  • ISU Startup Factory, located in the Vermeer hub, is an intensive, 52-week program that provides participants with formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisers, counselors, and investors.
  • CyStarters is an affiliated 10-week summer entrepreneurship program housed at the new Core Facility.
  • Boehringer Ingleheim Vetmedica Inc. has a new facility at the park and will double its workforce in Ames.
  • Workiva, a company that started with 10 employees in 2008, now has 450 employees in its 120,000-square-foot facility.


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.