CALS Borlaug Scholar shares great Iowan's story

Borlaug legacy lives on through CALS internship

By Ashlee Hespen

Mary Foell’s summer has included talking to visitors in the schoolhouse on the Borlaug farm.

Norman Borlaug is known for his work as the founder of Green Revolution, attempting to feed the world, while expecting no recognition for his work. Throughout this summer, an ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences intern has had the opportunity to learn and share his ideals.

Mary Foell, a senior in public service and administration in agriculture with a minor in political science, has spent her summer creating a curriculum that teaches Borlaug’s legacy.

Foell, a native of Schaller, Iowa, is the fourth Borlaug Scholar Award and Internship recipient in the past three years. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa State University Agricultural Endowment, and three private donors make this internship possible.

From mid-June through Aug. 6, Foell has been living in Cresco, Iowa, approximately 15 miles north of the Norman Borlaug Childhood Farm and is working out of the Howard County Extension office.

The Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation works with the student interns to determine projects related to renovating or promoting the farm. From that point forward, they work independently to complete the project.

“Living in Borlaug’s hometown means I have more interaction with the townspeople. Everyone is really nice and inviting. I’ve also been able to network with more people through events that I was invited to by foundation members,” said Foell.

Foell is working to create a curriculum for students in fifth grade and older that will teach students about Borlaug’s work before they visit his boyhood farm. She is including information from general facts about Iowa agriculture to Borlaug’s childhood to winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

“There are five days of basic Iowa curriculum prior to the day of the farm visit [on day six]. And then days seven through 11 are more focused on Dr. Borlaug’s legacy,” said Foell. “Teachers will be able to pick and choose how they want to incorporate the curriculum into their trip.”

After the curriculum is complete, it will be furnished to schools in Howard County. In the future, this curriculum can be passed on to a larger area, as well as possibly the USDA’s National Agricultural Library.

Mary Foell gives a tour of the Borlaug boyhood farm.

“This is an important internship in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I can share Borlaug’s important lesson of giving to others without recognition, which is something I hope to do in my personal and professional life,” said Foell.

“Borlaug’s legacy will continue to live on though he is no longer with us,” Foell added. “It is a great experience to see where Borlaug was raised and share his story with others.”

Because of Borlaug’s huge impact in Iowa and the world, and the amount of support awarded, the Borlaug Scholar Award and Internship is the most prestigious scholarship that CALS offers.

By sponsoring the Borlaug scholarship, the ISU Agricultural Endowment is hoping to catch the attention of “young Borlaugs” and to help cultivate future leaders. The ISU Agricultural Endowment, which was founded in 1937, supports many scholarships to Iowa State agriculture and life sciences students; supports student clubs, activities and internships; provides grants for research and demonstration projects; and supports other college programs that advance agriculture in Iowa.