Student Builds Legacy on Six Generations of Farming

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Hans Riensche is the son of Ben and Lisa Riensche. Ben was the 2001 Farm Journal Top Producer of the Year and is the owner and manager of Blue Diamond Farming Company. Hans, along with his three sisters, are the sixth generation to farm the same land since the mid 1800s. The family farm started in 1858, the same year that Iowa State was founded.

Riensche’s two older sisters have already started careers in agriculture, working for companies that include Monsanto, GROWMARK and BBDO Worldwide. Riensche, a sophomore majoring in agricultural business and international agriculture with a minor in agronomy, is broadening his international perspective in hopes to return to the family farm with ideas to make it even better.

Before he was a student at Iowa State, he did research abroad as a part of the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship through the World Food Prize. That experience set the groundwork for Riensche’s interest in global food security and sustainability.

During his internship in Beijing, China at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Riensche worked with scientists and students to map a rice genome to try and locate a gene that was stopping the plant from reaching its full potential.

“My experience in China taught me to look at what we do differently,” Riensche said. “When you compare yourself, in an analytic way, to others around you, you can find a better solution for most of the problems that you have if you’re just willing to learn.”

After returning from Beijing, Riensche started his college career at Iowa State. Although both of his parents attended Iowa State, Riensche chose the school for his own reasons.

“I have always known that I wanted to end up working and farming in Iowa, so I want to get connected with other Iowans and know the people who are going to be working with me in the industry,” Riensche said.

In attempt to get better acquainted with the industry, Riensche is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, which is a professional fraternity focused specifically on agriculture. His father was a member of the same fraternity when he was at Iowa State.

“It’s a great fraternity to be a part of because you get to pick up on new ideas and meet people with different perspectives in a field that you are all passionate about,” Riensche said.

Riensche is president of his class in Alpha Gamma Rho and also contributes to writing the alumni newsletter. As a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Riensche has learned to value his peers.

“One thing that I’ve noticed about students in the college is that so many of them grew up with great work ethic,” Riensche said. “They push themselves to work hard, and it’s fantastic to be to be surrounded by other students who are like-minded.”

He’s only a sophomore, but Riensche already has thoughts about his future career path. He wants to work in the industry for a few years, and then return to the farm where grew up.

“Being the sixth generation, I recognize that our farm wouldn’t be where it is now without the hard work of those who came before me," Riensche said. “I want to make sure I continue that legacy and make sure I leave the farm better off for the generations to come.”

November 7, 2018