By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service
Andrew Larson has learned a lot about being a leader from his mentors, classwork and experiences at Iowa State University.
In his most recent leadership role he’s working as the co-director of the Homecoming Central Committee. The committee is in charge of everything related to homecoming, including Yell Like Hell, displays, a parade, Cy Factor, Cardinal Court and serving food on campus throughout homecoming week. Larson, a junior in forestry, along with his co-director Grace Rosson, a senior in apparel, merchandising and design, oversee and plan the week of student activities.
Homecoming Central Committee is made up of 30 committee members, eight of which are CALS students.
“We have to make sure each co-chair for all of the events is doing what they are supposed to do,” Larson said. “To ensure this happens - we have weekly meetings with each of the co-chairs and also the committee as a whole.”
As a key person planning homecoming events, Larson wants to change how the event is perceived.
“Dorm floors and student organizations used to participate in Yell Like Hell and other events, but homecoming has morphed into something that it didn’t use to be,” Larson said. “We are trying to show that it is still for everybody, not just members of sororities and fraternities.”
To attempt to reach a larger, more diverse audience, the committee is advertising in dorms, with a focus on student organizations and freshmen. As a leader of the homecoming committee, Larson wants everyone to cherish and enjoy the events, just as he was able to.
“Having participated in these events my freshman year and then being a part of the committee last year, I fell in love with the traditions and the rich history at Iowa State,” Larson said. “I want others to be able to experience what I did.”
Leadership is something Larson said he’s learned through his involvement in countless student organizations, leadership programs and with the help of mentors who have guided him.
Forestry majors are required to spend their sophomore year focused on classes within their major. That meant he essentially spent most of last year with two Natural Resource Ecology and Management professors, Doug Stokke and John Tyndall. Larson also went on a three-week forestry trip to Montana with them to do field research.
“In Tyndall’s classes we were always working in teams. It taught me that you’re not always going to agree with everyone that you work with, so I learned how to work with everyone and come to an agreement,” Larson said. “He really pushes and encourages collaboration and communication.”
Mary Kate Misak, advisor for the Student Alumni Leadership Council, said Larson has a natural ability to lead.
“Andrew has an amazing energy and a unique ability to authentically connect with people,” Misak said. “He is positive and empathetic which helps to shape his professional and passionate leadership style.”
Larson said that Misak was one of the reasons he took the co-director position.
“She’s really encouraged and inspired me to keep taking on bigger roles, and has allowed me to see the value in my leadership skills and how I communicate with others,” Larson said.
Larson also participated in a LEAD Retreat for Iowa State’s top student organization leaders and is a Dean’s Leadership Scholar. The scholar program provides students with financial aid and opportunities to pursue research projects.
Larson has worked on research projects ranging from analyzing bee habitats to helping Des Moines write and publish an urban forestry plan.
“The plan involves how they are going to address global warming and an increasing population, while maintaining forest stands and green spaces in the city,” Larson said.
Helping the city get funding and working to improve their urban forest area was one of Larson’s favorite experiences.
Larson hopes to continue to hone his leadership skills and see where those skills might take him in the future.
October 18, 2018