Students Organize Successful CALS Week

October 21st, 2020

The Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates CALS Week to recognize students and their accomplishments every fall. This year’s event was held Sept. 28 – Oct. 4 and showcased how students could celebrate the week following extra precautions to ensure a safe environment during a pandemic.

The week included the Block and Bridle Club’s eighth annual Hunger Fight, a porkchops on a stick lunch, a pizza lunch, CALS Olympics, Sigma Alpha’s Mr. CALS competition and ended with a breakfast on Friday. View a video at CALS Week.

Four members of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council served as the event’s co-chairs. The committee had some challenging decisions on how to carry out the event.

Madelyn Main, senior in agricultural business and a co-chairs, said she joined the student council to serve in a leadership position and advocate for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I want students to feel proud that they are a part of this college and I want them to know that they have a home in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Main said. “Also, to have fun, get free food and build community among all the clubs that represent CALS Council.”

Tiffanie Koch, senior in agriculture and life sciences education, also helped with the planning process. Koch said measures were taken to ensure CALS Week would be safe, especially at the popular food-on-campus events.

“We took a lot of extra precautions that we haven’t needed in years past,” Koch said. “I think the biggest thing was the use of prepackaged food. We had to prepackage the food and do it all in advance so it worked as a grab-it-and-go kind of thing.”

Koch wanted to be a part of planning CALS Week because of her experience at the celebration last year. She hoped others would be as inspired, even if the extra precautions changed the event.

View CALS Week video 

“We spread out and social distanced, but we were still involved during the week,” Koch said. “I want [students] to have so much fun that they want to come back next year and that they want to be the ones serving the food or they want to be the ones helping others.”

Since February, the co-chairs have been working with faculty and staff to plan CALS Week. Jodi Sterle, professor of animal science, serves as a CALS Council co-adviser. She helped guide the students’ decisions and make sure rules were being followed.

To Sterle, being a part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is more than just a job; it’s a way of life. She said celebrating CALS Week demonstrated the resilience of the agricultural industry.

“I think people come here because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Sterle said. “[The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences] is bigger than just one person or one major or one department. It’s all of us coming together to celebrate that.”

About the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

This semester, students came together to make up the college’s total enrollment of 4,534 students. The college has 28 majors and some of the largest programs include animal science, animal ecology, agricultural business, agronomy and agricultural studies. Beyond academics, the college also prepares students for the workplace.

The most recent data shows a record six-month placement rate of 98.6%. Mike Gaul, associate director of career services, said these numbers are a result of the college’s ability to network with so many agricultural companies.

“We do have really, really strong ties with industry people out there,” Gaul said. “We have great students and they are highly sought after by the industry. I think that is reflected in our career fair being the largest of its kind in the country.”

To prepare for the annual career fair and other professional opportunities, Gaul said his office offers resources to assist in creating resumes, writing cover letters and practicing interview skills. Gaul said he tells students to take advantage these services.

“Position yourself along the way to ensure that you are successful when you graduate,” Gaul said. “The ball is in your court and you have everything you need to be successful. It’s just up to you whether you take that ball and run with it.”

While it is important to look forward to the future, the connections made within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are important, too. Main said her relationship with peers, faculty and staff is encouraging and is especially apparent during CALS Week.

“CALS Week was always my favorite week of the year,” Main said. “The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a place on campus where I just feel very secure in being who I am because people want you to succeed. It’s fun to have that support and those people who want to celebrate your accomplishments with you.”