CALS student marshal radiates leadership on campus and into the future

April 27th, 2021

Editor's note: Find CALS and Iowa State spring 2021 graduation celebration livestream viewing information here.

By Amber Friedrichsen

Megan Behrends has developed a passion for Iowa State University, as well as the agricultural industry. She has been chosen as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ student marshal for the university’s spring 2021 graduation celebration.

Behrends, senior in agricultural and life sciences education – communication option, grew up a Cyclone fan and always saw herself attending Iowa State. What she didn’t have a clear image of, though, is where her education would take her.

“I had to figure out what I was passionate about,” Behrends said. “I saw that there are a bunch of [people] who have absolutely no idea what it means to grow up on a farm, or where their food comes from. That’s kind of how I got into my major.”

Behrends chose to have her advisor, Nate Dobbels, escort her during the graduation ceremony May 8. Dobbels has played an important role in Behrends’ academic career and has watched her thrive outside of the classroom.

“Megan has truly made the most of her Iowa State journey,” Dobbels said. “She is a leader on campus, achieved extremely high academic levels, and is well respected among her peers. It has been such a joy watching Megan grow into a strong and confident leader.”

One way Behrends has demonstrated her leadership is by being president of the Student Admissions Representatives (STARS). Her experience in the organization has allowed her to find her voice, which will help her reach her post-graduation goals.

“[STARS] has been a way for me to express my love of Iowa State to other people and improve my public speaking skills,” Behrends said. “It’s just been a cool way to gain confidence in myself and my abilities and know that that will translate to any career I might have.”

Behrends wants to become a lobbyist for an agricultural company. She wants to work with government leaders and advocate for the actions farmers are taking to improve the agricultural industry.

“I really hope to bridge the gap between agriculture and the government and create more awareness of what farmers are actually doing – the practices they are taking toward sustainability and being more efficient,” she said. 

Behrends already has experience improving agricultural policy. As president of the Iowa Corn Growers Collegiate Club, she learned how the organization uses funding to lobby for farmers and support their efforts.

“Iowa Corn opened my eyes and made me aware that it is a career path I am interested in,” Behrends said. “If I can get more money to farmers to help them be more efficient on the farm, create more sustainability, and create a better agricultural world, that is something I want to be a part of.”

A piece of advice Behrends offers current and prospective students is to take advantage of the opportunities Iowa State offers. She said the many things she was a part of made her four years of college worthwhile.

“I always encourage students to get involved on campus in organizations that they might have a small interest in just to see if that leads to something bigger,” Behrends said. “By going through different experiences, you learn more about yourself – even if things don’t work out the way you thought they might.”