Passing the state presidential gavel

March 25th, 2022

Jenna Steffen and Jacob Fjeld, holding a plaque
As state president of Iowa PAS, Jenna Steffen congratulated fellow Iowa State PAS member Jacob Fjeld for his second place award in the Speakers in Ag contest at the organization’s state conference. Fjeld has taken over state presidential duties from Steffen.

By Amber Friedrichsen

For the first time, two students from Iowa State University will serve as back-to-back presidents of the Professional Agricultural Students Organization of Iowa.

As Jenna Steffen, senior in agricultural and life sciences education – teacher certificate option, steps down from this role, Jacob Fjeld, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education – communications option, is stepping up to take her place.

Fjeld recently joined the Professional Agricultural Students Club at Iowa State after searching for ways to become more involved with on-campus activities. He was drawn to PAS Club because of its similarities to FFA, and saw his membership as an opportunity to enhance his leadership skills and knowledge of the agricultural industry.

State officer elections were held at the Iowa PAS Spring Conference, hosted by Iowa State Feb. 9-11. Although Fjeld has only been a member of PAS for a few months, he was convinced by the club’s advisor, Nate Dobbels, academic advisor for agricultural education and studies, to run for office. There were six candidates running for six positions, but Fjeld went into elections with an open mind.

“I thought as long as I get on the team, I would be happy – especially because I am a new member,” Fjeld said. “I didn’t specifically run for president, but that is the position I was voted to because the delegate committee thought I was the best fit.”

Fjeld and his team will be responsible for facilitating the Iowa PAS 2022 Fall Conference, as well as the state conference next spring. In addition to collaborating with other state officers, he will be networking with representatives from a variety of agricultural businesses that partner with the organization.

While Fjeld is confident in his ability to serve as PAS state president, he is also happy to have Steffen close by for advice

Serving at the state, national level

For Steffen, being state president in 2021 was a challenging task. Since PAS events were put on hold due to the pandemic in 2020, Steffen and her team had to essentially start from scratch when it came to planning state conferences during their term.

“All of the state officers last year, except myself, had not attended any in-person conferences before,” Steffen said. “My main role was to check in with the vice presidents throughout the year and support them as best I could with their individual responsibilities.”

Foreseeing the extra effort it would take to facilitate the fall and spring state conferences did not distinguish Steffen’s fire for PAS. In fact, it inspired her to run for office at the national level. Shortly after she became president of the PAS Organization of Iowa, Steffen was elected as one of the vice presidents of the National PAS Organization, and she held these two roles concurrently.

“PAS is something that is important to me and I am passionate about, so I went into both positions full-force,” Steffen said. “There were times when I wondered if I should have picked one over the other, but when I think about it, I don’t know which one I would have chosen.”

Steffen’s main duty as one of the five national vice presidents was to be a liaison for the National PAS partners and alumni. She planned virtual meetings for past members to attend and learn about the organization’s endeavors, and she connected with industry personnel to gain their financial support. Steffen also worked with the other national officers to arrange the National PAS Conference, which took place March 16-19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Even though this event marked the end of her term as a national vice president – and her term as state president ended last month – Steffen will continue to practice the professionalism she has learned since being a member and leader of PAS. Taking on these executive positions has allowed her to refine her résumé and strengthen her communication skills, which she will carry with her into her career.

“Those skills of mine have grown tremendously, and they are the things that will stick with me for the rest of my life,” Steffen said. “It was a challenge to balance everything with being a student, but I really did enjoy myself and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Iowa State’s PAS Club performs well at state, national competitions

One of the main aspects of being a member of PAS is preparing for and competing in individual and group contests surrounding crop and livestock production at the Iowa PAS Spring Conference. These competitions include written exams, public speaking, and a quiz bowl, with the top three placings in each category advancing to compete at the national level. 

At the spring conference Feb. 9-11 in Ames, Iowa State’s chapter was represented by 23 students from nine different majors. The club entered 13 individual contests, seven team contests, and had two quiz bowl teams. For the third time in four years, Iowa State students advanced to nationals in every event.

The club took 16 students to Minneapolis over spring break to compete at the National PAS conference. Those students participated in 15 individual contests and five team contests, with some students entered in more than one event. Iowa State teams took home first and second place in the soils competition, as well as first place in the beef competition and third place in the overall livestock competition. The club was also represented by two first place winners, five second place winners, and one student earned third place in individual events.

National conference results

  • Overall livestock (third place team) – Mia Haage, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education, first place individual
  • Soils (first place team) – Jonah Gray, senior in environmental science, first place individual
  • Soils (second place team) – Gavin Anderson, junior in agronomy, second place individual
  • Beef (first place team) – Morgan Knapp, junior in agricultural studies, first place individual; Mackenzie Winslow, senior in agricultural studies, second place individual; Steffen, third place individual
  • Employment Interview Ag Education – Cassie Hosek, senior in agricultural and life sciences education, second place
  • Career Planning Ag Education – Abby Wing, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education, first place
  • Career Progress Ag Education – Hosek, second place
  • Career Progress Retail Agribusiness – Winslow, first place
  • Impromptu Speaking – Knapp, second place
  • Prepared Speaking – Jen Holliday, sophomore in agricultural and life sciences education
  • Ag Education – Wing, third place
  • Vet Tech – Chloe Brown, senior in animal science, second place