By Deb Gruca
You don’t have to grow up on a four-generation farm to win the CALS Council Outstanding Ambassador of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award, but it doesn’t hurt.
Almost from birth, Cole Eden, senior in agricultural business, lived agriculture. He grew up on a farm near Titonka, Iowa, that was started by his great grandfather, and is still worked by his father, uncle and brother.
Eden helped with raising cattle, harvesting and planting corn and soybeans, as well as raising and showing animals of all types for FFA and 4-H projects from fourth grade through high school.
Still, his younger years were not completely centered around the farm. He naturally moved into leadership roles in FFA and 4-H.
“I was 4-H chapter president for a couple of years, and ended up being our County Council president as well. At one point, I was president of my 4-H club, FFA chapter and County Council all at the same time -- that kept me pretty busy.”
When he was looking at Iowa State University as a high school senior, his now sister-in-law encouraged him to join the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. She was studying at Iowa State and her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, was paired with AGR.
Though he had no plans to join a fraternity, he visited the chapter facility and was impressed with their professionalism, academic focus, brotherhood and sense of community.
It turns out, AGR was a good fit for Eden and his leadership skills.
“It’s so good to surround yourself with juniors and seniors in the exact same major to push you,” Eden said. “I wanted to be CALS Council president like Alex Brand, who I looked up to, so I followed in his steps. It’s a really good way to develop leaders.”
Eden held multiple leadership roles in the fraternity, culminating with chapter president his senior year.
Away from the fraternity, Eden was CALS Week co-chair, a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee and a Dean’s Ag Cabinet Student representative. He also was involved in Alpha Zeta Honor Society, SALC Senior Class Council and the Ag Business Club, all while making the Dean’s List six times.
“Through Cole's work, the community, fellow chapters, clubs on campus and students' lives have all been changed due to his passion and commitment for the betterment of others,” said Cardinal Court inductee and fraternity brother Cale Pellett, senior in agricultural business.
Student Government president and friend Julia Campbell, senior in agricultural business, praised Eden’s “commitment to enhancing his peers’ experience at Iowa State, inspiring leadership potential in others, and his ability to connect with people of a multitude of backgrounds.”
Eden has accepted an associate territory manager position with Corteva Agriscience after graduation in May. Some of the Iowa State memories he’ll take with him are his fraternity activities, and the many trips he took for Cyclone games, winter and spring breaks and recruitment and leadership conferences.
But memories of being part of a class that had to deal with the difficulties of COVID-19 will also stay with him. As CALS Council president, he worked with President Wendy Wintersteen and Iowa State’s associate deans to set up necessary protocols to hold CALS Week in fall 2020 - the first major in-person event and a start toward normalcy following the COVID-19 campus shut down the previous spring.
“What I learned from COVID was just to be adaptable, to be innovative and to keep your expectations pretty fluid because you never really know what’s going to come next or what needs to be done. Everything might not go perfectly, but as long as you have some level of success, you should enjoy the small victories along the way,” Eden said.