By Amber Friedrichsen
Over the past four years, Nathan Behrends has grown to be a resounding representative of Iowa State University. His congenial character and consistent leadership have earned him the spring 2023 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council Outstanding Senior Award.
Behrends always pictured himself at Iowa State. His father graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s in agricultural business, and he grew up attending Cyclone football games with the rest of his family. He also envisioned himself returning home to Wiota, Iowa, after college to farm, which is why he chose to major in agricultural studies with an emphasis in agronomy.
When his freshman year began, Behrends did not hesitate to join clubs and get involved on campus. In fact, he remembers eagerly signing up for eight student organizations at the CALS Council Freshman-Transfer BBQ before narrowing down which ones he wanted to prioritize. These included the Iowa Corn Growers Collegiate Club where he quickly became the CALS Council Representative.
This initial officer position opened many doors for Behrends. He became part of the Iowa Corn Growers Collegiate Advisory Team and was elected president of CALS Council the following year. The experience also helped him discover his leadership style and connect with other students and faculty around the college.
“A huge part of my presidency on CALS Council was learning from the people I served alongside and getting to see them achieve their goals within their committees,” Behrends said. “That was something that boosted me through the rest of my college journey.”
Jodi Sterle, professor of animal science, was a CALS Council advisor during Behrends term as president. She describes him as humble, unassuming, mature and self-aware.
“Nathan’s viewpoint carries a lot of weight with his peers. When he states his opinion or ideas, they are taken seriously and he has earned their respect — a sign of a true leader,” Sterle said. “He is not afraid to ask for help or advice, he is transparent when making decisions, and he is obviously in leadership roles to make organizations better, not just for a line on his resume or the perceived glory of the position.”
Once Behrends stepped down as president of CALS Council, he stepped up as president of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. In addition to leading AGR’s executive team and overseeing the innerworkings of the organization, he had opportunities to network with alumni and other professionals at off-campus events.
Behrends has also been a CALS Ambassador, a member of the CALS Dean’s Student Advisory Board, a student representative for the Full Agricultural Cabinet, and a part of Iowa Soybean Association’s Soy Squad. Looking back, he believes each of these experiences reinforced his interest in agriculture and shaped who he is today.
“A lot of my personal growth from freshman to senior year has been because of the people I surrounded myself with,” Behrends said. “Even though we might come from different backgrounds, we all have one common goal in mind, and that is to make agriculture better for tomorrow.”
After graduation, Behrends will be an associate territory manager for Corteva Agriscience. He still plans on returning to his roots in Wiota one day, but for now, he wants to explore a new avenue of the industry.
“My plans look a little different than they did prior to college, but Iowa State showed me how vast agriculture is. I want to take the chance to learn as much as I can and grow within the company before going back to the farm,” Behrends said.