By Madelyn Ostendorf
Megan Decker, senior in agricultural and rural policy studies, and international agriculture, credits her success at Iowa State University to the peers and mentors she had to lean on and draw inspiration from.
“I’m the culmination of all the people who believed in me, inspired me, and poured a little of themselves into me,” Decker said. “Without their support, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Decker’s accomplishments have earned her the fall 2023 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council Outstanding Senior Award, which celebrates a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in leadership, service and academic achievement.
While at Iowa State, Decker embraced the challenges and opportunities that came when beginning a college career during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, she ran for student government her freshman year, serving as a supreme court justice and a legislative ambassador before being elected Vice President of the Student Body during her sophomore year. She also taught barre and cycling classes for Recreation Services and worked as a volunteer for the SHOP.
“I learned a lot about myself and how to work with diverse teams of people,” Decker said. “Learning to identify a fixable problem and create a realistic solution really helped me hone my problem-solving skills.”
Decker has also been a CALS Ambassador, a page for the Iowa Senate, an intern for the Office of the Governor, served on the Dean’s Advisory Board and been a part of Start Something CALS’ student incubator program.
“Megan has been active in the courses and experiential programs at Start Something College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” said Kevin Kimle, Rastetter Chair of Agricultural Entrepreneurship and director of Start Something CALS. “She has developed her entrepreneurial mindset and demonstrated a great capacity for innovation and impact. She’s engaged with entrepreneurs in Iowa and in travel courses in California, Argentina and Brazil. We look forward to watching Megan go into the world to make a positive change.”
Through Start Something CALS, Decker went on several trips around the country, learning about agriculture and the intricacies of agricultural politics. It was on these trips that her desire to advocate for agriculture grew.
“I'm very curious by nature,” Decker said. “I got a lot out of those experiences, whether lobbying for the Pell Grant in D.C., learning about olive production in California, or exploring regenerative ag practices in Brazil.”
After graduation, Decker will spend the legislative session clerking at the Iowa House of Representatives. She plans to find a career in agricultural policy, helping to maintain integrity in the industry while making farming more sustainable.
Decker’s best advice to set students up for success: surround yourself with curious people.
“It’s important to be curious, but when you are in a room where curiosity is encouraged, it influences how you think,” Decker said. “There isn’t ever one way to approach a problem; curious people can help you see that.”