Gerdts celebrated for high academic achievements

Erik Gerdts in a black suit jacket and red tie against a grey background
Erik Gerdts, senior in agronomy, is the fall 2023 recipient of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council Academic Achievement Award.

By Madelyn Ostendorf

You’ll get out of school what you put into it, so give it your best effort. That’s Erik Gerdts’ advice for students seeking guidance on academic success. 

Gerdts will be walking across the stage at convocation with a 3.99 GPA, summa cum laude and featured on five semesters of the Dean's List. He credits his success to hard work, dedication and putting his best effort into everything he does.  

Gerdts is the fall 2023 recipient of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council Academic Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who have earned high academic honors while at Iowa State University. He is graduating with a major in agronomy, a minor in agricultural business and a certificate in soil science.

When he started at Iowa State, Gerdts was an animal science student planning to take over the family farm and focused on chickens. Just one semester in, he discovered a passion for agronomy and production farming that made him switch majors.

Gerdts worked as a teaching assistant in AGRON 259: Organic Compounds in Plants and Soils with Michael Thompson, which he said was the most influential class he took during his college career.

“Dr. Thompson is such a knowledgeable guy,” Gerdts said. “He knows what he's talking about and cares about his students. He's also a very good communicator, and just from being around him, watching him interact and teach, I've become a much better communicator.”

Several professors had an impact on Gerdts while at Iowa State. He recalled one of his favorite memories; an exam of Andrew Manu’s, professor emeritus of agronomy, where he told the parable of coke and whiskey before handing out their tests.  

“He said, ‘After the exam, when I see the final scores, I am going to go to the store.’” Gerdts said. “‘If the scores are high, I’m going to get myself a lot of Coca-Cola. If the scores are low, I’m going to get myself a lot of whiskey.’ During our final exam, I walked up and handed him my exam and a can of Coke and said, ‘I saved you a trip.’”

“In his 3.5 years at Iowa State University, Erik has excelled academically and helped fellow students succeed,” wrote Mindy DeVries, assistant professor of agronomy, in her letter nominating Gerdts for the Academic Achievement award. “As Erik’s academic advisor and instructor, I’ve had the chance to watch him succeed both in the classroom and beyond.”

After graduation, Gerdts will be working for Storby Seed in Lake Mills, Iowa, working with growers to make good decisions about their production while helping his dad farm.