CALS student employees celebrated for their hard work

Natalie Young holds her award
Natalie Young, senior in global resource systems, was honored with the Student Employee of the Year Award.

By Madelyn Ostendorf 

Of the more than 10,000 undergraduate students annually employed in various positions across campus, three College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students recently were named among the top.  

Since 2011, Iowa State has opened applications for Student Employee of the Year and Students of Distinction to recognize undergraduate student workers for their contributions and hard work. 

Natalie Young, senior in global resource systems, was named Student Employee of the Year. She works in the Center for Food Security and Public Health, assisting Jenna Bjork, the lead public health veterinarian, with various tasks. Her first assignment was to coordinate with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to create educational videos about chronic wasting disease and how to send samples in for testing.  

“It was a big step for my first project, but it was nice because it told me they have confidence in me,” Young said. “They're trusting me with this.” 

Young has also worked to create a series of study guides for the Transboundary and Emerging Diseases of Animals/Initial Accreditation Training course, a national online course that the United States Department of Agriculture requires to become an accredited veterinarian.  

“This was a huge task that required dedication, organization and collaboration to complete on time in a way that is practical for both audiences and targets the learning objectives for each of the 48 online lessons,” said Bjork in Young’s nomination letter. “I am proud of the work she has done with these educational resources and have received numerous compliments about them from veterinary instructors and students across the United States.” 

Young opted to find on-campus jobs not only because of the convenience of location but also because of supervisors' understanding. 

“They understand your perspective as a student,” Young said. “A lot of on-campus employers have an understanding of work-life balance.” 

Young thanks her supervisors for the support and guidance, and all the other student employees for their hard work.  

Students of Distinction 

Two of the three Students of Distinction this year came from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – Kelsey Henderson, senior in agricultural business, and Abigail Wing, senior in agricultural and life sciences education. 

Kelsey Henderson stands with Mike Gaul and Lois Benning.
Henderson works as an office assistant in the CALS Career Services Office.

Henderson is an office assistant in the CALS Career Services Office. 

“I have loved my job within Career Services,” Henderson said. “I think the one thing that's taught me the most is the importance of having a network. It's allowed me to foster so many connections beyond college. When I was a freshman, I didn't realize how important internships were in the agricultural industry or what opportunities were actually in store for me.” 

Henderson said she decided to work in the office over an off-campus job because of its flexibility and support. Her position falls between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., allowing her to still be involved in clubs, attend study sessions and be social. 

She said she is incredibly grateful for the opportunities Iowa State has given her, and being a part of it as an office assistant was a way for her to give back. 

“You don't have to have an impressive title to make a difference,” Henderson said. “You can make a huge impact as a student employee. You're doing something that directly affects the efficiency of the university.” 

Wing has worked as an office assistant at the Christina Hixson Opportunity Awards and National Student Exchange Office since her freshman year.  

Headshot of Abby Wing
Wing has worked on campus since freshman year. 

She works on the weekly newsletter, runs the programs’ social media and helps students find what they need. After another office sent their student worker to her for help, Wing fully realized how much of an impact she had.  

“I didn't realize how much faith and trust they had with me,” Wing said. “They took into account my thoughts and decisions. They actually wanted me to give their student worker input and help shape the culture there.” 

Wing recommends students work on campus, even if their job doesn’t seem connected to their major. Learning skills that aren’t taught in classes can give students a leg up during their job search. 

“You get to gain professional skills to help you in your career,” Wing said. “You have such a vital role on campus, no matter what office you work in because you are important. Take every opportunity that you can within your student job, because those are skills that will be able to directly translate into your future.”