Sam Bird

Ames, Iowa
 
Why I Chose Iowa State University
I’ve lived in Ames all my life, but I never expected to go to school at Iowa State. I learned about international travel opportunities through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) during my senior year of high school and it made me reconsider leaving town for college. The CALS community also played a big part in my decision to come to Iowa State. I was able to meet deans, faculty and staff before I enrolled at ISU. Knowing I would have these personal relationships throughout my college career made ISU and CALS the best choice for me.
 
A Major Focused on International Issues
I wanted to study international development and learned that I would be able to graduate with a Global Resource Systems (GRS) major as one of the first students in the program. Being in this major has exposed me to international agricultural development issues and provided the opportunity to learn from experts in the field at Iowa State. 
 
Greatest experience at Iowa State
Working with the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) through the honors mentorship program and the school garden study abroad program in Uganda has deepened my understanding of development issues. Spending six weeks in Uganda shaped my perspective on rural development as an eye-opening, on-the-ground experience that can’t be replicated in the classroom. Living and working with other ISU students and Ugandan university students was also a unique opportunity to learn from people with different backgrounds and meet other university students.
 
International Experience
Since I’ve been at Iowa State, I have attended a student conference in Serbia through the International Agricultural Club IAAS, traveled to Uganda with the CALS school garden service-learning program, spent a month in Rome with the CALS food and agriculture leadership program, and attended two United Nations conferences in New York. International experiences add a lot to my education and it has taught me how to adapt when I am outside of my comfort zone. It’s important to step out of your daily routine and your normal environment to learn more about the world and about your self. 
 
Future
I’m really interested in sustainable development through food and agricultural policy in developing countries. After graduating from Iowa State I plan to continue traveling and to attend graduate school to study international agricultural development. Ultimately I want to research and take part in the implementation of agricultural development programs and policies in low-income countries.
 
Advice
ISU is a big school, but CALS is a tight-knit community and doesn’t fit the stereotypes associated with large public universities in that respect. Faculty, staff and administrators take the time to talk with you and make you feel comfortable on campus. There have been numerous times where I’ve stopped by a professor’s office to ask a question and ended up talking with them for over half an hour. Don’t shy away from getting to know your professors – it will help you through your classes and you will make relationships that you’ll have even after you graduate.     
 
Hardest part of college
Finding the right balance between schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and just relaxing and hanging out with friends is a challenge for many students, myself included. One of the great things about ISU is that there are a ton of great programs and clubs you can join, but you have to limit yourself somewhat to keep your activities and commitments at a manageable level.