STORIES in Agriculture and Life Sciences: Volume 5, Issue 4
Mike Retallick's door is always open. The assistant professor of agricultural and life sciences education and studies advises more than 80 students annually, in addition to his research and teaching responsibilities. Any number of his advisees could drop by in a given day. And they do. Retallick ('05 PhD agriculture and life sciences education) is one of 135 faculty advisers in the college. Together with another 13 full-time staff advisers they help agriculture and life sciences students navigate through their ISU experience. For each advisee Retallick is the person who reviews their course schedule to be sure they are meeting degree requirements. He helps them identify and prepare for their internship and student teaching experiences. He intervenes when students are headed for academic probation and offers congratulations when they make the dean's list. He processes course substitutions and makes sure his students meet university and departmental deadlines.
Tia Sandoval has been bitten by the travel bug and she loves to share her affliction. Sandoval is a Student Travel Consultant with the Ag Study Abroad office. Three College of Agriculture and Life Sciences travel courses to China, Brazil and Ecuador are just the beginning of her international experiences. The senior in animal science and international agriculture spent last spring semester in Brazil. While there, Sandoval from Kansas City, Mo., polished her Portuguese skills and completed an independent study on poultry nutrition at the Federal University of Vicosa in Minas Gerais. She also taught an English conversational course.
The ISU crops team helps prepare students for a career as agronomists by teaching them skills such as plant, insect and disease identification as well as problem solving. Each year the team competes against other four-year universities at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) contest which is held at various locations across the country. During the competition the team also travels to farms and agricultural businesses to learn about the area's agriculture. In 2012 the ISU Crops Team finished first in the Knowledge Bowl and second in the Crops competition. Erik Christian and Josh Enderson, agronomy, are coach and assistant coach of the team.
The student experience in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences connects what happens inside and outside the classroom. The two are mutually supportive and synergistic. Students' out-of-classroom activities are as instilled in the college's culture as the land-grant philosophy. Even Iowa State's motto, "Science with Practice," reflects how our students take what they've learned in class and make the coursework more relevant to them. Some parts of our student experience, like student clubs, student council and Alpha Zeta, have been fixtures for a century or more. My wife's grandfather, a 1912 animal husbandry grad, has fascinated me with the story of his Alpha Zeta induction. Traveling abroad goes back more than 50 years. Today, students study on every continent.
The management and care of research animals is a necessary, behind-the-scenes aspect of scientific study that animal scientist Matthew Ellinwood has made a learning experience for undergraduates. "We take seriously the role these dogs and cats play in addressing new treatments or possibly cures for conditions that have a big, negative impact on people, especially children," he says. After earning his doctoral and veterinary degrees, Ellinwood became a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Part of his duties was the management of dogs and cats used to research human genetic diseases-most of them fatal pediatric diseases. Graduate students did a lot of the work, offering valuable hands-on experience. Ellinwood brought this model of students caring for animals to Iowa when he started at ISU about seven years ago.