i'm an agronomist
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Lauren Schwarck

1. Where are you from?
Spencer, Iowa

2. What first started your interest in agronomy?
Even though my family doesn’t actively farm, both of my parents came from farming backgrounds and many of my relatives are very active in agriculture. In fact, we live on the farm where my father grew up. While growing up, I was very active in 4-H with livestock and horticultural projects. During high school, I was very fortunate to be selected for an internship in the water testing lab at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. This experience allowed me to see the connections between science, agriculture, land management and the importance of promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Another influencing factor was my exposure to Norman Borlaug and the World Food Prize. That experience made me think about how each plays a part in confronting world hunger.

3. What are some of the main issues for society that you are concerned about?
The demand for quality food is constantly growing throughout the world. I am concerned with how we will feed everyone in a way that allows us to utilize our resources in a sustainable and responsible manner.

4. Do you have any advice for those thinking about continuing their education to address the issues you’ve mentioned?
Advice I would have for incorporating your interests into your academic plan is don’t limit yourself. Take classes that will emphasize what you want to learn more about, and do not be afraid to take classes about subjects you have not learned about before. Incorporating your interests in your education goes beyond the classroom. Becoming involved in organizations and internships that incorporate your interests will help you gain experience to solve the issues you are interested in.

5. Why did you choose Iowa State University?
I chose Iowa State because of the superior research, faculty, and numerous opportunities for students.

6. What was your first year here like?
My first year at Iowa State was a great experience. The people at ISU immediately made me feel at home and comfortable. Their focus is on making sure students have everything they need to be successful and be able to meet the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. Through Agronomy Club and the Agronomy Learning Community, I was able to make many new friends that have become a very important part of my life. One of my greatest first-year discoveries was that even though ISU looks really big, it has a “small school” feel, which is a huge advantage.

7. What has been your favorite class?
My favorite class that I have taken at Iowa State would be Agronomy 206: Introduction to Weather and Climate. Dr. Hornbuckle is a great instructor that keeps students actively participating in class.

8. What has been your favorite experience in the agronomy program?
My favorite experience in agronomy at Iowa State was the Agronomy Learning Community Trip. It was a great chance to meet fellow agronomy freshmen, and learn about the many career opportunities made available through agronomy.

9. You have a faculty adviser, how has your expereience been with her?
My academic advisor is Dr. Manu. Over the past year of having him as my advisor, he has been a great resource for any questions that I have had.

10. Do you participate in any student organizations?
There are so many things to be involved in at Iowa State. There is a club or organization for nearly every interest. I am currently participating in Agronomy Club, Iowa State Collegiate 4-H, and Block and Bridle. I have also been a member of the ISU Symphonic Band.

11. Any advice for those considering a major in agronomy?
The reason I chose to major in agronomy instead of coming in undecided was to take full advantage of the program and see if agronomy was a true fit for me. That decision proved to be a good one. Declaring agronomy as a major provided the focus and resources I needed to fully explore the opportunities available to me. Each class I’ve taken has brought more clarity to my career choice and the Agronomy Learning Community is second to none. My advice to anyone thinking about agronomy as a major, is to get involved and don’t be afraid to declare and explore.

12. Ten years from now, what do you want to be doing?
In the next ten years, I hope to be working in agronomic research or consulting. My goal is to help develop and implement, economically and environmentally sound practices into agricultural systems.
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