Why Iowa? Five Questions with Emma Hamilton

Why Iowa? Five Questions with Emma Hamilton

As Emma Hamilton starts her final undergraduate semester, she credits the education and leadership opportunities at Iowa State University for preparing her for a career in agriculture.

Hamilton grew up in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. She showed livestock through 4-H and horses on the national circuit, but didn’t have traditional production agriculture background. She is currently a senior majoring in Agricultural Business and Entrepreneurial Studies and will begin a full time job as a land analyst for Peoples Company in Clive, Iowa, after graduation in May 2023.

During the fall 2022 semester, Hamilton served as a Next Gen Innovation Impact intern through a partnership with America’s Cultivation Corridor and Start Something College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. She and seven other interns spent a semester learning from Iowa’s agriculture and research leaders about innovative technologies, programs, research and practices that have the potential to significantly elevate agricultural sustainability and food system resilience in Iowa and around the world.

1. Why did you decide to attend Iowa State University?

Initially, I was pretty set on Colorado State, but my mind entirely changed when I visited Iowa State’s campus. The campus and buildings are beautiful, especially in the fall. I felt so supported by faculty members and truly could see that my education and success mattered to them. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has one of the best career fairs in the country, which made me hopeful for my future and what I could explore. What finally sold me was Ames. I wanted to get the full four-year college experience and I loved that Iowa State University is really the heart of the town.

2. How has your experience at Iowa State prepared you for a career in agriculture?

Coming to Iowa State I hardly knew anything about agriculture, especially compared to my classmates. I remember sheepishly asking my roommate what a “bushel” was in our Econ 101 class freshman year. But Iowa State faculty members and peers supported me and helped me learn about this industry and what it has to offer. I have enjoyed the wide variety of classes I’ve taken from Economics to Geology to Human Sciences, and lots in between!

An important reason I feel prepared for a career in agriculture is the Start Something program. I loved getting hands on experience and immersion in the industry by speaking with professionals and working on relevant projects.

Summer internships have also been an important part of my journey. In 2021, I was an agronomy sales intern for Helena Agri-Enterprises in Kersey, Colorado. I was happy to go home and learn about the diverse crops on the Front Range, and I was immersed in production agriculture and what it really takes to get our food on the table. In 2022, I was a brokerage intern for Peoples Company. This was a great second step for me because I learned a lot about farmland value and transactions in the United States from mentors with a vast wealth of knowledge. I traveled to the Pacific Northwest and experienced agriculture in another region.

I would like to go back to school and get my MBA in the next 3 to 5 years. One day I would like to be on the executive team in a company and continue to make a positive difference in the world. It means a lot to me to give back to Iowa State in the future since it holds such a special place in my heart. I look forward to putting roots here in Iowa, I think it is a great place to live and grow!

3. What are some of the highlights of your experience as a Next Gen Innovation Intern through America’s Cultivation Corridor?

There is so much to explore in the agriculture and food industry. I loved having dedicated time to do research on what is on the horizon for consumers and producers. As interns, we received valuable time with industry professionals and executives; to be able to sit down and ask them questions candidly was very special to me. I tell classmates who ask about the internship that it was the easiest job I had because it didn’t feel like work! This industry is constantly changing and adapting, and I was grateful to be chosen to highlight just some of the strides that innovators are taking.

4. What advice to you have for students starting at Iowa State?

I tell freshman to get as involved as they can. The leadership positions I’ve held have taught me how to be a strategic thinker, a good teammate, and a passionate leader. Getting experience outside of the classroom is what rounded me out as a young professional and taught me the most.

I definitely got to “choose my adventure” at Iowa State. As a freshman, I immediately got involved in the Agricultural Business Club and joined my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. I’ve held leadership roles in my sorority and the Greek community, including serving as Executive Director for Greek Week Central, which is also a fundraiser for Special Olympics Iowa. Last spring we were able to contribute more than $250,000 – I am proud to organize the event for a community that has opened so many doors for me.

Recently I traveled to Brazil and Argentina where we learned about agriculture and carbon sequestration. Studying abroad was something I always wanted to do while in school, so I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn. I have great memories with friends at Iowa State tailgates, picnics on Central Campus, and going on trips with Outdoor Recreation. There are so many things to do and explore here!

5. Please share three recommendations of things to do or place to go in Iowa.

I lived in downtown Des Moines this summer and loved going to the Des Moines Farmers Market every Saturday! It is great to support local producers and artisans.

Rail Explorers in Boone is a beautiful way to explore open farmland and the Des Moines River. It is also a nice workout!

Lakes in Colorado can’t compare to Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa! I have had great fun here with friends in the summer.