Lydia English: Invest in sustainable agriculture

The following appeared in the Iowa State Daily on March 1, 2018.

Invest in sustainable agriculture

Lydia English, graduate student in agronomy

I moved to Iowa to study sustainable agriculture. Like many of my millennial peers, my hope for the future helps me navigate my life decisions. None of us can save the whole world, but we can all improve a piece of it.

I found my piece here in Iowa.

Sustainable agriculture (SUSAG) is a small major at Iowa State. It’s interdisciplinary. I’m housed in agronomy but my peers study SUSAG through the lenses of sociology or economics. Since discovering realistic answers to difficult questions is seldom confined to one discipline, it makes sense that our major would strive to bring together various viewpoints to tackle tough issues.

Right before I moved to Ames last year, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was defunded by the Iowa State Legislature. It still exists, but as a shell of what it once was. The Leopold Center funded graduate students in my program, it funded projects in every county of Iowa and from this seed money, it has leveraged an additional $18 million working to create healthy lands, clean waters and vibrant, growing communities across the state. I’ve heard over and over again that it was defunded because budgets are tight, and this is all just a numbers game, but when push comes to shove, shouldn’t our money go toward sustaining our land and our communities for the future?

As I look at the longevity of my major here at Iowa State , I’m sad because my hope for the future is waning. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture provided support, both financially and morally, for our major. Without it and without the support of Iowa State to refund it, I feel like we are being phased out and left alone to tackle issues that, in reality, we should all be tackling together.

The Leopold Center will hold its board meeting on March 9 from 9 to 11 a.m. This meeting is open to the public, with space for public comment. Please join me in showing your support for sustainability in Iowa and for our future by attending this meeting.