Leadership students engage in service learning, multinational corporate experiences

Vermeer International Leadership Program students pose at The Knoll with President Steven and Janet Leath and members of the Vermeer senior leadership team on Aug. 27.
Vermeer International Leadership Program students pose at The Knoll with President Steven and Janet Leath and members of the Vermeer senior leadership team on Aug. 27.

Students in two courses offered by the Leadership Studies Program – which is coordinated by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics for Iowa State University – have been participating in both in-class and extracurricular leadership activities this fall.

As part of their course requirements, the students in CL PS 270, "Campus Leadership Development," have partnered with Women in Science and Engineering and the Student Activities Center for a service-learning project conducted at the Community Housing Initiative. CHI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that addresses the growing need of quality, affordable housing for low-income Iowans.

CL PS 270 student W. Peter Deveaux-Isaacs helps a CHI resident at the after-school academic enrichment program. The two focused on mathematics skills by using play money to purchase items from a menu. They also worked on developing a menu for the child
CL PS 270 student W. Peter Deveaux-Isaacs helps a CHI resident at the after-school academic enrichment program. The two focused on mathematics skills by using play money to purchase items from a menu. They also worked on developing a menu for the child's pretend restaurant.
The students volunteer once a week with the children’s enrichment programs at Eastwood Apartments in Ames, Iowa. Groups of students have been working with children ages 4 to 10 years old on educational programming in literacy, mathematics, science and fine arts. In addition, the students planned and participated in CHI’s annual Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 29, which provides safe and healthy alternatives to trick-or-treating. "It's a great way to give back to the Ames community and see the impact it makes on the kids,” said Brennan Borgestad, a sophomore in CL PS 270. At the end of the semester, the students will submit a final reflection paper on what they have learned through their work with the community organization, how they have grown as a person, and how their position as a leader in our society has shifted during the course of the semester. "Service-learning is a perfect component to align with the CL PS 270 curriculum,” said Amber Manning-Ouellette, lecturer in leadership studies who teaches the course. “We use the Kouzes and Posner framework, ‘The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership,’ and the application of service to the community provides an outlet for students to engage in leadership practices that they will implement in their undergraduate career and beyond.” Also this fall, the first of four cohorts of 18 students began a unique year-long experience through the Vermeer International Leadership Program. The program is supported by the Vermeer Corporation, a global industrial and agricultural equipment company with headquarters in Pella, Iowa. This semester, the Vermeer leaders are taking CL PS 322, “Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society,” together. The course is taught by Cameron Beatty, lecturer in leadership studies and coordinator of the Vermeer International Leadership Program through the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. Students selected for the cohort also met with members of Vermeer Corporation’s senior leadership team at an Aug. 27 reception at The Knoll hosted by ISU President Steven and Janet Leath. On Aug. 28 and 29, the students participated in a leadership retreat in Ogden, Iowa, facilitated by Beatty and Manning-Ouellette. The retreat featured a well-received panel presentation by members of the Vermeer family and corporation representatives: Dan Vermeer, Rob Arndt, Dan Belzer and Jessica Moffitt. Dianne Bystrom, director of the Catt Center, moderated the panel. "From only a few interactions, I know that Vermeer is authentic, genuine and innovative in every aspect of their business," said DeQuan Burnside, a junior in software engineering who is participating in the Vermeer International Leadership Program. "Vermeer is filled with quality leaders from the ground up. I’ve enjoyed getting to network and speak with the Vermeer leadership team this semester." Beatty and the students traveled to Vermeer headquarters in Pella on Oct. 26, where they learned how companies operate on an international scale. They interviewed employees at multiple levels of the company and toured the manufacturing facilities. In January 2016, during Iowa State’s winter break, the Vermeer leaders will travel to the Netherlands. During that week, students will interview company employees at the Vermeer office in Goes and at the Lely company headquarters in Maassluis; meet with government officials at The Hague; and tour Amsterdam museums and historic sites, including the Anne Frank House Museum. During the spring semester, the Vermeer leaders will be enrolled in CL PS 422x, "Leadership Capstone Project: Theory to Practice," taught by Beatty. Their year-long experience will culminate with a presentation of their findings to industry leaders. "The program has really had a strong start this fall with the retreat, reception with President and Mrs. Leath and Vermeer senior leadership team members at The Knoll, and the Vermeer site visit in Pella," Beatty said. "The students are getting an in-depth interaction with leaders of a global corporation. I am challenging the students to think critically about the leadership theories we are learning in class and how they apply to the leaders they have met at Vermeer." The application process to select the 18-member cohort for the 2016-2017 academic year is underway, with applications due on Feb. 1, 2016. The program is open to all full-time undergraduate students at Iowa State, with priority given to students with an interest in, engineering, business or agriculture who have two or more years of study before earning their bachelor’s degree. Students can visit the Vermeer International Leadership Program page on the Leadership Studies Program website for application information. An information session is also scheduled for 4 p.m. on Nov. 18 in 302 Catt Hall.