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Young Alum of the Month: Caryn Dawson

Caryn DawsonName: Caryn Dawson

Hometown: Manson, IA

Major and graduation date: Global Resource Systems and Horticulture (Minors: Animal Science, Spanish), May 2021

Favorite ISU class:  Globe 401 Senior capstone and 402 Responses to Global Resource System Challenges.  Despite these two courses being the two hardest and most frustrating courses in the Globe curriculum, I enjoyed and learned a lot about the process of research and working with professionals on real life and relevant projects which prepared me for my current job. For my senior capstone, I researched factors of adoption of regenerative agriculture in developed countries, which relates well to the work I do now with conservation.  For the 402 Responses to Global Resource System Challenges, I worked in a team to source relevant grant funding opportunities for the ISU EARTH program in the US Virgin Islands.  This project also prepared me for my current job by familiarizing myself with grant opportunities which is how conservation districts are mainly funded.

Job Title & Company:  Michigan Agriculture Assurance Program (MAEAP) Technician, Ottawa Conservation District.  MAEAP is a program unique to Michigan and administered by the Michigan Department of Ag and Natural Resources through the Conservation Districts.

Caryn DawsonMajor Job/Position Responsibilities:  As a MAEAP Technician, my role is to help farmers and landowners assess and address potential environmental risks on their farms and recognize them for being good stewards of the land.  Farmers are recognized through my program by participating in an on-farm risk assessment, implementing an action plan of necessary items to be addressed and verification of those environmentally sound practices checked by the regional verifier.  I assist farmers throughout this whole process while providing technical assistance and cost share to help offset any costs related to improving their practices.

What you like most about your job/position?  I like the diversity of agricultural products in Michigan and Ottawa county specifically.  One day I’ll be on a blueberry farm, the next I will be on a pasture raised beef operation.  Every farm and every day is different.  This is part of the reason I chose my major/minor combination in college, so that I would have a diverse background knowledge of different crops and livestock.  I really enjoy learning from and with the farmers I work with.  I’ve learned a lot from listening to their experiences and sharing my own.  The career goal I developed for myself in college was that I want to help farmers improve their practices which is exactly what I am doing now.

What advice would you give to current students pursuing a career in Agriculture and Life Sciences?
**Be specific about your goals but be adaptable. You never know what opportunities might entail.
**Be confident, but don’t be afraid to say "I don’t know".  Credibility and trust are more important than sounding smart in the moment of a conversation.
**Get it in writing!!