SASES Spring Meeting showcases South Dakota agronomy, environmental leaders

By LAURA BUTTERBRODT Lifestyles Editor

Students studying agronomy and environmental sciences from universities across the country spent April 20 through 22 in Brookings for the Students of Agronomy, Soil and Environmental Sciences (SASES) Spring Meeting.

The 2017 spring SASES meeting hosted 154 attendees from 16 universities, including North Dakota State University, West Texas A&M and Wilmington College, Ohio.

The South Dakota State University Agronomy and Conservation Club was selected to host SASES 2017 at last year’s Spring Meeting in Lubbock, Texas.

“We were very excited to get the bid for the 2017 SASES because the last time that we had hosted was 2007, so it had been almost 10 years since the last time Brookings had hosted this,” said Alec Weber, a member of the Agronomy and Conservation Club who attended the Lubbock meeting.

The Agronomy and Conservation Club’s adviser Mindy Hehn has attended eight other Spring Meetings throughout her time with the club.

“It more or less let me know what not to do,” Hehn said. 

She said she was sure to have everything organized well, specifically the tour itineraries and meals provided to students. The club put on the 2017 Spring Meeting entirely through club funds and sponsorships.

The three-day conference was packed with tours, speakers and social events for visiting students. The attendees were welcomed with a barbecue dinner Thursday night provided by the Agronomy and Conservation Club and SDSU ice cream provided by the SDSU President’s Office.

Speakers throughout the weekend included representatives from the Dakota Lakes Research Farm, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as SDSU faculty.

Agronomy and Conservation Club members planned five tours to show visitors the diversity of South Dakota agriculture. Weber said these were greatly beneficial to show the meeting attendees South Dakota’s cutting edge agricultural industries.

Sophomore agronomy major Nick Bartness said there were opportunities to network and talk with employers during the tours, which he thought was very beneficial.

Tours went to different places in South Dakota, including a dairy in Lake Norden, a Hutterite colony in Huron, a Sioux Falls floral business, Palisades State Park and the Mitchell Corn Palace and Prehistoric Indian Village. 

Allie Mockler, Agronomy and Conservation Club secretary and sophomore agricultural leadership major, said the meeting was a great opportunity to make friends.

Mixing events for the 16 universities to interact with each other included Ag Olympics, a campus-wide scavenger hunt and a country dance at the Econolodge. In honor of Earth Day, Saturday, the SASES members planted trees on the north side of campus.

“I am very happy with all the hard work that the students had put in,” Hehn said. “If there were any glitches, nobody saw them. They were all behind the scenes.” 

Hehn said they resolved the few, small mishaps that occurred before they impacted the meeting in any way.

Emily Fuger, a representative from the tri-society that SASES is a chapter of, told Hehn SDSU set the bar “very high” for future hosts of the SASES meeting. 

Executive members said they heard positive feedback from students from other universities throughout the weekend as well.

“It was nice to know that we, as a club, planned a conference for that many people,” said Agronomy and Conservation Club President Hunter Welch, a junior agronomy major. He said he was glad they were able to successfully showcase SDSU and agricultural leaders throughout the area.

“Looking back at everything, I would do it all over again,” Bartness said.