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Alumni Spotlight: Colby Lafrenz

4-H has been a long standing family tradition on the Lafrenz family farm in rural eastern Iowa. Scott County 4-H alum, Colby Lafrenz holds a strong commitment to the agricultural industry that has grown his passion
in engineering and innovation. Lafrenz is currently a senior at Iowa State University studying agricultural engineering with a minor in agricultural business.

“Agricultural engineering was an easy choice.  As a farm kid, I was interested in large equipment, but I also liked the challenge of math and science, so it was a perfect fit,” Lafrenz said. “I also chose minoring in agricultural business to understand farm markets and economics which will benefit me in the future both for personal and business purposes.”

Iowa State opened many new doors for Lafrenz both inside and outside of agriculture. One of his most notable experiences was playing as an offensive lineman for the Iowa State football team from 2016 to 2017.

“Playing football at Iowa State was a great experience for me.  I was a preferred walk-on offensive lineman and I dressed for all home games and traveled to the Liberty Bowl in 2017,” Lafrenz said. “I was very grateful to have played two seasons with the team and learned so much.  However, I couldn’t be happier that I am pursuing my other passion, agriculture.”

Lafrenz grew up in the small town of Maysville, Iowa with a love of the outdoors. When he became old enough, he used the 4-H program as an outlet to explore his passions in livestock exhibition and projects related to science, mechanics, and engineering (SME) through the STEM program.  Some of his favorite projects included rebuilding a John Deere engine, installing auto steer in a lawnmower, rebuilding a trailer, welding a chain link seat, and even welding a mailbox to look like a John Deere tractor. His hard work paid off as grand champion in SME for six years where each of these projects moved on to be showcased at the Iowa State Fair.

“4-H drove my interest in agriculture even further,” said Lafrenz, a member of the Hickory Grove and Sheridan Sluggers 4-H clubs. “From SME projects to showing cattle and sheep, it kept me active and allowed me a chance to explore more of what agriculture had to offer.  It also instilled responsibility and hard work into me from a young age.”

During his time at Iowa State, Lafrenz participated in undergraduate research at the BioCentury Research Farm. He additionally interned for John Deere on the crop production systems innovation team last year, and is currently working this summer as a test engineer intern at Horicon Works.  Upon graduation, he hopes to work for John Deere as an agricultural engineer to help develop innovative solutions to drive yield and decrease overall input costs for the farmer. He credits his 4-H experiences instilling a strong passion and work ethic for this industry.

“4-H was one of the best opportunities I had growing up.  I developed a great passion for agriculture and learned so much about discipline and hard work.  The investment of time and money is worth it because 4-H gives those members a chance to do great things.  I am very grateful to have been in 4-H and been supported by donors and volunteers. I personally look forward to being involved in any way possible in the future.”


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