clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Grandma's Letter About Iowa State University Helping Farmers is a Must-Read

We sat on this awesome story for a month so we could publish it on National Ag Day!

Scott Olson/Getty Images

First of all, happy National Ag Day on this March 15th to all of our readers in the field of agriculture! Huge thanks for all you do to put food on our tables. You guys deserve all the credit in the world for the hard work you do every day.

Just over a month ago, a guy by the name of Wade sent me an email after seeing the release of our Actually Helping Farmers 2.0 T-shirt. Wade's email contained a gold mine for us at WRNL and those of you who've followed our quest to prove that Iowa State University actually helps farmers, as opposed to the University of Iowa, who simply puts a sticker on their football helmet that says "ANF" (America Needs Farmers).

In the email, which had the subject "Grandma Wag's letter," Wade explained to me that he'd attached a letter from his grandmother that was written to his cousin Luke back in 2010. What had prompted Wade's grandma to write the attached letter was "a poorly worded fan recruitment letter to the Cyclone fans in the family" from Wade's Uncle Morris - an Iowa Hawkeye fan.

After reading Uncle Morris' letter (which Wade tried to find for me, but he unfortunately came up empty), Grandma Wag felt compelled to write the following in response. For you Cyclone fans and farmers who've benefited directly from the work that Iowa State University has completed across the country in the field of agriculture, I hope you enjoy the following letter penned by Grandma Wag:

November, 2010

Dearest Luke:

I don't know why I'm writing you now about this; I should have done a better job in your childhood, I hope and pray it's not too late. But, you've always been a beautiful child with a wonderfully open mind, so I thought I would appeal to your kind heart and intellect.

It seems fan recruitment letters in this family are becoming a thing of the norm. I assure you this one is not tongue in cheek.

I know that your generation by and large takes for granted going to college, but I'd like to share with you a little bit about my lifetime and the history of Iowa and our family.

When I was growing up, getting to go to college was the exception, not the norm. Only the privileged and elite went to college. That all started to change in 1862 with the Morrill Act. I've attached some documentation for you, but essentially the Morrill Act was known as the people's act. While historically college had been reserved for the privileged few, the Morrill Act (and later acts such as the Hatch Act of 1887, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and subsequent legislation) opened up college for the common man. I've attached documentation to back up what I'm telling you and highlighted the section where the Morrill act is called the peoples act... but essentially Iowa was a college of privilege; and Iowa State College (and Northwest Teachers college [now Northwest Missouri State]) was of the people. In fact, Iowa State was the first Morrill Act Land Grant College!!! Of all the things passed down thru generations and all the things lost, ironically the Iowa fans (especially your uncle Morris) by and large have not lost this sense of arrogance, privilege and entitlement. I said to open this letter you are better than that, I hope you'll act that way in the future. I'm proud of Iowa State and that it was the first college of the common man, and thus changed the future and prosperity of our family.

Our family was common Luke, and this Morrill Act of 1862 allowed Wag (the one who made you the chosen one) to go to school and study agriculture and animal husbandry. Had the University of Iowa (privilege) been the only school, our family would have likely gone down a far different path. Instead, your Grandpa Wag got to go to college and the course of our family went down a different more affluent path that still resonates with you today.

Our family's past is rooted in agriculture. Both your father Stan and Uncle Wayne took over from Wag an agricultural business. There are several innovations in the past century that have impacted our family and its prosperity. The invention of seed corn is perhaps the biggest (guess what school), the invention of pesticides and herbicides (guess what school), and countless advancements in animal husbandry allowed our family to have increasingly prosperous living for generations.

I guess what churns my stomach most about your being a Hawkeye fan is how much Iowa State has helped you personally. All of the aforementioned advancements to agriculture have benefitted the field of agriculture... and you Luke... now you work for John Deere, a company that is largely dependent upon agricultural advances. Currently sales of agricultural equipment are up, because of the high demand for corn, because of the advances in ethanol research, which university do you think leads the way in ethanol research? Better corn prices lead to more tractor sales, which lines (John Deere) your pocket.

To make matters worse Luke, you're a computer guy. Where do you think the computer was invented for Pete's sake? I've attached an article to that effect too.

In conclusion Luke, Iowa State University was the first land grant college, was the first college of common people, changed the course of history for our family, continues to advance research which directly benefits companies like John Deere, and was the birthplace for the computer, a field which you are primarily involved in.

Luke, don't be fooled by the University of Iowa's pathetic attempt to hijack the common agricultural people of the state by the comical ANF sticker on the side of their helmets. Iowa State is the true Ag University. Iowa has nothing to do with ag and their hijack sticker makes me ill.

I understand the fair-weather desire to ride a winner, but maybe if I reason with enough good kids like you, there is still hope to right the fan hijacking wrongs of the past century. For the last century the privileged university of Iowa has hijacked the fans (many I'm ashamed to say are my descendants) that rightfully belong to the Morrill Act, land grant, John Deere supporting, computer inventing school of IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY. If fans like you direct your affection and dollars toward the rightful university, maybe wins and losses can change.

If you want to continue to root for the elitist university that hasn't improved your past or present standard of living, that's fine. While I'm not asking that you harbor the bitter disdain for Iowa that is prevalent in some of your cousins, I would hope in my heart that you would reserve your strongest allegiance for the school that has had such a huge impact on you and your family's past and present life.

Love always (in spite of your previous transgressions),

Grandma Wag

Of course, attached at the end of the letter was exactly the documentation that Grandma Wag promised to include. Information about the Morrill Act, Iowa State's history of supporting the agricultural community, the academic merits of the school, and proof that the first electronic digital computer was birthed at ISU.

If you enjoyed Grandma Wag's letter and agreed with what she said, we hope you'll share it with your friends who work in agriculture! It serves as a great reminder of the university that actually helps farmers - Iowa State University.