Jacob Handel (far left) is an undergraduate research assistant with the ISU monarch butterfly research team. Handel, a native of Sycamore, Illinois, is an active member of the ISU Environmental Science Club where he currently holds the role of risk management officer and is the chair of outreach and membership. He is also a member of the ISU Environmental Education Club. Among his many duties, he helped with outreach at the 2018 Monarch Festival at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.
Why did you choose Iowa State for college? My grandparents, both of my parents, and both of my older brothers are all ISU alums. But more than that, they have a great program for my major.
What did you enjoy the most about growing up in the midwest? The people are awesome. There is nothing like getting a friendly, “Hello!” from a stranger to brighten your day.
Why did you choose Environmental Science and Biology for your majors? I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, fostering my fascination with nature, and wanting to learn all I could about how things interacted with each other.
What's the most useful thing you've learned as a student? There’s almost always more than one way to do something: the hard part is finding the option that is best.
Why are you interested in the monarch butterfly? As a kid I used to find monarch larvae outside and raise them in our kitchen. Conservation has been an interest ever since and monarchs are an iconic species to work with.
Describe your internship experience with the monarch team: It’s been really neat to see how individuals with various backgrounds and expertise can work together to tackle a common goal. Being able to contribute to the team, even in small ways, is incredibly rewarding.
What's the most useful thing you learned as an intern? If you don’t know the solution, ask around. Collaboration is such an important part of science, but not a part that is discussed a lot in class.
How do you hope to apply what you have learned in the future? Hopefully I’ll be able to emulate all that I’ve learned to contribute strongly to any research team I’m apart of.
How can Iowa farmers help the monarch butterfly? Planting monarch habitat, no matter how small or scattered, and encouraging their neighbors to consider doing the same.