In April, the Sustainability Program hosted the 2nd Food Citizen Symposium at the Lamoni campus. It was a day that brought together people with an interest in our food system. A diverse array of six speakers shared information about how their fields engaged with the theme of food citizenship.

One of the speakers, a student favorite, was alumna Kate Ytell ’16. Her presentation, “Insects: The Ultimate Superfood” argued that accepting insects as a valuable food source and alternative to animal protein can address both food security and the environmental pressures created by the food industry. Ytell spoke passionately about this topic as a student at Graceland and tried to move her peers away from the negative stigma associated with eating insects – she even served chocolate-covered ants at her senior honors presentation!

Ytell was heavily involved in the honors program throughout her academic career at Graceland University. She will begin graduate school in the fall at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Denver.

The archived livestream of the 2017 symposium is available on the Graceland University Sustainability webpage.

Save the date for next year’s symposium: MARCH 23, 2018

Julia Dale

When the Sustainability Program first got its start at Graceland a little over five years ago, Julia Dale ’12 was the original student sustainability assistant. Her passion for the outdoors made her a natural fit for the job. From a young age, Dale’s parents would drag her out to birding events and, eventually, she fell in love with the culture of birding.

After graduating from Graceland with a double major in biology and psychology, Dale worked for Iowa State with the Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring program, where she observed birds on eastern Iowa's Mississippi backwaters.

A year later, she switched gears and worked with the Iowa DNR Wildlife Diversity Program as a bird conservationist and environmental educator.


Now in her second year of a master’s program in wildlife ecology at Iowa State University, Dale continues to study birds and their habitats and plans to defend her thesis in December. Most of her research centers on integrating strategic planting of native prairie vegetation into the agricultural landscape to address issues of water quality, soil loss and wildlife habitat.

As she prepares to defend, for six months Julia will be stationed in southern Iowa as part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service project, researching monarchs and their habitat. When asked how Graceland prepared her for all of this work in the wildlife research world, Dale listed, “Brian Smith’s research methods class, learning how to communicate scientific ideas, and how to work with multiple partners from various backgrounds to achieve a common goal.”


American Goldfinch - State bird of Iowa