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Dean Molly Jahn

IN 2007, WISCONSIN AGRICULTURE enjoyed one of its most prosperous years in history. As the new year opens, however, we find ourselves facing increasing uncertainty. Whatever our future holds, one thing is certain. In the long run, our ability to persevere and thrive through good times and bad will always depend on our commitment to invest in the future.

At CALS, one of the most powerful ways we do this is by investing in our students. Students—through the work they will do, the families they’ll raise, the values they’ll share and the communities they’ll shape—define our very brightest hopes. Whatever our economic future may hold, our history teaches us that our students will make all the difference.

As you turn the pages of this issue of Grow, you’ll notice many examples of this exciting potential. You’ll read about students who are tackling challenges and partnering on and off campus to prepare for their futures and solve problems today. In each story and face, I hope you’ll be able to feel, as I do, the vision, the energy and the optimism our students bring to our campus—and their commitment to your future.

In the larger context of their lives, students spend such a brief time on our campus, critical though this period may be. We know there is so much to do in this short interval to prepare them for all the uncertainties they will face. We also know that much is expected of us during this critical chapter of their lives.

Parents send us their children because they expect that the skills and perspectives they gain here will help them succeed. Our partners in the private sector invest in us because they expect us to graduate bright, career-minded students who have the right skills to help industries thrive and communities prosper. Taxpayers expect that their investment in higher education will lead to a better quality of life through the generation of new knowledge and ideas and the creation of an educated citizenry.

The stories on these pages introduce you to achievements of just a few of our students and all those who stand with them. I hope you will find in them the same excitement and inspiration that I do. Each day, I share sidewalks and stairways with so many who exceed every expectation with their extraordinary knowledge, spirit and innovation. And they are just getting started. My confidence for our future lies in the knowledge that their best is yet to come.