A competitive spirit, integrity and a will to win pay off, whether you’re in the cattle show ring or the volleyball court. Just ask Abby Greiman, 6-foot-2 middle blocker on Iowa State University’s (ISU) volleyball team who is double majoring in animal science and ag communications.

“A good work ethic and teamwork are keys to success in life,” said Greiman, 21, a senior at ISU. “I learned that by participating in 4-H and showing cattle when I was growing up southwest of Perry.”

Greiman’s interest in cattle is a family tradition. “Dad showed Angus, and Mom showed Herefords,” Greiman said. “My older sister, Haley, also enjoyed showing cattle. I’d tag along with her and found out I liked working with cattle, too.”

Greiman picked out her first show cow, a Hereford heifer named Lucy, from her grandfather’s farm in Wisconsin. As she became more involved in showing cattle, she had plenty of expert guidance from her father, Kurt, who ran a feed store for 29 years, and Tina, who works in the animal health industry. “My family often worked together in the barn, which showed me the importance of dedication and teamwork,” said Greiman, whose younger brother, Sam, also enjoys showing Angus steers.

Curiosity inspires career
Greiman, who was a member of the Sugar Grove Sunshine 4-H Club, enjoyed showing cattle at the Iowa State Fair, as well as national junior Angus and Hereford shows. She also served as the secretary and voting delegate for the Iowa Junior Hereford Association.

Always inquisitive and interested in gaining a competitive edge, Greiman would ply her parents and others in the cattle industry with questions. Why do you feed the animals that way? Why are you making these decisions to breed the animals this way? What are the genetics behind this?

“When I find something I’m interested in, I ask lots of questions,” said Greiman, a 2019 Dallas Center-Grimes (DCG) High School graduate. “I remember many nights when I’d be sitting at the dining room table, or working in the barn, talking with my parents. It was a great way to learn and build my communication skills.”

That type of curiosity led Greiman to pursue an animal science degree in college. While Greiman’s parents were both ISU grads, ISU wasn’t necessarily a clear-cut choice for Greiman. She had played volleyball for DCG but didn’t consider playing volleyball in college — at least at first. “When I decided it might be an option, it was hard to find a school that offered a good volleyball team and a good ag program,” she said.

Putting curiosity to work
ISU proved to the right fit, not only for volleyball, but new opportunities in ag. In spring 2022, Greiman participated in one of ISU’s travel courses to the United Kingdom. She got a first-hand look at the origins of Hereford cattle from England and Angus cattle from Scotland.

Greiman also worked remotely this past summer for Aimpoint Research, based in Columbus, Ohio. Founded by former military personnel, the company is based on the philosophy that food security is national security.

Greiman helped with data analysis and worked with every sector of the food industry.

 “This experience really broadened my knowledge of production agriculture, both domestically and globally,” Greiman said. “It’s a fast-paced, competitive industry, which fits with my personality.”

As she prepares to graduate in May 2023, Greiman said she might like to pursue a career in a field similar to her summer internship. In the meantime, she continues to compete with the ISU volleyball team and complete her coursework. Her insatiable curiosity keeps her motivated through it all.

“I’m always asking why. That’s science in a nutshell.”

Maulsby is a freelance writer from Lake City.