Lessons Learned at Ag Media Summit 2015
What a week! I returned to Champaign LATE last night from the Ag Media Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference is not just for students, as professional ag communicators from throughout the U.S. also attend. Five students and two advisors from our Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow chapter were able to make the 1,700+ mile trip. While in Scottsdale, we attended sessions presented by industry professionals on ways to ramp up our communication skills. It was incredible to watch students and professionals side by side as equals, learning new ideas, methods, and material. The conference also gave students time to meet and network with the professionals and make connections that will benefit them in the future. I truly enjoyed the experience to attend Ag Media Summit and want to thank the Illinois Agri-Women for helping fund our ACT chapter’s trip to this skill-enhancing conference.
A Southern Summer
The Bluegrass State. Horse Capital of the World. Bourbon Country. Wildcat Nation. I have had the pleasure of living and working in Lexington, Kentucky this summer as an intern for the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) and all of these formerly unfamiliar terms have become a regular part of conversation. While I may be living away from home, I’m comforted by those around me who share my passion for agricultural education.
The NAAE headquarters are located in Lexington, on the University of Kentucky campus. The mission of the organization is to advance agricultural education and promote the professional interests and growth of agriculture teachers as well as recruit and prepare students who have a desire to teach agriculture. NAAE offers positions in Professional Development, Communications and Advocacy, and another student is working with the Teach Ag Campaign. The variety of positions gives interns a peek into the world of NAAE and all they do to support agricultural educators and pre-service teachers.
As a Communications Intern, I spend the majority of my time working on documents and projects to prepare for the annual NAAE National Convention. I have been able to read award applications from some of the best agricultural educators in the country and write news releases for the recognitions they earn. I have gained insight into national agricultural education programs, seeing the creativity and diversity that agriculture teachers are capable of. I am also working on convention presentations and scripts and preparing to work in the pressroom at the 2015 NAAE National Convention, held in New Orleans this year.
This role is preparing me for a career as a teacher by introducing me to the culture and community that is agricultural education. I’m also working in roles where I have very little experience, so this internship is teaching me to think on my feet and adapt to new situations, which is always useful in a teaching career. I am responsible for award winners from regions on the West Coast, in the Midwest, and in the Southeast. Many of these programs differ greatly from programs in Illinois, so I am continually learning more about agriculture at a national level. These teachers are recognized as exceptional, and it is a joy to have the opportunity to learn from them.
This summer has been rewarding and refreshing. While working in Kentucky, I’ve been able to meet fellow students working toward an agricultural education degree. We have spent hours comparing campuses, student organizations, and our respective programs. Without a doubt, I am proud to be a part of the University of Illinois’ program and to have the opportunities I’ve had. It’s an exciting time to be in agriculture, and while I’m having the time of my life in Lexington, I can’t wait to return to campus for a final year as a pre-service teacher and an Illini!
Looking Toward Our Future
The first ACES Family Academies took place July 9 and 10, and I was lucky enough to volunteer at the event. Nearly 100 participants came to campus--alumni and their children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren.
The alumni and their “future Illini” learned about wellness, animal sciences, robotics, electricity, food science, and much more!
I loved watching the multiple generations interact together while they both learned new subject matter. The bonds formed were special, and ACES Family Academies allowed those relationships to become stronger.
All day long I saw smiling faces. Personally, my favorite session was the Magical Milk Lab where participants learned how curds are formed and even got to make and enjoy a sweet treat. Who doesn’t love ice cream?
This event was a great opportunity for alumni to bring their families back to the Illinois campus and share the special memories they have of this great place, as well as make some new ones!
Grab a bucket!
There never seemed to be enough 5-gallon buckets on the farm when I was growing up. From gardening to cattle feed, mixing concoctions or just storing supplies, we always needed more. Now is a great time to purchase a few 5-gallon buckets at your closest Rural King location.
From now until July 25, customers at Illinois Rural King stores can help support 4-H by purchasing a 5-gallon 4-H bucket. For every bucket sold, Rural King will donate $1.00 to Illinois 4-H. In addition to supporting 4-H, you’ll also save, receiving 10% off on everything you can fit in the bucket (with just a few exceptions and rules).
Rural King hopes to be able to donate $50,000 to 4-H programs throughout 10 states. Rural King stores are located in the following Illinois towns.
Illinois locations include:
ACES Family Academies is Almost Here!
We are just a few short days away from launching the inaugural ACES Family Academies event on Thursday, July 9 at the College of ACES! We look forward to welcoming 96 participants from six states, 30 faculty instructors, and more than 40 volunteers to campus this week to participate in educational sessions across the College of ACES campus. Participants will be engaged in hands-on sessions about wellness, animal sciences, robotics, electricity, and take tours of the student sustainable farm, the beef farm, and the solar energy house….just to name a few!
ACES Family Academies is a new program sponsored by the ACES Alumni Association. ACES alumni were invited to return to campus with youth ages 8-12 years of age. Many of the participants are bringing their children, grandchildren,or nieces and nephews to share their Illini pride with them! I am so proud of our college for showcasing what the College of ACES has to offer. Many of our alumni think about their days as a College of Agriculture or Home Economics student and may not know how many opportunities exist for our students today. I hope they will see the diversity we have in the College of ACES today!
Stay tuned on the College of ACES Alumni Facebook page for photos from the 2-day event!
The Simple Things
It’s not raining today!
Wow, for the first time in weeks I don’t have to be concerned with the weather when headed out in the morning for work. I didn’t bring my umbrella like usual or rethink my shoe choice to avoid muddy pants.
While my fellow classmates are also immersing themselves in their summer internships, I hope that they don’t allow these little details to get them down.
I know the hardship and discouragement of seeing the corn and bean crop swimming in pools of water or watching animals struggle from the stress of the heat.
There are always better and brighter days ahead! Soon, the puddles will disappear, July in all of its glory will set in, and this rain will be history.
I believe that this rain has been a good reminder of what we as ACES students, faculty, and alumni have to do frequently—keep your head up and carry forward.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney
Walt said it well. Continue to be optimistic about the outcomes of the summer and be curious about all of the options and opportunities that await you.
Don't Hold Yourself Back
A year ago I was in Scotland. Beautiful, lush, green Scotland. It was my first time abroad, and not only was I nervous about the two weeks away from home, I thought it sounded like an eternity.
You see, growing up on a small grain and dairy farm my summers have been the same each year since I was four. Work on the farm and exhibit my Holstein dairy cattle at county and state shows. To most this must seem like a bore, but to me it’s not only tradition, it is life.
I thought that missing the two weeks for a trip to Scotland, England, and Ireland was going to ruin my whole summer, little did I know that it would change my whole life.
The trip is still a whirlwind in my mind. To me the two weeks seem like two hours now. When others ask about where I went and what I did, I have a hard time remembering the locations of where we stopped to see the beautiful scenic views, or what the bed and breakfast we stayed at was called.
As a year has come and gone since this amazing experience, I can’t help but think about how soon I can revisit the velvety smooth green hills again. I am ever thankful that I was given this opportunity and experienced another country.
I learned that there is much more to see in this world than I ever dreamed. I urge you all to take every opportunity you have, take a trip to a new place, experience how life is in a different country, and do it as many times as you can. Although it can be nerve racking, you will wish to relive the experience again!
How much will I be paid?
How many of us have either asked or been asked this question? Sometimes I invite people to help with activities or events, and their first question is, “How much will I be paid?” But for a rare few, this is the last thought that enters their mind. Most frequently, I’m referring to the servant leaders and life-long learners who have answered the call to become teachers.
The Agricultural Education Program was privileged to host 22 Illinois high school agriculture teachers for a three-day course on June 1-3. Most of the teachers have less than three years of experience and are still considered “new” to the profession. Teachers were able to learn about and practice science-based laboratory experiments they can immediately use in their classrooms. Besides the valuable skills and ideas teachers acquired, the best parts of the course may have been the life lessons shared by the veteran high school ag teachers who taught the course – Mrs. Sue Schafer (Taylorville), Mr. Tim Reed (Southwestern-Piasa), and Mr. Don Lockwood (Sullivan). All three of these individuals have previously served as cooperating teachers for the Agricultural Education Program, hosting and helping train future agriculture teachers.
In addition to sharing lesson plans, lab experiment ideas, and assessments, I had the opportunity to hear these three teachers share life lessons about being a teacher, managing a classroom, and balancing family and work responsibilities. Although they were more than willing to give up a day of their time to teach and spend multiple days planning instruction, none of them were paid for their time; in fact, none of them even asked about payment. In many cases, not only did they not receive payment, but they spent their own money to purchase some of the supplies and drive to and from campus to share ideas with other teachers.
Some people think teachers have it easy. After all, they get the whole summer off from work, right? (That statement always strikes a sensitive cord with me, as I am confident it does with most teachers.) For many teachers – especially agriculture teachers (in my overly biased opinion) – there is no summer off. Twenty-two teachers volunteered their summer time this week to learn from others and improve classroom instruction for students. Three additional teachers gave up valuable time to serve as instructors for the course. How much are these 25 individuals getting paid for their efforts? Zero. How much would they be willing to give of their time, energy, and efforts to help fellow teachers, students, and their communities? For most, that value is simply immeasurable and endless. Time well spent helping others, collaborating with other professionals, and improving one’s skills cannot be accurately measured with dollar signs and pay raises.
ACES graduate encourages students to invest in self
Throughout her career Dawn Jackson Blatner (Dietetics, ’97) has often observed young dietitians had limited experience exploring and fostering their own wellness and nutrition. Blatner sought to encourage more self-care skill building by sponsoring a vision board competition for dietetic students.
The contest required students to create a picture collage outlining how they would use $1000 to gain real-world health and happiness experience. Entries included representations of healthy grocery shopping sprees, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, fitness equipment and clothing, and inspirational quotes. Some also referenced travel, fitness classes, spa treatments and cooking classes.
A panel of judges selected Nikki DeAngelis, a senior studying dietetics, as the winner of the poster competition. Nikki is excited to invest in her own health and wellness as she prepares for her career in dietetics.
The College of ACES and Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition appreciate Dawn Jackson Blatner’s investment in tomorrow’s dietetic leaders!
Justine Karduck, director of the didactic program in dietetics, congratulates Nikki DeAngelis on her winning entry.
Check It Off the “Bucket List”
After finishing 12 weeks of student teaching, Agricultural Science Education seniors culminated their academic careers with a study abroad experience to Puerto Rico. Under the guidance of Dr. Erica Thieman, Mr. Gary Ochs, and Dr. Cecilia Suarez, 10 students participated in a week-long journey of agricultural farms, businesses, and cultural experiences in Puerto Rico. Through cooperation with Wanda Perez from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the group toured five farming operations and a coffee processing facility along the southern coast and central mountainous regions. They also toured a university agricultural experiment station, a grain mill, and the College of Agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. Additionally, students visited an Indigenous Culture Center, beach, and closed out their week with a two-day stay in the rainforest.
For some participants, this was the first time they had ever seen the ocean, stood in a waterfall, hiked in a rainforest, or visited another culture outside of the lower 48 states. Students returned from the trip with many photos, a much deeper knowledge of fruit and vegetable production, and lesson plans utilizing information from their experience for the agriscience classrooms they will be teaching in beginning Fall 2015.
Not only did the experience allow students to mark items off their “bucket list”, but they were also able to connect classroom content about global agriculture practices with firsthand experiences. Claire Geiger, one of the students who participated in the experience, said, “The trip to Puerto Rico was an amazing opportunity to see different agricultural practices in use. Being immersed in the culture also gave me a better understanding for the reasons they produce the variety of produce they do. During my time here at the University of Illinois, I've learned and researched practices like using nitrogen fixing cover crops and irrigation, but I haven't seen them used in the industry often. This trip provided me the chance to see both implemented in the production of plantains. We also visited one of the University Research Farms trying different varieties of mangoes and how each variety is marketed to different consumer types based on their needs. What an experience!”
Definitely an experience of a lifetime for many. Bucket list item? Checked!