Join the conversation

Feb 13
Stephanie Henry, ACES Media Specialist

Have you had a chance to check out any of our #askACES Twitter chats over the last several months? We have had a blast getting to know the faculty and researchers who have participated. We have also learned a lot about what kinds of questions the media and the public have about the impactful work we do in the College of ACES.

Each month, during the one-hour Twitter chat, ACES researchers answer your questions in a live Q & A conversation.  We have covered some, often, timely topics such as childhood obesity, the science of processed meat, GMOs, and water quality, to name a few.  Our ACES experts have been able to share a lot of helpful information and resources during these chats, even considering the limited-number of characters allowed in a “tweet.”

Each chat is then followed up with a podcast interview with the researchers to dig a little deeper into the conversation and cover questions that may not have been answered during the Twitter chat.

On Feb. 16, we’ll be talking with Dr. Brian Ogolsky from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies as he discusses the science behind why romantic relationships improve or deteriorate. It’s Valentine’s Day week so perhaps relationship maintenance is on a few peoples’ minds?

You are invited to join the conversation using #askACES on Twitter from noon - 1 p.m. on Thurs. Feb. 16 to ask your questions or to simply follow the conversation.  

Stay tuned for future #askACES topics and dates. For previous podcasts visit


Do you see the hidden figures?

Feb 8
Paige Jones, Junior in Agricultural Communications

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see the movie Hidden Figures. This film was based on the true story of three African American women working for NASA in the 1960s. They were incredible mathematicians that made significant contributions not only to the United States’ first trip to space, but also to racial and gender equality. Their names were not mentioned in the newspaper when Alan Shepard became the first American to reach outer space or when John Glenn successfully orbited the earth. These women were the behind-the-scenes people, the hidden figures of American history. After watching the movie, I began to question just how many hidden figures there are in the United States. Who are the people that just kept their head down, did their work, accomplished great things, and never asked for any recognition or a simple thank you? Who are those hidden figures at the University of Illinois? Or specifically in the College of ACES? Who are the hidden figures in your own life?

When thinking about the hidden figures of the College of ACES, I’m sure there are several you could name that I’ve never even met or heard of. There are many that stood here over a hundred years ago and have paved the way for each of us, faculty and students alike, on this campus. There are many that are here now that I would consider hidden figures. They do the behind-the-scenes work that maybe you don’t always notice or maybe you have never cared to wonder who was responsible for it. These hidden figures of the College of ACES dedicate themselves to improving this school and never ask for anything in return. Do you see what they do and the impact their work has on the College of ACES? Do you say thank you?

I like to think that there are hidden figures in our own life stories as well.  I think about the people that have positively impacted my life and have played a role in getting me to this point. The first to come to mind are my parents. They deserve every ounce of gratitude and credit that they receive, but they certainly receive the bulk of it so I don’t consider them hidden figures. The hidden figures in my life are the grandparents and babysitters that made sure I was fed after school and got my homework done before my parents picked me up. They are the teachers that were the firsts to suggest I pursue a career in writing or communications. They are the various community members from my hometown that have followed my post-high school endeavors and cheered me on through texts, emails, or simply Facebook comments. All of you deserve more thanks than you realize. That is what makes you hidden figures in my life.

My challenge to all of you reading this is to look for the hidden figures. They are all around us; we just don’t look hard enough. Look for them around the College of ACES. Look for them in your own life. Once you find them, say thank you.

Give generously

Feb 7
Debra Korte, Teaching Associate, Agricultural Education

On the first day of my first full-time job, I found a piece of paper on my desk that listed the “Twelve Rules for Happiness.” I don’t know who placed it on my desk nearly 15 years ago, but through multiple moves of homes and careers, the faded and well-creased piece of paper has held a permanent position on my refrigerator.

Each item on the list is important. For whatever reason, number 7 seems especially relevant right now.

7. Give generously. There is no greater joy in life than to render happiness to others by means of intelligent giving.

I am extremely fortunate to see this philosophy demonstrated each day by those with whom I am privileged to work. Whether it’s conducting a practice job interview, volunteering to facilitate a workshop, or offering a listening ear in the spirit of empathy, the students and colleagues I am surrounded by give generously to help others.

Give wisely by means of intelligent giving. Your time, talents, and resources are valuable. Give with an open heart and an open mind. Give generously in hopes that you can inspire others to do the same.

Life is one big group project

Feb 6
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences junior

All but one of my classes this semester has a group project, and most of the time when we see this on a syllabus, it is followed by sighs and soft murmurs. Inevitably, one or two people do all the work, and the others just chill and sign on to the Google doc once to say "looks good guys," and then are never to be seen again. That being said, here is my insight on group projects.

It's real life. Almost every job setting will require you to work with a team. You are rarely ever doing something by yourself. If you work for a company, your work is contributing to a larger group of works, and this will require you to rely on a team. Not every team member will contribute equally, and that is just how it goes. If you do your part and do good work, you will be recognized and rewarded. Maybe by your boss, but if not, by your peers. The knowledge you’ve gained from doing your part is also a reward. Learning how to work in groups makes you a valuable player, and that will pay off in the long run. All these individual benefits aside, it’s nice to have others there to help. You have people to lean on and ask questions and double check your work and look at frantically when you're giving your presentation and forget the meaning of a concept on a slide. It’s all about perspective, and while you think a member may be unhelpful at first, they could just be seeing things from a different angle than you. When you're in charge of yourself, things seems easier because you have only yourself and your consequences to worry about. When you have a team, you rely on each other; your work is a reflection of theirs and vice versa. That takes a lot of trust, and that is an attribute not easily learned. 

There is a reason for group projects, and that reason is that life is one big group project. *wince* It’s hard to take in at first, but you got where you are today because you worked with a ton of people who helped you, challenged you, and got in your way, but all of them made you the kind of worker you are now. 

P.S. If you’re the kind of worker to sign on to the Google doc once and leave, you need more help.

My Dairy Management group project members.

Touring the dairy farm on campus.

We're listening

Feb 2
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

We’re listening now more than ever.

Jump over to and look at the new Illinois 4-H website. Yeah, we did that!

Illinois 4-H is a thriving, growing, vital program reaching nearly 200,000 Illinois youth a year. In the past five years, while other youth organizations have faced a decline, Illinois 4-H has grown and not just a tiny amount. We’ve grown 24 percent.

We’re working harder to represent all Illinois youth. Hispanic club membership has jumped 137 percent in five years; minority membership is up 90 percent.

We’ve kept 4-H a secret much too long. Effective organizational communication is a two-way street. We know we must learn to listen more and talk less if we want to develop meaningful relationships with clients. The new website invites two-way communication on every page, and the public is talking up a storm. In the first month of operation, website-driven questions from clients average ten a day… up from a previous five a month. Yeah, we did that!

The "Ask a Question" feature in the footer of each page sends an email request directly to the state office. "Request a Program" allows teachers' requests for programs to go directly to the county in which they live. Every program and event page allows visitors to "Tell a Friend" about their experience. With one click, visitors can post directly to their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, YouTube, and Google accounts from the page they are on. Each page also invites visitors to "Share Their Story" about a 4-H experience or “Donate” directly to the Illinois 4-H Foundation. You can also “Register” as a 4-H alum and receive quarterly newsletters.

And, families can “Join 4-H” from any page on the site.

In addition to the superb functionality, the site is visually appealing and responsive to all devices. No more spreading your fingers to magnify the print on your phone. Now, the content is mobile-friendly. And, we’ve made it easier to find the information people need. Everything is accessible in three clicks. Period.

We hope you’ll look us up. Share your story. Ask a question. Register as a 4-H alum. We’re listening.


ACES celebrates 10 years of the Global Academy

Jan 31
Leslie Sweet Myrick, Office of International Programs Media Communications Specialist

Last week dozens of ACES faculty and staff and colleagues from across the campus gathered to celebrate 10 years of the ACES Academy for Global Engagement (Global Academy).

Each year 6-8 new scholars are admitted into this unique training program but never before had all the scholars from all the different “classes” been in the same room to share experiences and celebrate the overall value of this program that has supported international activities and strengthened ACES international partnerships.    

Each year’s Global Academy program culminates with an international immersion trip, and naturally many of the stories shared focused on these trips which have often resulted in new research collaborations with international colleagues as well as expanded worldviews.

At the closing of the event’s official program which included testimonials from several of the former Academy fellows and introduction of the new class of scholars, the room was immediately loudly abuzz with conversations and comradery.  

With so many internationally focused colleagues in the same room celebrating the success of this program, it was once again so obvious to me that “ACES is International.”  

Learn more about the ACES Global Academy here:

Do something new

Jan 26
Krista Temple, Junior in Agricultural Communications

A new year and a new semester make for a great time to look for new things to do on campus.

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior in your last semester, it shouldn’t be hard to find something new or different to try. Our campus offers everything from ringing the bells at Altgeld Hall and attending a tennis match, to doing research and joining a student organization.

With more than 5,000 courses and 150 programs of study offered, the opportunities here are endless. Take an elective that you aren’t familiar with to learn about a different industry. Additionally, the diversity on our campus and the many study-abroad programs available provide many opportunities to learn about other cultures and other parts of the world.

Whether you check out some fun events, or an opportunity specifically related to your major, a new experience could help you discover a new industry or career that you are interested in and give you new perspectives before you graduate.

Altgeld Hall
See the chimes at Altgeld Hall

All our bags are packed!

Jan 20
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Calendars of Dean Kim Kidwell and Office of Advancement gift officers are filling up for the next few months. Part of those commitments involve traveling across the country to interact with ACES alumni and friends. And they want to see you!

Picture one of those Facebook “Traveling From/To” posts with the dotted lines leading from Champaign-Urbana to the following destinations:

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Naples, Florida
  • Washington, D.C.
  • St. Louis
  • Chicago

It is only the third week in January and staff have already been connecting with great ACES supporters in the Los Angeles area, Galesburg, Bloomington, and more!

If you will be in the same areas, please contact College staff to make a connection! Drop a quick e-mail to Our door is always open for visitors on campus, as well.

Gift officers Chad Vogel and Kimberly Meenen hit the road to visit with ACES alumni, donors, and friends.

Lunch at Bevier

Jan 18
Stephanie Henry, ACES Media Specialist
I am not sure what took me so long, but last semester I discovered how much I love having lunch at our student-run Bevier Café.  It has quickly become one of my favorite places to meet friends  or colleagues for lunch on campus. 

Bevier Café, located in Bevier Hall, is staffed and managed by students in Food Science and Human Nutrition. It’s a laboratory for students to learn the ins and outs of a quantity food service operation.  I am excited about what the students are able to learn there, and I know I am supporting that learning when I go to Bevier to grab lunch. 

Most importantly, though, the food is delicious. And they offer a variety of entrees, soups, side dishes, salads, sandwiches, etc. every day.  I have tried dishes prepared in ways that I have never had before, thanks to the creativity of students experimenting with new recipes. I love their salads, which vary each week, and any time they have quiche on the day’s menu, I try to stop in. 

Admittedly, I go to Bevier Café for the food, but another great benefit is all the ACES students and faculty I bump into while I am there.  I have been able to catch up with researchers who I had been hoping to get in touch with just by chance run-ins during lunchtime at Bevier. The café has a really nice atmosphere, and lunch there feels like a nice break in the middle of the day. 

And for us regulars, we know that the coffee is good, you can get recyclable to-go-boxes, and not to forget our Bevier Café punch cards. 

I am looking forward to Bevier Café’s reopening from the winter break on Jan. 23. Want to learn a little more about what they do? What’s on their menu? Visit 
Bevier offerings
A wide selection is always available.

Risks and Rewards. Adjust as Needed.

Jan 17
Debra Korte, Teaching Associate, Agricultural Education

Winter brings lots of things, including snow, ice, and cold temperatures. Sometimes we have to adjust our plans due to the unpredictable weather.

Regardless of the weather conditions, it is our perspective on the situation that allows us to see either the dangers of the winter weather or the hidden beauty in the ice and snow.

Ice is slick and dangerous. It eventually either cracks or melts. When you look at a crack in the ice, you will find that it has a definite starting point. This point diverts into several small cracks with varying endpoints. But a crack in the ice is never a straight line.

I’ve written a lot of reference letters the past few weeks for students who are applying for jobs or internships. Each student has a vision for where he or she wants to end up in life and in a career. Similar to a crack in the ice, there is a definite starting point (i.e., first job or internship) which expands into a web of opportunities. There is no straight line, but each path leads to a distinct endpoint. Along the way, each path offers something new to learn and someone to learn from.

Just like the unexpected snow and ice can change our plans, sometimes life brings unexpected breaks which require us to adjust our path. Be alert. Pay attention. Learn from others on the journey. Say “yes” to things that you know will help you reach your goals.

Ice can be risky and beautiful. Look for the potential rewards which lie within the risks. Make adjustments as needed.