The Alumni Difference

Apr 15
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES
  

Today Tami Craig Schilling, a 1990 agricultural communications graduate, will be honored with the ACES Alumni Association Award of Merit at the College of ACES and Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards Banquet. This morning I had the chance to sit down and chat with her and a few of my fellow students about our program. Why? Because she genuinely wanted to know our perspective.

Our alumni care. They are engaged. They don’t want to just meet us in passing and shake our hands. They want to know what internships we scored for the summer, how our classes are going, where we want to be in five years, and most importantly, how they can help us succeed.

When choosing a college, its academic reputation and your financial commitment play a key role in the decision-making process. But what students might not consider is the college’s alumni support. The strength of the alumni foundation often correlates with scholarship, internship, job placement and networking opportunities. I feel fortunate to have met so many phenomenal alumni here, including Tami.

Someday, I hope to be that alum who will take time out of a busy day to check in with students and show them just how much I care.

ACES 2-13 Award of Merit Winners
We are celebrating the 2013 ACES Award of Merit winners on campus today. From l to r are Doug Hixon, James Fraley, Lynette Marshall, Tami Craig Schilling and David Shockey

Illinois Marathon season

Apr 11
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising
  

Saturday, April 27 marks the fifth-annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Three of the past four years, I’ve run the half-marathon (I didn’t run the year I’d given birth less than six weeks prior to the race!), and I’m running it again this year. I have a love/hate relationship with running: I’m not one of those people to whom it comes naturally, I seem to battle some minor injury or another constantly, and I have yet to ever experience the alleged “runner’s high.  Nonetheless, running is my go-to for stress relief, and I do get some of my best ideas while running, so I guess it is kind of professional development, too!

Even though I prefer to run solo, there’s something about being at a big event like the Illinois Marathon, surrounded by thousands of other people doing the same crazy thing you are and thousands more cheering from the sidelines that is a truly amazing feeling of community. It has been interesting to learn of all of the members of the ACES community who also participate in this event—each year, it seems like I meet at least two or three students who have run one of the Illinois Marathon events before and/or are planning to run it this year, and in conversation with colleagues, I learn of about a handful of people who participate too who I didn’t know were fellow runners. I won’t name names without their consent, but let’s suffice it to say that the College of ACES is well represented with some marathoners and half-marathoners with pretty impressive times!

As they say in all of the Illinois Marathon marketing materials, maybe I will “C-U there”!

Illinois Marathon

30 days and counting

Apr 11
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES
  
And the countdown to graduation begins. Just one more final project and three journal entries, quizzes and exams stand between me and flipping that tassel from right to left. My graduation regalia has been ordered, and I’ve registered for the College of ACES Tassel Turn Reception and the Commencement Ceremony. While I’m technically ready to leave the hallowed halls of Illinois, I know a part of me would be content to be an ACES student forever.
Graduation cap

Spring has sprung

Apr 10
Molly Singraber, Senior in ACES
  

My favorite time of spring semester is the awakening of campus from winter hibernation. The gradual change in temperature has brought people outside to start enjoying the glorious spring weather. I enjoy all the campus events that spring brings. I plan to take part in my favorite activities such as drinking iced coffee, running outdoors, and barbecuing. This spring, however, I want to try a new activity that I have placed on my growing bucket list; gardening.

Last spring semester, I participated in the course Horticulture 105 Home Vegetable Gardening. I learned the importance of small gardens and ways to create my own small garden at home. This week, I will attempt to start my own vegetable garden with the help of my roommates. We plan to grow peppers and tomatoes. I am anxious to see if I have developed a green thumb or if gardening is better left to the experts!

Spring has sprung

Food Security and Food Justice Colloquy

Apr 10
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications
  

Just a few years ago, the College of ACES lost an outstanding Extension professional, person, and community servant, Dr. Robin Orr. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Robin and it was my pleasure to help a colleague of hers, William Kling, honor her with a special event, the Robin Orr Colloquy. (Note – I also learned a new word. Colloquy – n. discussion: a formal conversation or discussion). Kling determined that he wanted the event to address food security and food justice, topics he worked on closely with Robin.

On March 28, the Heritage Room of the ACES library held a full crowd of students, faculty, staff and members of the University of Illinois community who came together for this event that covered food availability, sustainable production, and food assistance programs. Panelists including University of Illinois professors Dr. Craig Gundersen and Dr. Barbara Fiese, University of Illinois Extension’s Linda Crawl-Jackson, Eastern Illinois Food Bank Director Jim Hires, and local sustainable farmer David Bane all contributed varied viewpoints to the discussion.

The lively discussion presented one fact noting that 1 in 5 people in eastern Illinois is dealing with hunger. The number increases to 1 in 4 when pinpointed to youth. This was just one piece of information highlighting the proximity and intensity of the subject. Much of the conversation could have spun off into independent discussions of just one point that was presented. This is one of the reasons that Kling hopes to sponsor another similar event of this type next year.

Orr, who passed away in 2010, touched more than one million of Illinois' most vulnerable citizens with food assistance and education programs through her role in Extension. She served on numerous state and national committees to guide the development and administration of food program legislation. Additionally, she collaborated with fellow researchers and nutrition advocates on subjects including obesity, cancer, hunger and food policy reform.

Food Security and Food Justice Colloquy

The Best Day

Apr 9
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES
  

I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan by any means, but her song “The Best Day” is one of my favorites. This song makes me think of my wonderful childhood and how fortunate I am to have parents who support me in everything I do. I truly believe that days spent with family are the best days, which is why I am looking forward to this weekend on the University of Illinois campus. It’s Mom’s Weekend!

Mom’s weekend means lots of things: the ACES student awards banquet, the Horticulture Club’s flower show, shopping, the Sigma Alpha breakfast, dinner with my friends and their moms, and so much more! Most importantly, it means that I get to spend the entire weekend with my mom on this campus that I love so much. I’m the youngest of six kids and I am the only one that attended the University of Illinois so these past few years of Mom’s and Dad’s weekends have been full of new adventures.

A lot of people think that when you move away to college you become disconnected from your family except during vacation time and holidays. It’s really quite opposite. Moving away to college provides new opportunities to share your home away from home with your family on special weekends like this one. After all, “The family is like that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.” – Dodie Smith

Ellen Reeder and her mom

Dietetics program celebrates National Nutrition Month

Apr 8
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications
  

The Student Dietetic Association collaborated with the University’s Dining Services for National Nutrition Month in March to highlight the importance of portion sizes, healthy meal preparation and various topics relating to nutrition. National Nutrition Month is an educational and informational campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme was “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” which focused on making educated dietary decisions and developing healthy eating habits.

In the classroom, students in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition’s Communication in Nutrition course held their annual Nutrition Fair on March 13 in the Ikenberry Commons. Students created displays on nutrition issues ranging from the essential nutrients (fat, carbohydrates, protein, etc.) to MyPlate. Regardless of your nutritional IQ, National Nutrition Month at UIUC offers the opportunity for everyone to increase their awareness and celebrate the joys of healthy eating.

National Nutrition Month

From Illinois to Australia

Apr 5
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing
  

Experiencing life in a different country changes you. It opens your eyes to see just how big and how small our world can be. My husband Dan and I recently returned from a 12-day trip to Sydney, Australia, where he was invited to judge the Sydney Royal Easter Angus Cattle Show.

Dan Shike judging cattle
Dan evaluating 200 head of Angus cattle during the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Throughout the past 12 years, Dan, an assistant professor in animal sciences in the College of ACES, has coached many great students on the U of I livestock judging team. In addition, he has worked with many talented Australian students who have traveled to the United States to Champaign-Urbana through the Angus Australia judging scholarship program. In 1979, Dr. Doug Parrett, interim head of the U of I Department of Animal Sciences, judged cattle in Australia for four weeks and recognized that there was a strong interest among Angus breeders to develop stronger youth programs and to develop new young judges for their country. During that trip, Dr. Parrett hosted small judging clinics – the first of their kind for youth in Australia.

Dr. Parrett encouraged Angus Australia to identify an outstanding youth judge each year. If the association could sponsor them to America, he offered to host them as visitors of the University of Illinois for a semester where they could learn judging, meat animal evaluation and more. Long story short, the program launched in 1980, and 33 years later, it’s still going strong boasting returning scholarship winners who have gone on to be leaders in the Australian meat animal industry.

Our experience abroad was unique because we were guided nearly every day by some of these former U of I visitors, as well as some new Australian friends, who showed us their country and opened our eyes to new ways of thinking. Their stories are now part of our stories. And hopefully, we were able to leave a little of our story with them as well.

Australia Collage
(clockwise, starting at top left) Dan discussing his beef efficiency research during a lecture at the University of New England in Armidale; Catching up with a group of former judging scholarship winners catch up after the show in Sydney; Attending the Royal Easter Show's Cattle Dinner in the Council Stand with Chief Steward Alison McIntosh; Visiting Rangers Valley, the premier long-fed beef operation in Australia.

One of our favorite experiences during the trip was leading a cattle judging clinic with 15 youth at Orlanga Angus in Camden, New South Wales. (Dan and I met and competed together on the same livestock judging teams throughout college – we always enjoy helping young people with similar passions.) In the morning, Dan led a practice workout similar to what he would do with the U of I livestock judging team instructing them on selection traits and decision making. Later that day, he helped run the contest classes with the four students vying for the scholarship to attend the University of Illinois. I worked with the others on how to give oral reasons, improve their public speaking schools, and grow their cattle terminology.

Judging Workout at Orlanga Angus
Teaching and interacting with the youth, meeting Bruce and Patricia at Orlanga Angus, and working alongside the leaders of Angus Australia was amazing. Despite a few differences in the scenery and “barn talk,” it felt like home.

What started out in my mind as a vacation to see a few kangaroos, watch Dan judge a cattle show, and relax on the beach, ended up being a life-changing opportunity to develop treasured friendships.

Australia is even more captivating than I imagined. I will never forget watching the sun set against the Sydney Harbor Bridge or driving along the gently winding roads of the New South Wales countryside viewing cattle, sheep and horses at every turn. I can still feel the soft sand under my toes at Bondi Beach and the spray of the ocean while cruising along on the Manly Ferry.

But when people ask what I enjoyed most about Australia, it will always be the people.

March Gladness

Apr 2
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs
  

OK, I know it’s April. But as I look back on March, it was quite a month. From a scheduling standpoint I guess you could say it was madness, but from my perspective it was March Gladness. Beginning with a leadership event in Washington, D.C., and including dozens of meetings with prospective and admitted students, presentations at admitted student events on and off campus, chatting with visiting students during Orange and Blue Days, the conclusion of the JBT scholarship interview process, and the selection of the winners for a couple of our top ACES awards for juniors and seniors (no, I’m not releasing the names of the winners yet!), March was an extraordinary month. But there are two events in particular about which I’d like to discuss more.

March is always ExplorACES month, and that is one of the most enjoyable events of the year. A full year of preparation goes into the event, and I’m fortunate to be one of the advisors who works with the student steering committee (did you know ExplorACES is a student-run event!?!). To see their hard work come to fruition in the form of an organized, highly attended event is very rewarding. As always, ExplorACES was visited by hundreds and hundreds of prospective students and their families who witnessed firsthand what our students experience every day: a close-knit, family atmosphere with a tremendous number of opportunities inside and outside the classroom. Thanks to all who helped with and attended ExplorACES – let’s do it again next year!

We also hosted a scholarship reception for College of ACES scholarship recipients and their donors. We cannot do enough to show our appreciation to our donors, and I know they enjoy the opportunity to visit with their recipients. As part of the event, Rod Stoll, Vice President of Public Relations for Farm Credit Services of Illinois and ACES alumnus, shared a wonderful message on behalf of the donors. He spoke about the establishment of scholarships being grounded in three P’s:  a specific purpose, a passion, and the intent to pay back. What a beautiful and inspiring message for all of us, regardless of our ability to finance a scholarship. We each are passionate about something, and from that passion can develop a purpose and an intent to pay back through sharing our time, knowledge, or other resources. I I’m blessed in my job to have the opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, and I hope you are as well. Best wishes for a wonderful spring!

ExplorACES 2013

Commitment to Innovation

Apr 1
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications
  
On March 11, Food Science and Human Nutrition students traveled north for Chicago Institute of Food Technologists Student Night. This year, students had the opportunity to tour the Griffith Laboratories to learn about their commitment to innovation, participate in resume building workshops and speed networking activities, and attend a dinner. During the dinner, attendees heard Griffith Laboratories’ own Chris Carr discuss “global trends and their impact today on innovation, responding to the needs of the market, and exploring our responsibilities aligned with global technical citizenship.” The students would like to thank the Chicago Section IFT and their affiliated companies and Griffith Laboratories for their planning of this event and continued support.

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