Off to New Zealand

Jan 2
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Passport in hand, excitement in the air, and a suitcase that weighs exactly 50 pounds; that’s right, I’m studying abroad! New Zealand, here I come!

This will be my third trip abroad and I cannot wait! Although I loved being home for the holidays, there’s just something about being in one place for too long. I get restless and I need a challenge or a new adventure.

I found myself sharing these words with a high school student the other day when she asked what I loved most about being a student in the College of ACES. I told her that there’s always a new opportunity that comes along and challenges me or sends me down a path I never thought I’d find. Just when I think I have things planned out, another opportunity comes along and there I am adjusting to add one more thing to the mix so I don’t miss out.

This trip to New Zealand will be an fun adventure to say the least. After almost 24 hours of traveling, our group will arrive in New Zealand ready for two action-packed weeks of agriculture, tourism, and culture. I am so excited to learn about agriculture in another country. Previously I’ve visited China and the Dominican Republic so I expect that New Zealand will be like nothing I’ve seen before! I have my camera packed so be on the lookout for photos and updates coming soon!

New opportunity in the ACES Alumni Association

Dec 28
Tina Veal, Director of Alumni Relations

So what exactly is the Round Barn Society? The College of ACES Alumni Association launched the society in September 2012. The honorary society was formed to honor alumni who have made an impact and provided significant contributions to the college's rich heritage. Members of the society include all past board members of the Home Ec Alumni Association, the Ag Alumni Association, and the ACES Alumni Association, in addition to all past winners of the ACES Award of Merit including Ag and Home Economics Award of Merit and all past outstanding young alumni recipients.

Honorees are being recognized with a Round Barn Society pin and will receive special correspondence from the ACES Alumni Association, including sharing opportunities to get involved. A newsletter and survey will be sent to members in early January 2013 to seek input from members and provide updates from the College of ACES. More than 350 alumni were considered charter members of this group. A list of charter members can be found online.

We look forward to engaging outstanding alumni through the Round Barn Society in the upcoming years!

To learn more about the Round Barn Society visit

A job well done

Dec 21
K.C. Ting, Head, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

One of the highlights of the fall semester for the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering was the ABE 100 challenge project competition held on December 17. This year, 49 freshmen on 15 teams of two to four students each completed projects and made poster and verbal presentations in various areas of the ABE discipline.

ABE 100 is an introduction to the agricultural and biological engineering profession with Interactive class activities that present concepts necessary for becoming a successful engineer, including time management, design concepts, ethics, and team building. Dr. Angela Green has worked extremely effectively with dozens of ABE department faculty, staff, and students to guide and support the 15 ABE 100 student teams.

The poster competition is the final activity of the course, intended to promote peer-learning and practice task-based problem-solving and technical communication skills. With team names such as Traction in Action, Waste Watchers, The Extractors, and Nanostuds, it is obvious to me that these students are truly enjoying themselves as they take advantage of a unique learning opportunity. While viewing the posters, it was easy to get a sense that the challenge project experience is relevant, impactful, significant, and exciting (R.I.S.E.) to our students. What a wonderful way to start their ABE “career.”

This year’s best overall winner, Traction in Action, worked with the Illini Pullers to determine how weight distribution affects traction, in order to recommend an optimal weight distribution for off-road vehicles.

All of the posters are on display on the first floor of the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building for a full year until the next year’s competition. Please come by to see the excellent work our students are doing. And congratulations to all the ABE 100 teams on a job well done!

Wrapping it up

Dec 21
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

While taking care of some of the annual ritual involving paper, scissors, ribbon, and tape, I paused to think about a few things pertaining to ACES this past year.

As a parent, my eldest daughter graduated from ACES in May 2012. One of the most exciting things you can experience as a parent is the opportunity to see your child walk across that commencement stage in Assembly Hall, and to receive acknowledgement for four years of hard work and achievement. Knowing that she earned her degree in a program renowned for its excellent teaching and results, in her case Hospitality Management in Food Science and Human Nutrition, certainly justified the investment of time, toil, and money. A highlight of the program was involving the whole family, those near and far, to celebrate her capstone learning experience in February, as her customers in her fine dining event, themed Arabian Nights! Mom even served as a guest chef!

As a teacher, I had the privilege of leading 24 incredible students in ACE/BADM 436, the International Business Immersion Program. With the fabulous support of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Jessa Barnard, we learned in the classroom, wound our way through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, and produced insightful documentation of critical issues facing segments of the food and agribusiness industries, here and in the European Union. The young men and women from ACES and Business who participated in the course demonstrated to me that some of the most accomplished professionals of the future will be from the University of Illinois.

As an alumnus, the orange and blue bled through on some memorable occasions. One of personal significance was the first reunion in over 36 years of guys from my housing unit, most of whom are also alumni of the former College of Agriculture, now ACES. While some of us have interacted over the years, it is amazing to pick up where you left off the day you left campus. Another notable occasion was the turnout on a warm, sunny September morning for this year’s Salute to Agriculture tailgate. Even with the aid of several department heads, we couldn’t make breakfast sandwiches fast enough for the happy throng of ACES supporters. The Illini even won the football game!

As a team member, I resolved last year to do my best as a college staff member, and yes, to offer my prayers for the University of Illinois. We all know that our beloved university has had its ups and downs. But who would have guessed a year ago, that our very own Dr. Robert Easter, former Dean, Head of Animal Sciences, and faculty member in ACES, would be the 19th President of the University of Illinois! Those who know Bob also know that he has brought a palpable sense of well-being to our institution.

And that’s a wrap on 2012.

ACES and Business students in the 2012 International Business Immersion Program at the IBIP symposium in Brussels, Belgium, sponsored by Baron Piet van Waeyenberge, an ACE alumnus, at the Flemish Business Club – De Warande.

Happy Holidays from the College of ACES

Dec 21
Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES

On behalf of our family in the College of ACES, we want to wish you a joyous holiday filled with peace, love and prosperity.

Going home

Dec 20
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Every year there are a few quiet weeks of winter break on the University of Illinois campus. Finals are over, the classrooms are empty, and the books are put away – it’s winter break. During this time, students head home for the holidays to enjoy time with family and friends.

As I was driving home for winter break the other day, I couldn’t wait to turn down that black top and see my house decorated in lights. My whole family was inside getting ready for our first holiday family gathering. My mom was standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes, my stepdad was setting the table, and my brother’s truck was in the driveway delivering the ribs he’d been smoking all day. As I turned into the driveway, the dog came running out to greet me and I felt like the happiest college student in the whole world. I was home.

Over the past few days I’ve been helping my mom bake, visiting old friends, and catching up on the time I’ve missed helping on the farm. I’m looking forward to a few more family gatherings, the ‘past presidents dinner’ for my FFA chapter, and hopefully enough snow to build a snowman in the next week!

I’m sure my time at home will fly by, but I’m going to make the most of it before I board a plane for my study abroad trip to New Zealand on December 30!

Beginnings and endings

Dec 20
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

Last Friday was a big day, with many new freshmen receiving the great news that they had been admitted into the College of ACES. I received several emails from excited students who cannot wait to begin their college careers, and it reminded me of how privileged I am (and how fun it is) to work in a setting that is so special to so many people.

A few hours later on Friday evening, ACES hosted a reception for December graduates. It made me think about how proud I am of our students, and how quickly time goes. Wasn’t it just a few months ago when these students were excited about starting college?

Such is life on a college campus…we welcome new members into our college family, and we send our graduates out into the world with warm memories and our fondest wishes for success. To all of our ACES friends and family, have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

MANRRS-Illinois Chapter: A year of leadership and service

Dec 19
Jesse Thompson, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is serving as advisor to the student members of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences Chapter (MANRRS-Illinois) and witnessing their leadership activities and commitment to service.

At the 2012 National Conference in Atlanta, Ga., 12 members competed in both undergraduate and graduate research competitions, with two members winning national awards.  In addition, three members assumed national leadership roles. These members include Derrick Rhodes, an Agricultural Education graduate from Chicago and current graduate student and teacher. He was elected the 2012-2013 Region V Graduate Student Vice-President. Chicago native Naomi Harper, a Human Nutrition major, was elected the 2012-2013 National Parliamentarian. Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences graduate student James Totton of Greensboro, N.C., was named the 2012-2013 Region II Graduate Student Vice-President.

In October, MANRRS-Illinois served as the host for 2012 MANRRS Region V Leadership Development Conference. More than 200 members from 14 universities travelled to the Urbana-Champaign campus. With the theme being diversity in the workplace, professionals from companies and organizations such as Dow Agro Sciences, Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, John Deere, MSU Regional Food Systems, and USDA Fish and Wildlife, shared their perspectives about building an inclusive workforce that values differences. The event keynote speaker, Ms. Karen Washington, the president of the New York City Coalition for Community Gardening, gave an inspiring address that challenged conference participants as scholars and future leaders to play a national role in helping to encourage healthier and greener communities in our urban cities.

MANRRS-Illinois members contributed to the welfare of the local community. Last spring, the ladies of the chapter participated in the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Conference.  This event provided an opportunity for more than 400 young women to learn more about the contributions made by women in agriculture and the significant future roles available in agriculture. In the fall, our members joined ACES in promoting Inclusive Illinois Day, a campus-wide diversity event. Members were stationed at the Inclusive Illinois Day south quad tent, were they encouraged fellow ACES students, faculty, and staff to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness by signing the Inclusive Illinois pledge statement.

The chapter also teamed up with other campus organizations to provide service to the campus and local Champaign-Urbana community. Members volunteered with I-help, a campus effort to promote community service around the Champaign and Urbana area; spent a day working alongside with social service organizations such as Reading Across America; and volunteered at a local community garden in the Champaign area. For the Christmas holiday, members have agreed to be bell ringers with the Salvation Army.

We’ve had a busy year in MANRRS-Illinois, and are looking forward to a great 2013.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Dec 14
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

December is a notoriously busy month for a variety of reasons. Holidays and traveling are probably what come to mind for most people, along with final exams for students. In addition to the holiday madness, here are just a few of the things going on in my world in the Office of Academic Programs:

  • Freshman admissions-the priority notification date for fall, 2013 applicants was December 14, and post-priority applications are due January 2, 2013. That’s lots of reading and reviewing.
  • Also admissions-related, students who left campus and want to return for spring had a deadline of December 15 for submission of their reentry petitions. Even more reading and reviewing!
  • Fall grades are due December 26 at noon. A couple days after that, we’ll begin what’s called the Academic Standing Review process, which is an opportunity for a holistic evaluation of the entire record of those students who were assigned as academic drop by the Banner system at the conclusion of the term or who were on College Probation. Still more reading and reviewing…
  • Those undergraduates who are completing their degree requirements in the fall, 2012 term are busily sending transcripts and visiting our Admissions and Records Supervisor, Mick Harmon, to make sure they do in fact have everything done. And Mick carefully reads and reviews all of the degree audits then to ensure all is indeed in order.

The list could go on for pages, but you get the idea—it is a busy time for everyone, and the semester has flown by yet again. Good luck on finals to all of our ACES students, congratulations to those of you who will find out that you’re ACES-students-to-be via the freshman priority notification today, and a big congratulations to all the December graduates!

Sweet Home Chicago

Dec 13
Molly Singraber, Senior in ACES

As this semester comes to a close, it is hard to shake the excitement of traveling home. I have dreams of traveling down I-57, taking the exit to my street, and seeing my house draped in twinkling lights for the first time. There is nothing quite like that first step into your house after a long week of finals. The cookies waiting from my mom are not a bad consolation either.

The end of this semester has made me reflect on going home. While it’s a great feeling to head north, I take comfort in feeling a little sad to leave Champaign. As college students, we have the good fortune of being able to build a home-away-from-home. In my opinion, the best way to tell if you have made the right decision about college is the feeling you get when you are traveling home for breaks. The people I have met, experiences I have had, and coursework I have taken through my seven semesters at the U of I have made leaving for three weeks an unappealing thought.

We build bonds to the lives we have grown independently from the security of our hometowns. The bond that I have built to this campus is directly rooted in the people I have met. In the College of ACES, a Chicago girl could find herself swimming in uncharted waters. However, once I transferred into the college, I found that the individuals I met were welcoming, inspiring, and eager to teach. Each day, I learn something that I can apply to my life personally or professionally. I consider myself lucky to have been accepted into a college that is continually producing students who are making positive influences on the future of society.

Home has taken on new meaning for me since my acceptance into the College of ACES. It has made me realize that home can be an emotion we attach to a sequence of places, instead of just one stationary place. For me, Chicago is home; Champaign-Urbana is home; my desk, where I write this very blog post, is home. So whether it’s a cornfield, a skyscraper, or mom’s home-cooking, embrace the chances to find your homes.