Oct 24
Steve Loerch, Head, Department of Animal Sciences

Change. This time of year makes me acutely aware of change. The leaves are changing. The temperature is changing. Daylight savings time is changing. The fields have changed from pre to post-harvest.

Change is evident on the University of Illinois campus, too. The College of ACES will be changing leadership at the end of the month. Robert Hauser will retire from his role as Dean and Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell will resume that role on November 1. Dean Hauser has served the College of ACES for 35 years and his leadership will be missed. He has been a consistent advocate for the Department of Animal Sciences and his support is greatly appreciated. Fortunately, the college and department will be in good hands when the change of deans occurs. Dean Kidwell is already actively engaged in college activities and she is off to a fast start as our new leader. I urge everyone to give her a warm welcome when she arrives.

When you get to the heart of it, change is what we do at this institution. We are in the business of changing people’s lives. This occurs through the students we teach and mentor and through the discoveries we make. Looking forward to the great changes ahead!

Fall leaves

Tips for overcoming life’s hardships

Oct 20
Ariel Majewski, ACES Visual Marketing Intern

Midterm season is at its peak—an exam tomorrow, papers due Friday, an online class starting today…

And then I get the phone call. 

My 12-year-old dog needs to be put down. That’s my baby, my best friend. Some breed owners say that bichon frises can live up to 18 or even 22 years old. But this high-spirited, bubbly bichon just happens to have that rare form of bladder cancer. The academic weight falls off my shoulders as I strap on the bigger emotional baggage. And I convince myself to keep my head up, so the tears will stay balanced at the tip of my eye. 

Hardships in college happen—they don’t wait for midterms to end. In fact, these troubles seem to come at the most inopportune times. Like the “I-just-purchased-five-Monster-Energy-drinks-to-pull-an-all-nighter-at-the-UGL” kind of inopportune times. And when you need the love and support of your family the most, the long distance—usually in the form of $60 roundtrip bus commutes—is just another hindrance.

So when you receive that phone call, finish a scathing argument, get struck with an illness or injury, or experience anything else that deeply troubles you, the self-questioning begins. How do I carry on throughout the day? How can I go back out on the quad, “smiling” and waving to my friends? How do I even pretend to listen to the rest of my lectures?

When time keeps ticking while your inner-clock has stopped, here’s a few comforting suggestions to keep in mind:

 It’s okay to cry—no really

Let it out, all of it. Don’t try to “tough it out”—that’s called suppressing your emotions, and it’s not healthy. Through the midst of your busy professional and academic careers, designate a time specifically to cry. Think of it as flushing away those mental toxins.

Talk to your friends

Friends do what they do best: support each other. Alone time is certainly needed when going through rough times. But all those buzzing questions and suffocating fears will be silenced by your friends, if you choose to let them out. They may give advice, or just let their silent, attentive presence do all the comforting. Either way, none of your friends want you to think you’re alone during this time.

Take a trip home for the weekend

It’s simple. Humans weren’t designed to excel at their best during their emotionally worst. We need time to recharge. Go home to the place that you feel most familiar and confident, the place where you can personally develop and grow. Spend time with family and bond together during this difficult scenario. A change in setting can really impact your healing process.

Don’t forget about the counseling center

If you absolutely can’t afford a trip home, the counseling center is always one call away. You may feel uncomfortable expressing your most personal concerns and emotions to a stranger.  But these experts constantly work with students—they’re ready with a list of resources, and they’re ready to just talk it out. You may use the counseling center once, or you may use it multiple times throughout the semester. Maybe you’ll never use it. Just know that the counseling center is always there for your benefit. Always.

Inform your teachers

If hardships are seriously affecting your academics, let your teachers know what’s going on. Even if the instructor doesn’t recognize you out the 200 faces during lecture, let him/her know that you’re dealing with a difficult situation and coping with it. It’s always good to establish relationships with teachers anyway.

Find another emotional outlet

Listen to music, draw, play an instrument, watch funny cat videos on YouTube. Do something that you like to do to keep your mind off the subject, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Mourning will become less draining if you keep yourself preoccupied with your favorite hobbies.

I’m going to try to remember these points as I spend one last weekend with my dog. 

I love you, Skipper. I’ll never forget you.

Being a part of Illini Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow

Oct 19
Nicole Chance, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications

Choosing to come to the University of Illinois was one of my best decisions. But being involved in the Agricultural Communications department and Illini Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) at Illinois was what really reassured I had made the best decision.

The goal of ACT is to strengthen agriculture communications students through professional growth opportunities and educational programs. This has allowed me to build lasting relationships with other agriculture communication students across the country, grow in my writing and communication skills and improve upon my knowledge and passion for agriculture. A few of the places I have traveled because of ACT are Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the ACT Professional Development Trip; Kansas City, Missouri, for the National Association of Farm Broadcaster’s Conference; and St. Louis, Missouri, for Ag Media Summit.

Illini ACT is also involved in helping with Women Changing the Face of Agriculture (WCFA), an event that occurs every year and inspires young women in high school to get involved and see what the agriculture industry has to offer. During this event we take photos and video for promotional purposes, are active on social media and also design the brochure for the event. Assisting with WCFA allows us to put our skills and talents to the test in order to cooperatively work together to achieve a common goal.

Not to mention… Illini ACT has won Chapter of the Year two years in a row! So if you are looking to get involved on campus or really just want to know more about what agricultural communications is and has to offer, join us for our next meeting Wednesday, November 2, at 5:45 p.m. in the Sims Room of the ACES Library!

Illini ACT in action at the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference.

Illini ACT wins the 2016 National ACT Chapter of the Year Award for the third time in the past four years!



Oct 18
Stephanie Henry, ACES Media Specialist

If you spend time in Mumford Hall, and have made your way down the hallway on the second floor, maybe you’ve stopped to browse at the collection of newspaper and magazine clippings on the ACES’ News and Public Affairs bulletin board. It’s not uncommon to see clippings from the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Popular Science, The Atlantic, Shape or Good Housekeeping magazines, or from ag publications from around the state and nation, all featuring research or interviews from ACES researchers and faculty.

I was passing by this bulletin board one day, and it made me think of my refrigerator at home. My kids’ art work, report cards, drawings, A+ homework assignments, etc. have adorned the refrigerator over the years. I put their important papers there because I am proud of the work they have done. That refrigerator gallery is a great reminder to me, and to them, of all the progress they have made and all the interesting things they have learned.

Our bulletin board in the hallway sort of functions the same.

From interviews about herbicide resistance in crops, to articles highlighting ways ACES is exploring new therapies for diseases like cancer or diabetes, or how we are helping to strengthen families, our researchers are experts in their fields. They have made much progress over the years and they have learned a lot. To say we’re proud of the work they do is an understatement.

The next time you’re in Mumford Hall, stop by the second floor and read a few of the headlines, researcher quotes, and findings!


Focus on three

Oct 17
Debra Korte, Teaching Associate, Agricultural Education

I’ve noticed a trend. It’s about this time every year when I begin observing several changes. The days become shorter. Cooler temperatures have arrived with the Fall season. And small signs of stress are starting to appear on the faces of students and faculty. (Mine included!)

We’re at midterm. Finals are just a few weeks away. The majority of assignments are likely due in the last half of the semester. Advising appointments are (literally) happening on both sides of me every day. Students are making decisions for careers and classes. Faculty are providing support and advice. Summer internship opportunities and subsequent decisions are starting to surface.

So many things to do. So many decisions to make. So much to get done!

As my rule of thumb for many things in life, use the power of 3. When you start to feel overwhelmed with all the things that must be done, just make a list of three things. Only three. Three things which are realistic to accomplish in the day. Three things that need to be done. Three things that must be accomplished today.

Half of the Fall semester is completed, with the best half yet to come. Let go of the 300 things that will eventually need to be done. Take a deep breath of the cool, Fall air. Make a list of three things that must be done today. Do those three things.

May we all

Oct 13
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

I have a new song stuck in my head and my co-workers are probably tired of me humming the tune. Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw partnered to make the version that keeps running through my brain. I’m adding a few stanzas to speak to time spent on the University of Illinois campus. (Disclaimer – these do not follow the tune, nor the format of the writing. I will never claim to be a musician.)

May we all:

  • Feel the spring breeze on our face while sitting on the quad.
  • Experience cheering on an Illini athletic team.
  • Know the connection with an instructor that goes beyond lectures and tests.
  • Expand our network and interactions to many types of people.
  • Leave the University of Illinois better than we found it!

Now, back to the professionals.

May we all do a little bit better than the first time
Learn a little something from the worst times
Get a little stronger from the hurt times

May we all…..

Throwback Thursday – I have fun memories of watching the Marching Illini perform at the Bowl in December 1999. Illini athletic events are some of my favorite experiences.

Fulbright program: beyond the mission

Oct 11
Leslie Sweet Myrick, Office of International Programs Media Communications Specialist

I recently witnessed everything the Fulbright program was designed to be – and more – as ACES said goodbye to eight scholars from Lebanon who spent ten weeks with us.

This is the boilerplate I was provided for the official article I wrote:

“The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

But what I witnessed at our closing ceremony was more than “mutual understanding” – I witnessed that true friendships and lifelong relationships were formed. I saw hugs and tears and genuine connections.

Although I didn’t spend nearly the time with the scholars as others in my office and their mentors did, I did get the opportunity to provide conversation practice to one scholar. Of course as these things go, I ended up getting as much or more out of these meetings as she did as I learned about her and her country and culture.

The scholars left with great experiences and memories and said they are now “ambassadors for Illinois.” But I can’t help but think we at Illinois benefited just as much as they did.

Read more here.

What are you going to do after you graduate?

Oct 6
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences senior

"What are you going to do after you graduate?" The question I have a nice, well thought out, fake answer for, and the real answer only my Dad, my best friend, and my dog know. Well, and soon you will too. As a freshman, if you didn't know what you wanted to do you were told, “Don’t worry! You have four years to figure it out." Well, it's year four now and I'm nervously dodging this question every day because I HAVEN’T FIGURED IT OUT. In the midst of my anxiousness, I have found some answers/tips/thoughts for those of you in the same boat as me. Hopefully they help you out as well, and we can all adult together.

1. Breathe: You made it this far. You are smart and resourceful and whatever may come next in your life, you might not be ready for, but you will undoubtedly learn and grow from.

2. Narrow it down:  What are some classes you really enjoyed or didn't enjoy? Is there a specific job or internship that really sparked your interest? A certain company that you really liked or a professor you connected with? Write it all out and narrow it down to a couple of interests, companies, professors, ideas. Research this stuff on your own and sit with it in your thoughts for a while. It could lead to new paths you haven’t thought of before.

3. Ask all the questions: Find someone in the field you're interested in and shoot them an email. Talk to some of the companies about having a tour of their facilities or find employees willing to talk about their experiences. Go meet with your advisor/professor. They've been on this journey with you and they know how you work and what you're good and not good at. Tell them what you like to do and they'll have plenty of resources and guidance for you.

4. Seize the opportunities: I've found that the reason I don't know what I want to do yet, is because I have all these options and I haven't grabbed any of them. My toes are in the water of a lot of different ponds and I really just need to jump at this point. You may love where you end up and want to wade around or you may want to immediately get back on dry land, but if you don't jump you will never know. No one is making you do anything at this point. The choice is truly yours, and although it may sound frightening, it's so very freeing. You can choose again and again and again till something feels right and there’s no wrong way of doing it.

So I think we have a lot more than four years to "figure it out." We have the rest of our lives to figure it out and even then I don't know if that's enough time. But I'm sure I will do things I love and things I don't love and I'll experience more than I can imagine. You will too! We got this.

Dept of Animal Sciences seniors sign

Register as a 4-H alum during National 4-H Week

Sep 29
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

What do Chancellor Robert J. Jones, Coach John Groce, Philanthropist Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, Professor Bruce Fouke, Voice of Illini Sports Brian Barnhart, and I all have in common? We were 4-H members and can trace where we are now to the lessons we learned in 4-H.

In Chancellor Jones’ welcome address, he pledged to uphold the mission of the land-grant mission which created Extension and 4-H. “The land-grant mission is in my bloods, and I am a proud product of it,” Jones said. “And as chancellor at Illinois, one of the original land grants established by the Morrill Act, I have the opportunity to help ensure that my experience is one that any student can have in this century of higher education.”

Each 4-H alum has their own unique story. 4-H camp, public speaking contest, club officer elections, national trips, county fairs, and beloved 4-H club leaders; your 4-H memories helped make you the person you are today.

We’d like to hear the story of all the folks on campus who are 4-H alum, and give you a 4-H alumni t-shirt to celebrate your 4-H heritage. There’s no better time to relive 4-H than during National 4-H Week Oct. 2-8. Go online @ and complete a short survey. Then, drop by 101 Mumford Hall and pick up your t-shirt. It’s that simple. The invitation is open to all current University of Illinois staff, faculty, and students.

My memory? It would have to be my 4-H leader, Phyllis Schultz. I learned to sew and cook and speak and lead from Phyllis. I can feel her breath on my neck still today as she leaned over you at the sewing machine and watched you stitch each seam. When needed, she handed you the seam ripper, and you got to do it all over again. She encouraged me during my first speech as I showed my club how to make shaken pudding.

She was a living example of hard work and selfless giving; a lesson I try to live daily. Even as cancer stole her health, she kept working. She never gave up. So I “4-H” for her. I 4-H for the first generation families who need to learn the lessons I’ve learned. I 4-H for my community, country and world.

I have the best job in the world because every day, I bring people to 4-H. Be sure to register as a 4-H alum and share your 4-H story.

University of Illinois Chancellor Robert J. Jones,

Philanthropist Lila Jeanne Eichelberger

All the Fall Things

Sep 29
Paige Jones, Junior in Agricultural Communications

It’s time to break out the scarves and boots because October is here! October is an exciting and beautiful time to be on the University of Illinois campus as we watch the leaves turn to Illini orange and paint the Quad with school spirit. We look forward to football games, club retreats, and Homecoming as we’ve all officially settled in to the school year, and the fall semester has really taken off. As exciting as this time of year can be, it’s also extremely overwhelming. You begin to worry about the career fair and midterm exams all while you’re probably getting sick from the cold weather. As a junior, I feel like I have finally figured out the right way to conquer October so I’ve compiled a list of necessities so you, too, can survive October.

1. Cold Medicine
First things first, this cold has got to go. It’s harder to focus in class when you feel miserable, and you’re self-conscious about how loud you’re coughing during lecture. Buy some cold medicine and some cough drops to help get you through the day and, most importantly, try your best to get enough sleep.

2. Business Professional Apparel
The ACES & Sciences Career Fair is next Thursday, October 6! You’ll need to look your best to impress the employers. Whether you’re at the career fair or in an interview, looking professional gives you confidence to help you land that summer internship or receive a job offer.

3. A Study Room
Learning how to rent a study room was quite possibly the most helpful thing I learned my freshman year. Visit to call dibs on a study room in any university library. Whether you rent a room for a group project or just for some privacy, you’re bound to be much more productive so there’s no need to stress over upcoming projects and exams.

4. Illini Gear
Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue… Homecoming is October 23 – 29, and it is the perfect opportunity to show some school spirit. Football games, volleyball games, and Homecoming are all great excuses to buy some new Illini apparel.

The semester is in full swing in the month of October, but I’m confident we’ll all survive the tough exams and still have some time for a little fun. Fall at the University of Illinois is often equal parts incredible and stressful. I hope my pieces of advice are helpful as you begin to conquer October. The most important advice I can offer is to enjoy October, enjoy this beautiful campus, and enjoy being an Illini.

Fall blog