Illinois Corn Growers Association scholarship program supports five ACES students

Pictures of the five scholarship recipients and the ACES wordmark.
Scholarship recipients include Gage Miller (top left), David Mock (bottom left), Dylan Zwilling (center), Logan Bend (top right), and Ava Splear (bottom right)

URBANA, Ill. — This year, the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) awarded five scholarships to undergraduate students, all of whom are part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“We are thrilled with the amount of participation given this is the first year we are offering scholarships after a short hiatus,” said ICGA president Matt Rush, farmer and former agriculture and 4-H coordinator for Illinois Extension, which is part of ACES. “We are proud to be able to assist future generations of agriculture producers and leaders as well as encourage continuing education in ag.”

The recipients include Logan Bend and David Mock, who are majoring in agricultural and consumer economics; Gage Miller and Ava Splear, both agricultural leadership, education and communications (ALEC) majors; and Dylan Zwilling, an incoming freshman pursuing a degree in engineering technology and management for agricultural systems through the Parkland Pathways Program. Recipients also receive membership to the ICGA for one year.

“We are working hand in hand with trade organizations and commodity groups, like Illinois Corn, to cultivate a bright future for our organizations — and our industry — by supporting students like these recipients,” said ACES Dean Germán Bollero. “Together, we are working on a bigger picture and efforts like this put paintbrushes in the hands of future leaders.” 

Illinois Corn’s support is “vital to the success of the next generation of leaders through financial assistance, networking opportunities, and engaging with the goals of the organization,” according to Bend.

The goals of the checkoff organizations often align with the goals of students like Mock, who aims to become a public servant and advocate for food security and address agricultural and environmental issues within the U.S. He said such support is essential. 

The five scholarship recipients will gain experience networking with professionals by attending at least one Illinois Corn leadership meeting this year.

“We’re forming connections that will allow us to gain access to knowledge and experiences within various sectors of the agricultural industry,” Splear said. “These programs inspire students to explore organizations and topics that they may not have considered before.”

According to Miller, these organizations “ensure students are well-prepared and equipped to tackle challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in their industries.”

Support from trade organizations and commodity groups allows young leaders to further their education through college, Zwilling said. “With this vital experience and knowledge gained, the next generation of leaders will be better suited to share the story of agriculture and help lead agricultural organizations to support farmers."

The College of ACES awards more than $3.5 million in scholarships each year thanks to generous support from alumni, friends, and corporate partners. Learn more about ways to give.