U of I Extension helping counties prepare for the worst

Sep 27
Rick Atterberry, ACES Media Communications Specialist

One of the questions in this post-9/11, post-Hurricane Katrina world is how smaller counties and communities can be better prepared to meet emergencies.  University of Illinois Extension is assisting some of these counties as they plan to face the uncertainties of disaster response. 

Extension has helped counties:

  • Complete mitigation plans
  • Protect small businesses and non-profits
  • Organize community groups to assist in responding to disasters
  • Provide guidance on cropland and landscape restoration
  • Help residents cope with financial uncertainties
  • Plan to care for children, the elderly and other at risk populations
  • Assess structural and crop damage for aid applications
  • Quantify economic impact
  • And address other related issues

Just last week, during this National Preparedness Month, Lisa Fulkerson, County Director and Carrie McKillip, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development Educator in Henderson, Knox, McDonough and Warren Counties hosted a disaster exercise at the Extension office in Stronghurst. I served as the controller for the event which simulated the derailment of several cars of a freight train and the subsequent leak of a petroleum based product from a tank car. This is a very real concern in a town that has 85 trains (not train cars…trains!) a day run through it.  We were assisted by a representative of a cleanup firm under contract to Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.

Driving the 3-plus hour drive back to Champaign that evening, the thought struck me that more students live in dorms and certified housing on campus than live in all of Henderson County. Yet, 31 people, representative of dozens more in their respective organizations, took time out to participate in the exercise. As we went through the various scenarios it was evident that they knew exactly what local resources would be available to meet any challenge because those responsible were their friends and neighbors.

It also occurred to me that the Extension staff around the state are some of those same resources in their communities. So during this month, whether as part of their job duties or as volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians, blood donors or members of churches and other organizations who support emergency response, we thank those Extension staff or others in the College of ACES who help keep their neighbors safe when the worst happens.


Searching for perspective

Sep 26
Ariel Majewski, ACES Marketing Intern & junior in journalism with a minor in music

Photography is all about searching for new perspectives. Looking for something you’ve never noticed before. Delving into an environment you’ve never thought to explore. I take this philosophy to heart as a first-year photography intern for the college of ACES. I am a sophomore majoring in journalism with absolutely no background in agricultural, consumer, and environmental sciences.

None. Zip.

Thankfully, my Ag Comm roommate comes to my rescue on this field. Shout out to her for informing me of the existence of poultry competitions! And what FFA stands for. And how to distinguish every tree on campus.

Needless to say, I have much to learn about events, registered student organizations, and research conducted in all ACES departments—because even photographers have to do a little research before showing up to their assignments. The more I know about the people and work involved, the better I can represent their efforts and personalities via picture.

Another fun challenge in my internship is how I showcase my photos. I work in the mobile lands of Instagram. But before I obtained this position, I had not posted a single picture on my own Instagram. Did I mention that my friend created the account for me? I still don’t think she ever told me my password…

I also have to learn the art of Instagramming with a Nikon camera instead of a smartphone. Although I love my Galaxy S7, there’s something about a $500 lens that screams “use me!” So with the lovely help of Yahoo answers, I have been able to successfully transfer my photos to Instagram without ever touching my Android.

When I attend any event, I take hundreds of pictures. I love close-ups, bird’s eye angles, low angles—really any way that requires me to contort myself in a ridiculous position. It’s easy to pick 60 of my favorites and create a huge Facebook album. But for Instagram, I have to choose one photo. I try to find a perspective that focuses on a small aspect but still reflects the entire event.

After I find the correct photo to use, I proceed to the hardest step. Captions. Oh captions—how you tease my brain. As a journalist, I constantly have to speak with an objective mind. But with Instagram captions, I need to add that advertising spin which does not come so naturally. And I always seem to forget at least one hashtag. #thestruggleisreal

After four weeks on the job, I have already gained some insightful lessons. First, I’ve learned to stay at an event until it’s completely over. Not five minutes before it’s over, not before the last round of applause. Not even if I already have 400 pictures covering the event. One night, I took 165 pictures of a speaker throughout his lecture, and he only smiled at the end during the questioning. It was a brief smile, but the picture set a heart-warming tone. His facial expression and posture illustrated passion for his profession and animate desire to help students succeed. My favorite picture by far.

Finally, I’ve learned to always upload my photos to a flash drive. You never know when a little corn beetle may crawl into your laptop and screw up your hardware. That’s one bug McAfee can’t fix.

When I first arrived on campus my freshman year, I never thought I would become part of the ACES story. But I am so glad I did, and I am looking forward to preserving more ACES moments to come.

Ariel and camera

Attending the career fair

Sep 21
Krista Temple, Junior in Agricultural Communications

In just a few short weeks, potential employers will fill the gym at the ARC and student will put on their most professional outfits. The ACES & Science Career Fair is almost here! As a student, it’s easy to be a bit nervous for the career fair. From one student to another, here are some tips for a smooth and successful career fair.

1. Do your research.
Do your research and know ahead of time which employers you want to talk to. If there is a company you are really interested in, find out more about their organization and see what positions they are hiring for.

2. Refine your resume.
Update your resume and bring it in to Career Services’ drop-in hours to get tips on how to improve it.

3. Just go!
Even if you’re just a freshman, go to the career fair. I went as a freshman and honestly had no idea what I was doing. While it was overwhelming and a bit scary that year, when I went back as a sophomore, I knew exactly what to expect and had a plan of attack.

The ACES & Sciences Career Fair will be on October 6 from 1:30 to 6 p.m. at the ARC. You never know what opportunities you might discover! Good luck!

ACES & Science Career Fair

Almost 150

Sep 20
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

Birthdays can be feted for just about anything, and a milestone is just around the corner for the University of Illinois. Next year, on February 28, 2017, the celebration will begin, marking the first 150 years of the University’s saga and looking forward to the next many years. That idea is etched in stone on Davenport Hall, formerly known as the Agriculture Building on the main quad, where it reads, “Industrial education prepares the way for a millennium of labor – Turner”.

The theme for the sesquicentennial year is “Shaping the Future Since 1867.” Over the course of 15 months, gala events will transpire, books will be published, banners will wave, new construction projects will rise, and funds will be raised. At the heart of this particular anniversary celebration, stories will be told – stories that remember and stories that inspire. Those of us in the College of ACES know that this college and its direct predecessors have been a central part of the University of Illinois story from the very beginning. And we also know that this college will shape much of the University’s story and the landscape of Illinois long into the future.

So, we are inviting people to share their Illinois stories with us, especially those that involve ACES, U of I Extension, 4-H, or any of the allied programs and institutions that have come before or exist today. Among those contributions will be kernels of inspiration for young people, students, scientists, and citizens that we can use to illustrate the scope of impact that the University of Illinois and ACES has on the lives of people in Illinois and around the world. So start thinking about your Illinois story, and how your life, your community, or your profession has been changed as a result. You can already start to contribute ideas to the main campus website, http://150.illinois.edu/, and the College of ACES will soon be reaching out for stories of all kinds. So be thinking and be watching as we gear up for 150 candles!

150 Years of Illinois

Busy Student, Happy Student

Sep 19
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

For the first time in my life I can say that I’m the parent of a college student. I’ve seen other parents go through this countless times, and I get to see the student side of it every year. But this year I found myself wondering how my daughter would adjust to college life. Would she like it? Would she be homesick, or would she even think about us at all?

It turns out her experience so far has reinforced what I have observed throughout many years of working on a college campus: a busy student is a happy student! Or at least, a busy student doesn’t have time to be unhappy. I’ve always told incoming students to make sure they get involved in something as soon as they set foot on campus. Not too involved; they don’t want to be overloaded with activities while they’re trying to adjust to college life. But involved in something; something they can be a part of, something that will allow them to meet people; something they enjoy that will energize them. If you know a new college student, encourage them get involved. Why spend time moping in a dorm room when there’s a campus full of people to meet and things to do!

I think we can all learn something from this. We all need activities in our lives that give us energy and make us feel like we’re part of something. Yes, perhaps being busy makes time pass too quickly, but it also is what helps us make an impact on the world around us, and let the world impact us!

In case you’re wondering, my daughter found her niche in music, which is her major and her major activity. Before she even started classes she spent a week in band camp meeting other students and having a great time. And being involved in band has made her more aware of other opportunities. She has two very proud parents, even though we’re not missed nearly as much as we might like! She’s finding her way in life, and as a parent, that is one of the most fulfilling feelings I’ve ever had.

Dean Emmert's Daughter

People and experiences make life richer

Sep 14
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

I am reminded time and time again that much of what makes the College of ACES unique is our people! Over the past week, I have witnessed multiple examples of how people and the experiences we share are what make life richer!

On Friday afternoon, three students studying agricultural and consumer economics shared some of their student experience with a group of alumni, donors and friends of the college. All three students benefited from experiential learning, individual advising and professional development opportunities made possible by gifts to the ACE Student Advising and Enrichment Center fund. One donor noted how hearing their stories motivates her to continue to give and encourage others to do the same. The entire celebration was about people and their shared experiences - donors creating experiences for current and future students; advisors informing students of opportunities; and students embracing those experiences and sharing their gratitude with those who made it possible.

The Salute to Agriculture tent party was the venue for my very own reflection on life experiences and the people with whom we share them. From across the tent, I spotted a friend with whom I shared many 4-H experiences. A quick hug and a few minutes of conversation provided personal gratitude for a youth program that brought so many people and experiences in to my life! 4-H is people, experiences, the College of ACES and so much more!

Indeed, the people with whom we share experiences in the College of ACES create part of the tapestry of our lives!

Jenna Davis (left) and Adam Kurczewski (right), students in ACE thank Tom and Bev Frey for their support of the ACE Student Advising and Enrichment Center fund.

Chat with us

Sep 13
Paul Davidson, Assistant Professor, Technical Systems Management

Did you know that hundreds of millions of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus are lost from Illinois farm fields every year and travel down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico? These nutrients, which are necessary to grow crops, are associated with problems like excessive algae growth in receiving waters. These nutrient losses have resulted in the development of state nutrient loss reduction strategies by the twelve states that drain the most water into the Mississippi River. Illinois contributes more nitrogen and phosphorus downstream than any other state, which means we have the most opportunity to improve through our implementation of better farming and management practices.

As part of the University of Illinois “Water Team” dealing with nutrient losses, my role is to conduct scientific research on how water and nutrients move through agricultural fields and how practices can be implemented to effectively reduce the amount of nutrients leaving the field. I then help get these research findings into the hands of those that can put them to use. Farmers, agribusinesses, commodity groups, conservation staff, and research and extension personnel all play a role in helping farmers maintain effective farming operations, while reducing the nutrient losses into surface water systems.

Good stewardship of our natural resources is good business and good policy; conservation, and productive, thriving farms go hand in hand. If you want to learn more, join our chat on Twitter from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27. We want to hear your questions - use #askACES during that hour on Sept. 27 on Twitter to get in on the conversation or watch it unfold here. Talk to you soon!

algae in water

An aha moment

Sep 12
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

I recently visited one of our Ag Ed alumni who is now teaching full-time in a high school agriculture program. The classroom environment was colorful and organized, and the list of student expectations was neatly displayed on the wall. There were only ten expectations, but it was #10 that drew my attention.

Expectation #10: “Bring the best version of yourself to class each and every day.”

Whoa. [Insert aha moment.]

If my former college student and these high school students can do this, am I following this important life rule?
-Do I bring the best version of myself every day?
-Do I bring the best version of myself to the classroom and workplace every day?
-Do I give the best version of myself to my family, friends, colleagues, and students every day?

As we enter the heart of the semester when assignments and other responsibilities start to pile up, unexpected circumstances and opportunities will potentially lure us away from giving the best version of ourselves toward our classroom, work, and life responsibilities. Some decisions will be challenging and motivation will begin to wane, but ask yourself every day –

Am I bringing the best version of myself today?

Best version of yourself

So Long, Summer

Sep 7
Stephanie Henry, ACES Media Specialist

When my sons were younger—they are 16 and almost 13 now—September would mark the end of summer days spent at the swimming pool or playing at the park. Maybe taking an escape to a beach for a week. Now that they are older and busier, summer and fall family time looks a bit different.

In my job as a news writer for ACES, I get to talk to researchers about a huge variety of interesting research topics. One story I worked on this summer actually hit close to home for me. Researchers in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies are looking at the effect that spending time in nature together as a family has on how well families function. Research has shown that getting out in nature by yourself can restore your attention, so maybe spending time together outside with your family on a regular basis can help everyone get along better? Communicate better? Listen better?

So I focused on spending good time outside with my sons this summer. It’s amazing how much a teenager will talk to you as you walk side by side with him! Some of the walks in the park were, I confess, Pokemon Go sessions, but we were together, spending time outside.

And it doesn’t have to end in the fall. We already have some weekend hikes planned. Whether you’re a high school or college student, or the parent of one, getting out in nature together is a great way to stay connected to each other. 

Read more about families and nature in the latest edition of ACES@Illinois.

Allerton Park

It’s Time

Sep 2
Brianna Gregg, ACES Coordinator of Transfer Recruitment

It’s time to study for the first quiz and it’s time to cheer on the home team. It’s time to say goodbye to the summer sun and it’s time to plan how you are going to ask that girl (or guy) to the dance. It’s time to pull out the hoodies and jeans AND IT’S TIME TO APPLY TO ACES!

Fall is my favorite time of year not only because of pumpkin-flavored everything, but because the cycle is starting again. We are excited to get to know the current HS seniors and how ACES can help them achieve their life goals. So be sure to apply before November 1 to get your application decision on December 9th. We look forward to reading about your motivation to complete a degree in ACES!


Illinois Pumpkin