Making Bacon

Aug 29
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

Many of you explored new job opportunities, worked at internships, traveled the world, or spent time with your family on summer break. I spent most of mine making bacon. I was able to get the opportunity to work at the Meat Science Lab on campus and it made my hot summer, a rather cool one.

All the meat in our facility is sourced from the University of Illinois research farms. Slaughtering takes place on Tuesday mornings and the rest of the week is spent cutting meat into retail cuts, making sausages, bacon, jerky, hams and opening our doors for sales. My favorite part of this summer has been working the sales counter. People from all over the community, employees of the University of Illinois, and many students frequent the Meat Sales Lab buying things like beef bones, liver, ribeye’s, pork chops, and flats of eggs. When people ask me what to buy I always tell them to get the pulled pork (seriously, you need to try it). The reason I went into animal science was to be a part of the process of getting quality food to people’s tables. Helping families pick out what their dinner is going to be that week or explaining to them what a chuck roast is and why they should try it is a very satisfying part of this job. Family dinners are something I really miss, going into my senior year at the U of I, and being a tiny part of some of your meals is so enjoyable.

If you’ve never been, stop in and say hello (1503 S. Maryland Dr. Urbana, IL 61801) and we’ll be happy to help you find what you’re looking for, which is probably bacon.

Making bacon

Make campus feel like home

Aug 24
Brianna Gregg, ACES Coordinator of Transfer Recruitment

Now that you’ve settled into your rooms, it is time to start making Champaign-Urbana feel like home. For me, that is finding the quintessential sweet shop. I grew up working at both an Oberweiss and a Dairy Queen, so I fancy myself a bit of an ice cream expert. You won’t find Oberweiss here, but you will see a few Dairy Queens, lots of frozen yogurt shops (an insult to the creamy deliciousness of ice cream) and a few local shops. The closest local one is probably Custard Cup/Jarlings. This is great if you want a short walk from campus. Another great option is the Sydney Dairy Barn. It is a little further out, but worth the drive!

The downfall with these locations is that they close during the cold months of the year, which seem to be coming faster and staying longer. LUCKILY there is another great option right here on campus! Bevier Café has some of the BEST cookies around. So if you are looking for a go-to-study-spot or just a place to grab a sweet treat after taking that exam, Bevier Café is worth checking out!

And yes, this is an actual picture of their cookies- commence mouthwatering.

Bevier Cookies

August Flurry

Aug 23
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

Every year, come mid-August, things really start to pick up steam in ACES and all over campus.  A couple of weeks ago, the campus was quiet and idyllic, with nary a student to be seen and lots of folks taking those last vacation days before the start of the new academic year.  This year is no exception, and the campus is now abuzz with activity.

The run-up to the new year in ACES is ushered in with annual rituals, like the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and Agronomy Day on the South Farms. Both events concluded the week before classes began. The rain-soaked fairgrounds hosted lots of the annual competitions and activities for 4-H and FFA youth. A highlight is always the Sale of Champions where the proceeds support not only the owners of the champion animals and commodities, but also provide generous support to the 4-H and FFA programs that benefit young leaders across the state of Illinois. This year for example, our own Illini Miller family was represented with the Land of Lincoln Champion Steer, shown by Adam Miller and purchased by our long-time benefactor, Evelyn Brandt. Dean Hauser and other leaders in the College of ACES, who turned out in force for Agriculture Day at the fair, also came away from the Sale of Champions as the winning bidders for the champion Colby cheese. Ag Day is a celebration of agriculture in Illinois, drawing together leaders from the organizations and businesses that make the industry the true gem that it is in Illinois. Being an election year also, the day also attracts the interest of our legislative leaders, especially the members of Congress who serve on the agriculture committees and represent districts with significant agricultural interests. Already, the members are keen to interact with constituents in preparation for another round of federal agricultural policy legislation, aka the “Farm Bill”.

Two days later, the Department of Crop Sciences held their annual Agronomy Day on the South Farms. The rains held off for a glorious day at the new location on South First Street.  By all accounts, the field tours and other talks were well attended. The day was capped by a rousing talk from our new Illini Athletic Director, Josh Whitman.  His motto – “We will win!”  That was also move-in day for the residence halls on campus, so needless to say traffic was organized chaos.

So the flurry of activity continues – new and returning students were welcomed, Quad Day was a big draw, and instructors have introduced their classes to the expectations of a new semester, as the tail end of August is the advent of a new and exciting academic year.

Adam Miller
Adam Miller showed the Illinois State Fair Land of Lincoln Champion Steer purchased by our long-time benefactor, Evelyn Brandt.

Share your Illinois story

Aug 17
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

The streets, sidewalks and hallways on campus are starting to become a bit busier this week. With classes starting Monday, I can’t help but reminisce about my freshman move-in day, the jam-packed Quad-day or feeling like a herd of something on our way to freshman convocation. I’m more than a little tempted to dig through old photos, unearth some Illini mementos and pretend it wasn’t that long ago when I was an excited, nervous freshman in the College of ACES.

Now is actually a great time for all Illini to dig in to their memory books and share their favorite stories from time on campus. As part of the UI sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years) celebration in 2017, the University of Illinois Alumni Association plans to open a new Welcome Center. The Center will feature interactive exhibits that will present the history of the University from the perspectives of its students and alumni.  It will serve as a destination for returning alumni and the University and local communities, as well as a gateway for campus visitors, including prospective students and their parents. 

At this stage of the project, the UI Alumni Association is collecting materials for the exhibits. Yes, we have amazing University archives and many campus units have preserved much of their own history. However, they also want our alumni and students to share their personal stories. They are particularly interested in photographs that alumni took in college and objects used as students—anything that would be emblematic of what it has meant to be a student at the University, and that would cause a moment of recognition, reminiscence, or nostalgia for others. They hope to capture how the student experience has changed during the University’s first 150 years and how, in some ways, it has stayed the same.  They are also looking for scans of diplomas for inclusion in a giant mobile that will be the centerpiece of the Welcome Center.

Those interested in providing materials for the Welcome Center or learning more about the project are asked to contact the College of ACES at 217-333-9355 or

UIAA Welcome Center

UIAA Welcome Center 2nd Floor



Aug 8
Brianna Gregg, ACES Coordinator of Transfer Recruitment either love or loathe them. I personally have a love/hate relationship with lists. They tell me how much I’ve accomplished or remind me how much I have left to complete. Some lists are fun- including the list you make when moving to campus for the year!  Below are some items I would encourage you to include that you may not find on a standard housing website.

  • A Frisbee – what better way to meet new people than to throw a Frisbee on the quad
  • Duct tape—a great way to fix things (always check with floor advisor before use)
  • Water Bottle—stay hydrated, the path ahead has many inclines and has potential rocky terrain
  • Sun Block—the first Illini football game can be pretty toasty
  • Microwave Popcorn—just be sure to mind the time, burnt popcorn smell is hard to eliminate
  • Deck of Cards- lots of games to play and meet people with (I’m always up for a game of euchre!)
  • UMBRELLA—just carry it with you everywhere- the weather here is temperamental

There are lots of other items to bring, but this might help you complete the packing list.

Welcome back Illini! We’ve missed you!

Duct tape

20 years of giving

Jul 5
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Guest blog from Chad Vogel, Associate Dean of Development

This week the College of ACES is saying “Best Wishes” to a very familiar member of our family. Barry Dickerson joined the College of ACES Office of Advancement in 1996 and has been making a lasting impact on students, faculty, staff and the entire ACES family for the past two decades.

Many have come to easily recognize Barry as a professional representative of the College of ACES. From his work with individual supporters of the College of ACES to his more recent role in corporate relations, he has worked diligently to ensure that the most pressing needs of the College and even the people of Illinois were met. Barry has not always been one to stand in the lime-light, but for years he has served as a steady link in the background working on details of millions of dollars in gifts, grants and contracts that manifest in to the reality of what people see publicly.

Barry won’t be going far! He will be heading back to where he earned his undergraduate degree in the University of Illinois College of Business to serve as the Senior Director of Corporate Relations. Although he may not be sitting in Mumford Hall anymore, he’ll always be a part of our ACES family.

Work Begins on FSHN Pilot Processing Plant Renovation

Jun 27
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

The following post has been contributed by Brian Jacobson, Food Science Pilot Plant Manager.

This summer in the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building the sound of students headed to class has been replaced with that of construction equipment.

Construction has begun to update the FSHN Pilot Processing Plant, a ~$2.5M renovation that will include enhancements to the teaching, research, and outreach missions of the facility.  Equipment operation and food safety guidelines have changed rapidly in the past several years, making updates necessary to ensure the facility continues to meet the needs of training students and producing human consumable food. 

Upgrades will include a new HVAC system, food processing suites for separating incompatible products, a commercial kitchen for product development work, and an upgraded analytical laboratory.  Construction is expected to be complete in time for the Spring 2017 semester.  Naming opportunities are still available for private and corporate donors.

For more information, visit  Please direct any questions to Brian Jacobson (Pilot Plant Manager) at

Let generosity guide your walk

Jun 24
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

Nearly 70 years ago, a young woman walked the same paths you now walk on this beautiful campus. No doubt, even she didn’t know then what an influence she would later become to generations of young people attending University of Illinois or young 4-H members.

This fall, Lila Jeanne Eichelberger will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame Class of 2016 at a ceremony in Chevy Chase Md. Known around campus as “Shorty” because of her small 5-foot frame, Eichelberger stands as a giant among her peers for her philanthropic efforts to support 4-H and the university.

A woman of remarkable grace, Lila Jeanne tirelessly campaigns with her time, energy, and financial resources to the advancement of Illinois 4-H, 4-H Memorial Camp, 4-H House, University of Illinois, and Illini Sports. She is a member-emeritus of the Illinois 4-H Foundation Board of Directors. 

Generosity is one of the four pillars on which 4-H stands, along with creating a community of belonging, providing opportunities for youth to gain independence, and enhancing learning so young people master the life skills they need for successful careers. Lila Jeanne learned her lesson well.

She has made financial gifts to U of I and Illinois 4-H every year for 50 years. In total, her giving to 4-H alone exceeds $2 million. In 2000, she created an endowment to honor her late mother, a 50-year 4-H leader. Today, she continues to add value with an estate commitment which will endow the Margarette E. Athey 4-H Adult Volunteer Leader Development Fund at over one quarter-million dollars.

More than that, people simple adore Lila Jeanne for who she is. Says Curt Sinclair, 4-H Memorial Camp director and beneficiary of many recent Eichelberger gifts, “The instant you meet Lila Jeanne Eichelberger, your personal definition of ‘genuineness’ is shattered and the bar is raised higher than you had it before.

“Nothing in the mile-long list of her accomplishments is self-serving,” he says. “My personal experience with her is entwined by our common belief in the incredible power 4-H camping programs can have in the lives of young people, both campers and counselors. Her purely genuine spirit of the 4-H pledge; that of head, heart, hands, and health, mentor us all.”    

Eichelberger credits 4-H with shaping her career choices and leading her to U of I where she received two degrees and an advanced certificate. She taught home economics for 40 years. She married the late Paul Eichelberger. "Paul was the love of my life; we shared so many interests - one key one being Fighting Illini sports," she said. "Neither of us would be the person we became if it had not been for sports, 4-H or the University of Illinois."

When you imagine your future self, will generosity be the thing you are known for? It starts the moment you look past your own needs to the needs of those around you, in your club, your community, your country and your world.

Lila Jeanne, pictured here with Curt Sinclair, has made significant contributions to the 4-H Memorial Camp near Monticello. A new visual arts craft center will be built in the fall near the lake.

The Illinois 4-H State 4-H Office and Illinois 4-H Foundation staff met recently at 4-H Memorial Camp to thank Lila Jeanne Eichelberger for her generous donation to the 4-H camping program. The staff stand on the future location of the new creative arts building which will be built through Eichelberger’s generous donation to the Illinois 4-H Foundation.


Real-WORLD Learning

Jun 6
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

I feel fortunate to have a career which provides me the opportunity to prepare future teachers and leaders for the agriculture industry. In addition to planning curriculum and designing instructional strategies to best meet the needs of students and adults, I find myself frequently discussing the value of real-world learning. My personal definitions of real-world learning – Teach people how to apply textbook knowledge in real-world applications. Teach people how to use the information they have learned in the classroom in the real world. Teach people how to use their resources to solve problems in the real world.

I developed a new definition of real-world learning during a recent study abroad experience. Organized by Dr. David Rosch, Assistant Professor in Agricultural Leadership Education, I had the chance to travel to Italy with 16 Agricultural Education students. I saw students experience real WORLD learning.

Students’ views of the world were expanded as they saw firsthand some of the greatest and most widely recognized historical sites and works of art. The Colosseum. Trevi Fountain. The Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. Michelangelo’s David sculpture and his painting of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museum. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Pictures and stories from their elementary textbooks were brought to life.

In addition to the sights and sounds of Italy, I saw real WORLD learning occur as a result of spending several days with a select group of people. I watched the dynamics of the group unfold during the multiple day study abroad experience. Students who may not have known each other prior to the trip bonded together based on common interests. Values like trust, care, and concern for others developed when faced with the challenges of a new country, new city, new language, and new culture. Friendships evolved and changed. Experiences were shared. Memories were made.

Real-world learning happens every day – in a variety of locations and with people we perhaps never anticipated meeting. Students interacted with their global neighbors, immersed themselves in the culture over food and conversation, and enhanced their understanding of different worldviews through this experience.

Four Things I've Learned in Four Days

May 31
Paige Jones, Junior in Agricultural Communications

As the summer heats up and the stress of the end of the year cools down, campus has become pretty quiet with students leaving for their summer adventures. Some students left for home to help on the farm, some left to learn and work in foreign countries, and some, like me, have started their summer internships.

In my first week as the College of ACES Communications and Marketing intern, I have already started gaining experience in writing, alumni relations, and social media management, which are all major components of this job. However, I think the most important thing I’ve learned is something that is applicable in any job: how to be a good employee. My boss may read this and think, “Does she know the definition of good?”, and you might read this and think, “What does an intern know about being a good employee on her fourth day?” I’ve always thought there is something to be said about the opinions of a newbie with a fresh outlook on a situation. So I now present to you… Everything You Need to Know about Being a Good Employee. Disclaimer: It’s only my fourth day so there is actually a little more that you really need to know.

1.    Be professional.
Everyone seems to hate hearing the word “professionalism” because we associate it with dressing up in clothes that aren’t comfortable and pretending to enjoy doing so. Although I think it’s important to look your best, I believe the most important aspects of professionalism are being passionate about your work, being enjoyable to work with, and being eager to learn more. A wardrobe full of business suits will not make you professional if you don’t act the part.

2.    Ask questions.
This is such a simple one, yet many of us, including me, are often too proud to say that we don’t know how to do something. You don’t look dumb because you had to ask. Asking questions does not mean you don’t know what you’re doing; it means you want to improve the quality of your work. Asking the right questions will get you much further than asking none.

3.    Show up.
Showing up isn’t simply being present at work. My hometown’s basketball team lives by the saying “All In.” When you show up to work, be all in. Your best work surfaces when you are dedicated to what you are doing. Being all in means you are not above any job or task because you are committed to seeing your company or organization succeed and will complete any assignment, no matter how big or small, to make that happen.

4.    Be kind.
This is absolutely the most important tip I have for you. Saying please, thank you, or good job or greeting someone with a smile and a “hey, how are you?” can turn someone’s day around. A positive work environment will improve your quality of work as well as the quality of work of those around you. Be someone that people are happy to see and truly enjoy working with.


These four things I’ve learned in four days as an intern are objectives that all employees and employers should actively be doing not only in the workplace, but in life in general. Being professional and passionate, asking questions, showing up and being dedicated, and being kind shows the world the best version of you. So whether you’re starting your internship, wandering the streets of Italy, or helping your dad work cattle, try trusting the advice from this intern. It hasn’t steered me wrong… yet.