Show us your 4-H green

Mar 23
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

There’s a new campaign to grow 4-H membership to 10 million kids by 2025. Grow True Leaders also aims to collect the names of 1 million 4-H alumni. Can we count on you?

Whether your 4-H experience was speaking to legislators, whipping up a nutritious meal, leading your 4-H club meeting, spending summers at the county fair, or teaching STEM experiences, we want to hear your story so it inspires the next generation of True Leaders.

Here’s all it takes:

Step 1: Go to and register as an Illinois 4-H alum.

Step 2: Any time you want to show others what 4-H has done for you, use the hashtag #thats4H. That’s Illinois’ exclusive tag for everything we do.

Step 3: All year long (but especially April 10-17), use all your social media platforms to give “shout outs” to your friends who are examples of True Leaders. Be sure to use both the #TrueLeaders and the #thats4H hashtags. If you’re okay with it, use geolocation to show you’re part of the Illinois team! Need ideas? Your shout out may read “#TrueLeaders like @Kaity teach showring etiquette to today’s #4H members. #thats4H”

Step 4: Watch April 12 for an announcement by 4-H spokesman Jennifer Nettles during the National 4-H Youth Rally in Washington D.C.

Step 5: Follow @Illinois4H on Facebook and Twitter.

Step 6: Help us tell the 4-H story by telling your story at

4H Girl Painting

4H Boy

4H Stem person


ACES 101: Generosity

Mar 15
Kendall Herren, Senior in Agricultural Communications

If there’s one class students in the College of ACES don’t need to take, it’s a class on generosity. ACES students are top-notch at helping those around them. For example, throughout the past two years, our students have gone above and beyond with the I Pay it Forward campaign raising more than $20,000 in scholarships for their peers.

And this week is no different as ACES students live out their generosity. Today, students can register as a bone marrow donor in memory of former crop sciences student, Jon Hustedt, at the ACES Library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or the Illini Union, Room 104, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Jon was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria. After battling his disease for two years, Jon had a match on the bone marrow donor registry, and received a bone marrow transplant in June of 2015. Unfortunately, a month after the transplant, Jon was diagnosed with Graft Versus Host Disease where the donor white blood cells began attacking the rest of Jon’s body. Jon passed away on August 29, 2015, at the age of 23 from this unforeseen complication of the transplant. The Field & Furrow Club is hosting this event today in honor of their former classmate.

Tonight, FarmHouse Fraternity is helping community members affected by cancer, including their house cook Jenny Goin’s husband. The fraternity is hosting an All-You-Can-Eat Taco Benefit Dinner to help support this family, including Jenny’s three young children. The event is from 5 to 8 p.m. at FarmHouse Fraternity.

Join in and help make a difference today!

Be the one to save a life

Mar 10
Amber Adams, Crop Sciences Marketing

As president of the Field and Furrow Club, Kris Heller is always looking for volunteer opportunities for members. Last fall, Kris learned of an opportunity that hit close to home and knew the club had to get involved. Field and Furrow has collaborated with Be The Match On Campus, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness about bone cancer, to sponsor a bone marrow registry drive in memory of fellow crop sciences student Jon Hustedt. Jon passed away from complications of a bone marrow transplant – a situation Jon’s parents believe could have ended differently. Read Jon’s story below. 

In the summer of 2013, Jon Hustedt began his Junior year in the College of ACES with aspirations of becoming a plant breeder when he went in for a routine physical. Jon mentioned to his doctor that he had been easily bruising and blood work later revealed he had Aplastic Anemia and Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria. Jon immediately began immunosuppressive drug therapy.

In April of 2015, Jon’s condition evolved into Myelodysplastic Syndrome (pre-leukemia) a fatal disease if left untreated. Jon’s treatment team decided he needed a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible.

In June of 2015, Jon received a bone marrow transplant from a donor – the single match in a registry of nearly 24.5 million donors. Initially, Jon seemed to be on the road to recovery. The donor’s cells had become Jon’s cells, which meant Jon was on his way to healing. Unfortunately, things took a turn when the donor’s white cells started attacking Jon’s body. On August 29, 2015 Jon passed away from Graft Versus Host Disease.

Jon’s family feels that he may have had a better outcome if there had been more than one match in the registry. Research shows the younger the donor, the better the outcome for the patient.

Joining the Be The Match bone marrow registry involves a simple cheek swab. To learn more about the bone marrow registration and donation process visit or sign-up to attend event here. You could be the one to save a life.

Be the Match flyer

Now's your chance...

Mar 8
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

“Oh, so you want to be a vet?” The most frequently asked question I get when I say I’m an animal sciences major. This is followed shortly by, “Wait, so have you stuck your hand in a cow’s stomach?” Before I attended Explore ACES, the summer before my freshman year at the University of Illinois, my answers to these questions were very different.

Explore ACES is this weekend, March 11-12, and it is an ACES-filled day for prospective and admitted students. This event allows students to check out all the opportunities that are available to them in the College of ACES. There are interactive exhibits and mini-classes put on by each major in the college, and organizations and offices have displays, dispersed throughout the ACES campus, with tons of information.

As an admitted animal sciences student, I explored my major at the Stock Pavilion, where I stuck my hand in a cow and then forced my dad to also stick his hand in a cow (hahaha). This experience along with many others, like speaking with faculty members, learning about the different RSOs, and touring the beef farm, changed my perspective on what my major had to offer. I had always wanted to be a vet, but when I saw all these new possibilities that intrigued and excited me, I knew there was much more to my major than I had originally thought.

Although the main audience of Explore ACES is prospective students, its displays and exhibits are open to the public. So, if you missed out on quad day or you’re hitting the weird quarter-life crisis where you think you’ve chosen the wrong major and have no idea what to do, take a deep breath and keep your eyes open this weekend for the Explore ACES events or check out the website. I’m grateful to be a part of a college that has so many opportunities for its students to explore and grow and learn.

Plus, if you haven’t stuck your hand in a cow, now’s your chance.  

Explore ACES
Students visit an agricultural and biological engineering display during Explore ACES.

Opportunity of a lifetime

Mar 3
Kendall Herren, Senior in Agricultural Communications

We talk about opportunities in ACES a lot. The hands-on, real-world experiences. Well last night I got the opportunity of a lifetime. I had the chance to watch the greatest miracle on Earth: a new life being born.

This semester I’m in the ANSC 199 class, also known as Foal Watch. You work six different shifts: three shifts from 6 p.m. to midnight, and three from midnight to 6 a.m. I won’t lie. The midnight to 6 a.m. shifts aren’t always the most fun.

But after last night, I don’t really care. Because I got to watch a mare foal the cutest brown and white faced filly! And I watched her take her first steps within an hour!

It was the coolest thing as some veterinarians came in and threw on some gloves and started helping her push. My friend Siera had to hop in the stall and hold the mare as she was pushing so the vets could help pull the foal out. It all happened so quick that it was hard to think about what was happening, you just wanted to yell push and have the baby fall out!

As soon as the foal hit the ground, the vets instantly started drying her off with towels and cleaning her up. They checked the sex and cleaned up where the umbilical cord was connected.

And then we all kind of just stood there in awe. We watched as the foal started moving around and tried to get up. I’ll admit, I was just kind of awestruck with the whole thing.

I watched for a good half hour as she tried standing up, and finally she did! It was so funny to watch her wobble and then fall back down.

Overall, this might be the highlight of my college career. How cool is it that I got to watch a horse give live birth?! And I was able to help! (Maybe just by handing towels to the vets and opening a bag that had blood on it. But I got my blood on my hands, so that means I really contributed, right?!)

Foal watch

Advancing sustainability – on campus and abroad!

Feb 29
Amber Adams, Crop Sciences Marketing

From Asia to Africa, the College of ACES is dedicated to helping students fund study abroad tours. No matter the length of study (a few weeks or an entire semester), the experience is one that can’t be taught on campus. Danielle McCormick, a freshman in Crop Sciences recently shared her winter break study abroad experience with me. I wish I could transport you to the gorgeous beaches of the Bahamas to relive Danielle’s experience. Unfortunately, you’ll have to settle for reading about it below – or start planning your study abroad journey here!

“Sustainability seems like a simple topic, but in reality there are many different facets that are all interconnected. During the study abroad course, ACES 298, I traveled to Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas to learn how sustainability practices are applied in real-world situations abroad. This course was a unique experience for several reasons. In the classroom setting, I was able to learn about sustainability and understand the material, but abroad I experienced first-hand how these concepts are used to make the world a better place.

During the trip, our group met with researchers actively working to advance sustainability practices in the Caribbean. We had the opportunity to assist them on their research projects, which involved tagging bonefish, an economically important fish to the Bahamas. This included: catching bonefish, tagging them, and then releasing them back into the ocean; allowing researchers to track bonefish breeding habits. Researchers then collected behavior and location data to determine where and how to protect breeding grounds for bonefish.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about the many facets of sustainability, but also to observe how researchers are utilizing these practices. Actively participating in sustainability research was truly inspiring, and showed me that it is possible to implement the change I want to help make in the world. ACES 298 provided the knowledge and inspiration to further my dream of bringing a source of food to those who have none. The possibility of gifting people with sustainable food production methods is as revolutionary as it is miraculous.”

Danielle McCormick in the Bahamas with Crop Sciences

The Green and White Network

Feb 25
Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director

I have had the opportunity to spend this week in beautiful, warm Tucson for the 2016 National 4-H Leadership Meeting. State 4-H Program Leaders and 4-H Foundation Executive Directors are in attendance. 47 states are represented. Over 150 individuals. The passion for 4-H is overflowing!  These are people that bleed green and white.

None of us are structured the same, offer the exact same programs, raise gifts in the same fashion, or offer the same amount of programmatic support back to our state 4-H  programs, but we all DO believe in the same mission: Learning By Doing. We are all excited by the growth of 4-H and the new and innovative programs offered, but we realize that our greatest failure would be to stay the same! We are constantly challenging why we are doing what do, how we are executing it, and if we are meeting the identified issues of youth nationally at the same time that we are addressing our statewide concerns.

We have identified what we see as priorities for 4-H nationally that we ALL have a role in helping to move forward.
·    Inclusivity
·    Developing Staff
·    Volunteer Development
·    Positional and Branding
·    Alignment and Unity

While in addition to discussion around the above five points, there have been valuable sessions around donor retention, sponsorships, and 4-H branding and marketing. Some of my most valued time is spent networking with other state 4-H Foundations, whether they “look” just like Illinois or not. So many new ideas and best practices are gained over breakfast, breaks or dinner. There has not been a year where I haven’t left reenergized and feeling proud about Illinois 4-H and the Illinois 4-H Foundation, while also realizing there is always room to do better.  After all, shouldn’t we alI continue to make sure we are “learning by doing!"

Barnard Conference

You can do that here!

Feb 24
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

While participating in a career fair event a few years ago, I initiated what I deemed the “You can do that in ACES” game. High school students shared what they were interested in doing for a career and challenged me to explain how they could pursue that aspiration through the College of ACES. Because ACES offers such a broad spectrum of fields and concentrations of study, there were very few instances in which they stumped me.

Some careers, such as veterinarian, dietitian, family therapist, or crop seed sales representative, may have been softballs but others may not seem as obvious. Here’s a few examples of ways that “You can do that in ACES”.

Medical doctor – Consider an undergraduate degree in animal sciences or human nutrition as a strong scientific base for medical graduate programs.

Lawyer – Agricultural and Consumer Economics offers a concentration in Public Policy and Law, but several other departments and concentrations can also be a pathway to law school.

Television personality – Agricultural communications, a joint program with the College of Media, prepares students for careers in varied media. However, students in hospitality management may also find themselves in front of a television camera preparing the latest trendy dish!

Museum curator – Subject matter experts are consulted in venues ranging from city museums to botanical gardens. Graduates from Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Animal Sciences, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Food Science and Human Nutrition may also find themselves in these roles.

The list goes on. If you are a high school or community college student seeking a plethora of career options, explore the College of ACES! Contact the College of ACES Office of Academic Programs!

I think it’s time to expand the game in to research partnerships, employee recruitment, and philanthropy!

Is your business or organization in need of a subject-matter expert to consult with? Do you need to expand your team beyond the capacity of your research and development team? You can do that in ACES! Contact the ACES Office of Research.

Do you need to hire someone with a specific skill set and knowledge base? You can do that in ACES! Contact the College of ACES Career Services.

Do you desire to invest your personal or corporate finances to impact young people, support ground-breaking research, or create accessibility to projects, programs and opportunities beyond the classroom? You can do that in ACES! Contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement.

Board Game of ACES

Chips, anyone?

Feb 17
Rick Atterberry, ACES Media Communications Specialist

My wife the Anglophile sent me a link from The Daily Mail this morning concerning potato chip research here in the College of ACES. The piece quoted a study published in the Journal of Food Science which was then picked up by Popular Science. It focused on the work of Tanjila Alam and Pawan Takhar of our college. It is serious and highly technical research designed to identify the factors that make for a better tasting chip, or as they would say in Daily Mail territory, a better crisp. Snack foods are, after all, a multi-billion dollar industry.

The article was a reminder of the breadth of experimentation conducted in our college on a myriad of topics. Frequently in the daily Illinois in the News digest produced by the U of I News Bureau, there are links to articles from all over the world reporting on the research being done just down the hall on the ACES campus.

Because of our familiarity we may take the work being done here for granted, but others clearly find it important, interesting and, often, groundbreaking. The College of ACES is an exciting place to call home. 

Now, is anyone working on a better tasting low-calorie dip?

It’s Just a Jacket

Feb 16
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

To some, it’s just a jacket. Blue corduroy with yellow stitching. Expensive and uncomfortable.

To me, the jacket symbolized family. My introduction to FFA was rooted in my older brothers’ experiences. I rarely understood what they were doing or where they were going, but I knew it was important. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, even though I didn’t understand why. My family was (and is) the most important part of my life. If FFA was important to them, it was important to me.

To me, the jacket symbolized opportunity. Through successes and failures, regardless of the situation or circumstances, my FFA roots grew deeper through each experience. I am forever thankful for supportive parents and an encouraging agriculture teacher who challenged me to try things, do things, and go places I never imagined possible. They nurtured my FFA roots and helped me grow.

To me, the jacket symbolized identity. It was a shield of courage and protection. In my jacket, I felt empowered to do anything and be the person I always hoped I could become.

To me, the jacket symbolized a career. A career as a high school agriculture education teacher where I hope I instilled a love for FFA and agriculture in my students. Even though my career path didn’t always follow the most direct route and my roles in agricultural education have changed through the years, the FFA has been a part of my life and career for over 20 years.

To current and former FFA members, it’s much more than just a jacket. Even though we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, we all share in the impact FFA had on our lives. We are all believers in a youth organization that is more than just a jacket; instead, the jacket symbolizes life-changing opportunities planted in our #FFAroots.

FFA Jackets