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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

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.