Blogging about blogs

Sep 18
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

To me, blogs are like Pringles; once you pop, you can’t stop! That is, if you are avid reader of Voice of ACES, you’re likely reading plenty of other blogs out on the web too. So, I wanted to share with you a few other blogs that I think are pretty informative, entertaining, and just generally a nice way to pass time.

NRES Career Information Blog
NRES used to offer a bi-weekly Career Bulletin, which has been recently phased out in favor of the blog format. Instead of having students wait two weeks for up-to-date information on volunteer opportunities, internships, and job postings, we want to provide them with these opportunities real-time updating as soon as we get the information. The blog is public and anyone can subscribe by following the “Subscribe” button located at the bottom of the page. From a quick skim of what’s on their right now; I see information about current employment vacancies, a Forest Service webinar, and upcoming career fairs. There are different categories that you can search through to shuffle through only the information you want to see; grad school, jobs, video, research, volunteer, etc. It’s a great resource to see the current availabilities in our field and also start getting an idea of the skills and experiences that are in-demand for our industry.

University of Illinois Office of Undergraduate Admission
Casting the net a little wider, I really appreciate the content that comes from our Office of Undergraduate Admission’s blog. Similar to the Voice of ACES, they have a diverse cast of bloggers that really contribute to the breadth and scope of information being shared. They range from current students here on campus, admissions counselors, and even Sassy the Squirrel! In my official role as an Undergraduate Recruiter, the blog provides some great information and advice in terms of application deadlines, personal statements, and other pertinent information for prospective students. However, I think the most powerful content comes from the students and their experiences. There are several posts right now about “campus secrets”, finding roommates, and what it’s like to just be a student. All around, a great bog!

Smile Politely
Technically, Smile Politely is an “online magazine” – but what is a blog, really, anyway? I often get asked about what the life and culture is like living in Champaign-Urbana and Smile Politely is a great resource to view all of the great local music, art, culture, sports, and food activity going on in town. You can browse events and article based on the previously mentioned categories and there are even countless sub-categories within those. The contributors to Smile Politely are also a diverse cast of characters from undergraduate students to “fifty-somethings” which provides great content variety of a wide-range of interests. Anytime I start thinking to myself of how I’m bored and nothing is going on in town, I frequently turn to Smile Politely to see just how much is really going on and I’m missing out on!

Sassy the Squirrel


Sep 17
Kendra Courson, Director for Special Events

Salute to Ag Day has always been a special event for alumni, family and friends to reconnect and salute agriculture in the state of Illinois as well as the College of ACES. Saturday’s event was another example of connections for many people.

The Burrus Hybrids and Illinois AgriNews Farm Family of the Year was the Lamoreux Family of Carroll County. This family had several generations of College of ACES alumns present to accept the award. From folks who have farmed the family land for many decades to two newborn baby girls attending what looked to be their very first tailgate, over 20 family members were on hand to celebrate this wonderful recognition together.

Melissa Fairbanks of Lakeland, Florida, attended Salute to Ag Day with her parents, Bob and Janet Dailey of Rochester Hills, Michigan. This was a family reunion weekend as Melissa’s sister, Megan Dailey, is an Assistant Professor in Animal Sciences. This was Melissa’s first Salute to Ag Day and a memorable one to say the least. She took part in the annual auction and was the highest bidder of the Illinois State Fair prize-winning cheddar cheese block. Once the cheese arrives in Florida, Melissa plans to share with her family and, of course, have a wine and cheese party with close friends!

I could go on and on about the connections that Salute to Ag Day fosters each and every year but there are too many to choose from. I am always beyond delighted and surprised that a tailgate event of over 600 people could end up being something very personal and far reaching.

A special thanks to the generous sponsors who support this event, including the Illinois Corn Growers Association, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Soybean Association, and Premier Cooperative, Inc.

Salute to Ag Day

Don't take it for granted

Sep 16
Rick Atterberry, ACES Media Communications Specialist

The view from my office window on the South Farms is that of the Round Barns. Sometimes I take it for granted. They’re just buildings right? Historic buildings, but just buildings.

I am reminded though, when meeting with the public at events like the Farm Progress Show, that they, like the worn steps in Mumford Hall, are symbolic of the heart of this college. My favorite part of such events is talking with people who have a connection to the College of ACES…alumni, parents, grandparents, former staff and others. Some visitors ask about long retired professors, about programs, about buildings, and share their favorite stories.

Others ask about how their daughters and sons or grandchildren can possibly gain admittance to one of the premier universities in the world when they hail from high schools without advanced or AP classes. I enjoy being able to point to the Academic Programs table and tell them not to discount the possibility out of hand without checking in there. It is humbling to talk to people who understand the value of a College of ACES education and want that for their progeny.

And when prospective students or parents suggest the size of the University of Illinois is almost as large as the population of some counties, it means a lot to be able to confidently say that the university can be as large or small as the student wants to make it…that ACES is a family and there will be a place for the student to thrive.

Then I think once more of the generations who’ve had the same chance to see the Round Barns and vow not to take my view for granted.


Round Barns

A day we won't forget

Sep 14
Leslie Sweet Myrick, Office of International Programs Media Communications Specialist

Last Thursday was a glorious day for the College of ACES, International Food Security at Illinois (IFSI), and the ACES Office of International Programs as we were deeply honored to host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Students, faculty, staff, and other community members turned out in full force to listen to this distinguished guest – nearly 400 people attended and many more watched the livestream – and he in turn projected respect for each person in the room and admiration for the great work on food security being done here.

He warned us early on, “When I speak of what we’re doing [at USDA], you will be mentally checking off a list of the extraordinary work you are simultaneously doing” and recalling his morning tour of the energy farm, he said, “There’s not a citizen in this country who wouldn’t be impressed by what I walked through today.”

Vilsack’s speech was certainly informative, and I will elaborate on that in a longer article later, but it also was funny.  

After hitting multiple times in serious tones on the great issue of food waste in this country, he got a big laugh by grimacing over a memory of his wife’s leftover chicken salad and how the USDA FoodKeeper app calmed his fears about it being too old to eat.

Surprisingly to me, the lecture then turned conversational, inspirational, and even emotional.

Our office had been given a heads up that he loves Q&A and this was true. His assistant looked a bit annoyed, but not surprised, that he stayed at the podium well past his hour timeframe to take all the questions. He answered every question, even those that hit controversial topics, in a conversational tone and said that he is never afraid to say, “Yes, let’s talk about that.” and that unfortunately “Too often we don’t have conversations, we have debates.”

I expected to enjoy the lecture; I expected to learn a lot; I didn’t necessarily expect to be wiping away a tear towards the end when he admitted, even though he was adopted from an orphanage as a plump boy, that he had never known hunger. He then urged us all to think of the millions that do know hunger. He then spoke directly to the students in the room and said they have the opportunity and the responsibility to become the first generation to ensure food security in the U.S. and abroad.

By taking so many questions from student and others, he made his lecture a conversation. And I don’t doubt many a student was inspired today as a result; I know I was.


Field day fun with ag family and friends

Sep 14
Amber Adams, Crop Sciences Marketing

August is a busy time for many of us. Campus is buzzing with the arrival of new and familiar faces. The Department of Crop Sciences faculty and staff are diligently preparing for field days and the arrival of over 1,500 members of our closest ag family and friends. Many of which come from the Midwest; however, several hundred people traveled from Brazil and Argentina to learn about the latest research conducted by crop sciences faculty and researchers. There’s nothing we enjoy more than sharing our passion for agriculture with others during Agronomy Day and International Agronomy Day.

One of my favorite moments occurred at International Agronomy Day when I witnessed crop sciences department head, Dr. Germán Bollero (an Argentina native), conversing with fellow Argentinians in Spanish. The look of joy and relief when guests heard their native tongue in a foreign country was incredible to witness. Many of them stayed behind to talk to Dr. Bollero and ask him questions about their agricultural practices. Dr. Bollero’s simple act of kindness is one of the many I witness working in the College of ACES.

Agronomy Day and International Agronomy Day wouldn’t be possible without the support of sponsors and members of the ag community who traveled near and far to learn about the recent industry trends and research. Best of luck with harvest this fall and we hope to see you again soon!  

International Agronomy Day

An honor to be a part of WYXY Classic

Sep 10
Nicole Chance, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications

This summer I had the opportunity to intern for Gale Cunningham as a part of the WYXY Classic 99.1 broadcast team. For those of you that do not know Gale, you need to! Gale’s passion for the agriculture industry is a passion that is almost too hard to put into words.

His unceasing dedication to FFA and 4-H clubs is just the beginning of the many contributions he has made to the youth in both Illinois and Indiana.  Gale does not work as a radio personality, but he works as a passionate advocate for the agriculture industry. This became apparent to me when I began to observe the way Gale interviews 4-Her’s as well as other professionals within agriculture. Gale cares about each and every one of the people he interviews and his goal is to provide content that will allow listeners to be excited and encouraged about the industry they represent.

There were multiple responsibilities that Gale, Taylor Hardy, and I had throughout the summer. Some of those tasks included the fair tour where we went to different county fairs throughout the summer and interviewed 4-Hers as well as members of Extension and the fair board. We also provided hourly market reports throughout the week as well as analysis.

While I think most of the interns would say in years past that their favorite part was going to the county fairs, my favorite part was staying back in the studio doing the hourly market reports and analysis.  This was so intriguing to me. Reading and evaluating the markets made me realize how vital of a component different commodities are in the marketplace.

While also reading and analyzing the numbers from the Chicago Board of Trade, I saw how quickly commodities can shift. I can remember a specific day when the bean market shot up a whopping 60 cents after the monthly June USDA report came out. June was a bad month for east central Illinois as well as west central Indiana with tons of rain that just seemed to never stop. Those numbers on that report reflected those conditions and what happened in the marketplace at that specific time.

It was that day that I began to realize how important Gale’s job really is. It is his responsibility to inform a key region in production agriculture exactly what is happening. This could be sparks or declines in the market, issues in Washington such as the Clean Water Act, and even the grand champion barrow at the county fair. This is Gale’s job on a daily basis.

I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to intern with Gale and WYXY Classic this summer. Through this experience I have gained a deep respect and admiration for a man who is not just another radio personality, but the heart and soul of the Region’s Ag Force.

Nicole and Gail Cunningham with WYXY Classic

Finding your “Home Away From Home”

Sep 9
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

My family is on my heart and mind this week. I always enjoy my time with family, and a brief visit with my brothers and nephew this past week (who were visiting Central Illinois for the Farm Progress Show) helped ease the pain of not seeing them very often. I cherish my time with family, and am frequently reminded how much we should cherish the moments we get to spend with those we love.

I frequently hear faculty, staff, and students talk about the “ACES family”. Although the College of ACES (and our very own Agricultural Education family) can never fully replace our biological family, it’s comforting to know we are surrounded by people who are willing to provide support, lend a helping hand, and provide an encouraging word when we need it most.

Whether new or returning to campus, students are starting to settle into the routines that accompany each semester. For all students, we hope the College of ACES provides a temporary “home away from home” as they pursue their dreams and ambitions at the University of Illinois.

IL Ag Education Students


Sep 8
Kendall Herren, Senior in Agricultural Communications

I am SO sick of that word. And the disease. And the emails. And pretty much everything about it.

But, after Googling mumps and looking at photos of swollen glands, I don’t understand how people still have yet to get their shots. Mumps leads to a number of different things including meningitis, swelling of the brain, and can even cause you to go deaf.

As a 21 year old, with hopefully several decades of life ahead of me, my brain or spinal cord swelling, or the loss of my hearing is enough to get me to the doctors to get a shot.

So while you’re chilling in your room, binge watching Netflix, binge eating a bag of Doritos, or anything else the steryotypical college student does, take the 30 minutes to get your shot.

It’s simple.

Call McKinley Health Center: 217-333-2701.

Choose Immunization & travel office.

Ask to schedule an appointment.

Show up to appointment with student ID.

Check in.

Walk into the office.

They’ll ask you which arm, swab it, put it in.

And boom.

You’re done.


It’s REALLY that simple. 

Study Abroad Strategically

Sep 8
Meredith Blumthal, Director of ACES Education Abroad Program

This time of year we are surrounded by corn and soybean fields, living in the land of flat and fertile farmland. As you consider what you study, gear up for career fairs and your future career path, remember the walls of our great university do not confine you. Rather, they are your gateway to the world and perhaps the career you never thought was possible.

We don’t live in wine country, but if you want a career in that industry, study abroad can provide you with those skills. For example, consider spending a summer abroad in France learning about French and European agriculture, and then spend 4 weeks living and working on a winery. Or, spend a semester in Mendoza, Argentina, the center of Malbec wine production, where you will learn about Argentine wines, Spanish language, and then work for a winery such as Trapiche, whose name you might find in your local grocery store.

Although we are landlocked, study abroad provides an array of opportunities to study marine life. Spend a semester program in the Galapagos Islands, and study on one of the world's most beautiful and biologically diverse locations. Get hands-on experience in marine ecology. Or, you could spend the semester in Turks and Caicos with the School for Field Studies learning about marine ecosystems and conducting research techniques in the field. If you just can’t convince yourself to spend a semester abroad, then pay attention to faculty led programs in the Bahamas at the Cape Eleuthera Institute this winter break.

Interested in wildlife management and conservation issues? Study abroad in Botswana, Tanzania, or South Africa to gain experiential knowledge of various wildlife management and conservation issues in Africa and to attain proficiency in field research.

Illinois provides you with a vast array of programs and opportunities. To learn more visit

Meredith visiting the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Ready to find an exciting career?

Sep 1
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

ACES is committed to getting their students career-ready! Don’t miss the following events taking place this fall that will cover key topics for job search success and culminate at the ACES & Sciences Career Fair where more than 100 organizations will be seeking ACES talent.

Dress for Success Workshop
Join us September 13 from 2-3:30 p.m. at Bergner’s at the Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign to learn tips on how to dress professionally on a budget from ACES alum Michael Ujcich.

Resume Rules Workshop
On September 17 from 6-7:30 p.m. in 161 Noyes Laboratory, learn how to develop a stand-out resume. After Q&A, employers will individually review resumes and provide advice.

Study Abroad Workshop
If you have studied abroad, meet us in the Heritage Room of the ACES Library on September 22 at 5 p.m. to learn how to translate your skills to employers.

Interviewing Free of Flub
Scared about interviewing? Have your interview questions answered by recruiters from our company sponsors on September 24 from 6-7 p.m. in 1002 Lincoln Hall.

Networking Prep
Practice your networking skills with professionals on October 1 in the Heritage Room of the ACES Library from 6-7 p.m. Representatives from one or more of our sponsoring companies will participate.

ACES & Sciences Career Fair
Get this on your calendar now! Join us at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on October 8 from 1-5 p.m. More than 100 organizations will participate, including companies and non-profits. For more detailed information, visit I-link.

Learn more about these interactive events through I-Link. Can't wait to see you there!