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

Getting to know an RSO

Feb 9
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

Who loves puppies? You're right. Everyone. The Pre-Vet Club is a registered student organization in the College of ACES whose members not only love puppies but ultimately wish to pursue careers in animal-related fields.

Quick Facts
Pre-Vet Club is housed in the Department of Animal Sciences
President: Rosie Mazaheri
Members: 210
Fundraisers: Bake Sales, Mardi Paws, Thanksgiving Basket Drive, World Vets
Activities: Wet Labs, Job Shadows, Zoo Tours, Vet School Visits, APVMA Symposium
Mascot: Bruiser (see below)

This club was designed to give students information about the field of Veterinary Medicine through a variety of different learning experiences. I asked Pre-Vet Club President, Rosie Mazaheri, about the ways in which its members can gain this information. She said, “We offer many opportunities for members such as monthly meetings with speakers who are experts in the field of veterinary medicine, shadowing opportunities at the College of Veterinary Medicine, a variety of wet labs, trips to visit veterinary schools in neighboring states, tours of the veterinary facility at different zoos and animal sanctuaries. My favorite opportunity for our members, however, is the APVMA Symposium, which is held at a different school each year. It brings pre-veterinary students from all around the country together to listen to veterinary-based lectures and participate in informative labs. It really allows students to understand all the wonderful opportunities in veterinary medicine."

This month PVC is doing a fundraiser in the spirit of Mardi Gras - so perfectly named "Mardi Paws" - where members are graciously donating various shelter items like pet food, toys, treats, and cleaning supplies to the Vermillion County Animal Shelter. In the past, they’ve had bake sales to raise money for VIDA, an organization that provides veterinary care in areas with little-to-no access to veterinary care in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. PVC also helped with the Thanksgiving Basket Drive where they gathered enough items to help 12 families enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

If you're considering pursuing an animal-related career, show your love for puppies and get involved with Pre-Vet Club. There's invaluable information, opportunities, and experiences provided by this RSO and many other ACES clubs. Check out the ACES Student Clubs and Organizations so you can get to know the other RSOs!

PVC Members at a tour of the Exotic Feline Center in Indiana

Mazaheri’s pup, Bruiser, in the PVC Cube

Loving on agriculture

Feb 8
Sara Barton, Agricultural Leadership and Science Education Program Intern

February is the month of love. Valentine’s Day is vastly approaching, and people are thinking hard about how to show their significant others just how much they love them. As a farm girl and Agriculture Education major, the agriculture industry holds a special place in my heart. This Valentine’s Day, I would like to show some love to one of my favorite things, agriculture.

On a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, agriculture is playing a huge role. The flowers you are buying, and chocolate-covered strawberries you are consuming are made available to you because of agriculture. Horticulturists in florist shops are running full speed and farmers are scrambling to harvest their produce to get it on the shelf.

I love agriculture. Not only for giving us products for holidays like Valentine’s Day, but also for creating a fruitful future for us all. Hard work, intelligence, and passion are words that come to mind when I think about the people that I know working in the agriculture industry. The influence of agriculture can shape your mind and actions into being a humble and respectable person. To me, an industry that can change the attitude and heart of a person is worth loving.

I encourage you all to take the time to think about the important role this industry plays in your life. Show agriculture some LOVE by thanking a farmer, agriculture teacher, or educating others about this great industry.


Feb 4
Brianna Gregg, ACES Coordinator of Transfer Recruitment

“Why did you choose Illinois?” That is a question asked to many of our students and alumni and as I sit at my desk, counting down the hours until the new incoming freshman class decisions are released (less than 24 hours friends!!), I ponder the same. Why did I choose Illinois for my educational (and now professional career). And to that I say, tradition! But not in the ‘my parents took me to all the Illini games growing up’ or ‘I bleed orange and blue’ sense of tradition- more in the sense of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ tradition.

My mom, brother and aunts came to Illinois, my grandpa Lee Gray attended Illinois in the 1941, my great grandma, Fannie Lee, graduated from Illinois, and finally my great-great grandfather, Elisha Lee, graduated from Illinois- hence Tevye’s definition of TRADITION! (You’ll be singing that all afternoon- sorry!) They all choose Illinois for its tradition in excellence.

Though none of my family is currently attending Illinois or live in the immediate area, I still have a sense of belonging because they were here before me. Never was Illinois forced on me to choose, but there was a great sense of pride when I finally received that ‘admit’ decision. I now belong and contribute to my family’s Illinois tradition. Of course there is MUCH more than tradition offered at Illinois, but if you are one of the first in your families to go onto college or to consider choosing Illinois, we hope you start that tradition with us.

So to those of you waiting for your decision on Friday (4:00, online!), I wish you all the best! I hope you too will join in the Illinois Tradition!

My grandpa Gray’s student ID card from 1941.

Excellence Everywhere

Feb 3
Kendra Courson, Director for Special Events

This week wraps up a month of Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) interviews. I am fortunate I get to participate in these interviews as they are some of the most rewarding hours I spend each and every year.

Jonathan Baldwin Turner was a pioneer of agriculture education in Illinois. Turner’s dedication and leadership were influential in the passage of the Morrill Act, establishing a framework for the land-grant system of agricultural institutions throughout the US. Because of his instrumental role in conceptualizing the land-grant university system, Turner was selected as a namesake for the scholarship program.

In person interviews (and Skype interviews) have taken place over the past several weeks on campus as well as at the Illinois Business Center in Naperville. Approximately 130 highly qualified prospective students have been interviewed and, boy, have there been some exceptional young people. I am constantly amazed by the intelligence, humility, and insight of these outstanding students as well as the experiences they have had during high school. I have also been fortunate to interview students and then work with them after they have arrived on campus.

Last week’s trip to Naperville was quite an event. Over 50 students (a record) were interviewed by College of ACES faculty, staff and alumni. The day began at 5:00 a.m. and ended around 8:00 p.m. for those making the trip from campus. It was definitely a long day but all of us involved left feeling privileged for the opportunity to get to meet so many exceptional students. Another treat for us and the students/parents was we were joined by Illinois basketball great Dee Brown. Dee is currently serving in an administrative role with the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. And, not much has changed in the past 10 years since he was the star point guard for Illinois: he still loves the school, still wants to share experiences with prospective students and wants to help in any way.

Dee Brown discusses opportunities at Illinois with prospective students and their parents.

Sound science meets good journalism

Feb 2
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

As an agricultural communications graduate, I am delighted when good journalism shares sound science. On a recent Sunday morning, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled when I heard mention of an upcoming GMO food story on one of my favorite news programs, CBS Sunday Morning. Let’s be honest, big media isn’t always fair to American agriculture.

Instead, what followed was a well-informed, fair, educated 10-minute piece representing sound science. It addressed the reasons for genetically modified organisms – disease resistance, reduction in fertilizer and herbicide use, nutrient additives, to name a few. Impacts, including solving nutrient deficiencies around the globe, were also included. This is not just an issue we in developed countries can consider from our own perspective. Differing viewpoints were also included.

The piece indeed impressed me, but it also made me question if the general population has been so far distanced from the basic aspects of genetic modification that we are no longer actually debating the science. Is it time to get back to the basics?

Later this month, the College of ACES will take to Twitter to bring the GMO discussion back to the facts, based in core science. Join Dr. Steve Moose for "GMOs Revealed" - a one-hour chat on Feb. 25 from noon to 1 p.m. He'll be answering your questions live on Twitter with #askACES.


Increasing international impacts

Feb 1
Leslie Sweet Myrick, Office of International Programs Media Communications Specialist

Improving crops in Nepal, developing nutrient supplements for India, and protecting habitats for migratory birds.

You may assume I’m referring to our wonderful ACES faculty, but these activities are just some of the recent contributions ACES graduate students have made towards addressing global challenges.

The Office of International Programs supports an internationalized graduate education in many ways; one important and somewhat recent initiative is the ACES international graduate grant program. For the past two years, our office has administered funding for international activities that contribute to dissertation research, thesis research, and other research projects. We are now accepting applications for the third round.

Read more about this program and the impacts our ACES graduate students are making around the world.

ACES international graduate grantee Alex Park with farmers and villagers in Bihar.
ACES international graduate grantee Alex Park with farmers and villagers in Bihar.