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.

Did I give it my best today?

Jan 28
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

At the door of my gym is a small machine with a sign which reads “How satisfied were you with our service today?” followed by four buttons. If I felt the service from staff was great that day, I touch the BIG SMILING FACE button as I walk out the door, and it records my rating. On any given day, I may rank the gym anywhere from excellent (big smile) to poor (big frown).

I always push a button. Always. Every day. If they’re willing to ask, I’m going to tell them. I like a company that is confident enough in their business and staff to put their reputation on the line every day. I assume if they receive repeated hits on the big frown button, they use that to help identify problems. Customer opinion drives excellence.

As students and staff, we also put our reputation on the line every day. We may not offer any buttons for people to rate us, but they are doing just that. With every encounter, every transaction, every assignment, every lecture, we are receiving a performance rating from those we meet. Those daily encounters add up and form the basis for whether people see us as hard working, dependable, trustworthy, and honest. Employers look for staff who repeatedly earn big-happy-face ratings from their clients and customers.

Which button would people press to rate your interaction with them today?

Making the most out of every opportunity

Jan 20
Nicole Chance, Sophomore in Agricultural Communications
School is back in session and it is back to the reality of being a college student. But being a college student has its perks. College provides you with opportunities to meet different people that share the same interests and passions as you. For example, I was able to participate in a great networking opportunity over winter break—the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Professional Development Conference at Oklahoma State. I wanted to share just a few of the things I was able to take away from this experience!

1.    “When you enjoy what you do, you do a better job.”
That is a direct quote from Kelly Barnes, the kickoff speaker of the conference. Not only reassure me that I was in the right place, but also that the degree I have chosen to pursue is a 100% the right choice for me! I love to write and communicate with others. That passion and desire has really helped me to apply myself and have an eagerness to learn more about the industry I represent. If you do not enjoy what you are doing, then the passion and desire is not there and the willingness to learn and succeed is not present. Find something you enjoy and give it 110%!

2.    Don’t be afraid to meet new people—expand your horizons.
You can never know too many people. College is the best to time to meet people that share the same interests and passion as you possess. Through this experience, I became close with many other ag communications students from multiple universities. Specifically, I have gained close relationships with girls from THE Ohio State University (they get mad if THE is not at the front). I was intrigued to learn about their goals, internship experiences, and what they hope to do in the future and I know they will go far. Meeting peers like that inspires me. Who knows…one day I could be working alongside one of them!

3.    “Your knowledge is nothing if your knowledge does not serve.”
This really spoke to me. As college students sometimes we get so caught up in life. We ask ourselves questions like “What am I going to wear?” or “What does she/he think of me?” We get so caught up in a me-focused society that we don’t take time to think of others. The agriculture industry provides us with the perfect opportunity to serve those who need it most. We have the ability to produce, provide, and educate others about food production in a world today that needs it more than ever! Our responsibility is to use our knowledge to serve those who need it most, not use it for our own selfish ambitions.
Whenever you are given the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom throughout your college career, I suggest you take it! What you learn and the relationships you make are memorable experiences that you won’t forget.

5 tips for the new year

Jan 12
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

Whether you spent most of your break sleeping or eating or both, it’s time to get back to business. It's the beginning of a new semester with new classes, professors, classmates and opportunities. In order to get off on the right foot, I have some tips for the New Year and the new semester.

1. Go to class: We're starting fresh. As of now you have the opportunity to get all your participation points for your classes :) go you! If you were stressing around finals time last semester, use that to help you stay focused this semester. Attend class and take your studying seriously. You’ll be thanking yourself in May.

2. Improve your study habits: You could start a study group in one of your more challenging classes or take notes in a different way. If you usually type your notes on your laptop, try writing them down in a notebook instead. Writing can help you remember, and if you’re not on your laptop, you won’t be tempted to switch browsers and start shopping for spring break clothes. If you usually study at home change your surroundings. I’m partial to the ACES Library, but there are plenty of great study spots on campus.

3. Meet new people: Whether it's a classmate, a professor or someone sitting next to you at lunch, introduce yourself to someone new. This can be hard for the quiet ones (me), but networking is one of the most valuable assets you will gain in college. I’m not saying the person you introduce yourself to is going to give you a job on the spot, but everyone you meet knows something you don’t, and it’s important we learn from others.

4. Try new things: At least one new thing! Maybe you want to try a new restaurant with friends or get involved in a study abroad experience or join an RSO. Don't limit yourself. Sometimes we get stuck in the same routine and get too comfortable. Challenging yourself and stepping outside of your box, even just a little bit, can create opportunities you didn’t know were there.

5. Recharge: It's important to take care of yourself. Try and do something every week that recharges you. It could be a trip to the gym or a movie night with some friends or my personal favorite, a nap! Make time for yourself to do something you enjoy. This will make some of the stress of that week go away, so you are in the right mindset to stay focused on school, work and your other responsibilities.

It’s a New Year, but you’re still you, and you know yourself better than anyone. So before classes start, take some time to think about how you want this semester to go. You can try all of my tips or come up with some of your own. It’s important to set goals and stick to them. Make this year your best year yet!

Come back soon!

What’s your New Semester Resolution?

Jan 6
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

The start of the calendar year typically includes a few New Year’s resolutions. Some people set a goal to lose weight, exercise more, give up a poor habit, or live a healthier lifestyle.

For students and faculty, it’s important to reenergize during Winter Break. Rest. Enjoy time with family and friends. Prepare for the upcoming semester.

In the next few weeks, challenge yourself to create a New Semester Resolution. What do you want to do differently this semester? Improve your grades? Join an RSO? Commit to a study abroad experience?

Like any goal setting process, be specific with your New Semester Resolution. Establish checkpoints to evaluate your progress. Provide measurable and realistic details to help you achieve your New Semester Resolution.

Enjoy the next few weeks of your break. Return to campus with a renewed sense of purpose to fulfill your New Semester Resolution!

New Semester Resolutions