Hidden Campus Gems

Mar 4
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

For the number of collective years that I’ve spent on our campus as either a student or professional, I’m always really impressed when I found out about new places/services that I wasn’t already familiar with. In fact, I was just in the Main Library a few weeks ago and literally discovered entirely new rooms that I had no clue existed. So, I decided to compile some of my favorite campus “hidden” gems that I’m sure most students would appreciate learning about.

Post Office at Altgeld Hall
I know that with the digital age, we are increasingly sending less and less items through traditional postal mail. But, sometimes you just need to buy stamps or send a package and while there is a post office on Green and 3rd, we have one right here on campus! Per the Math Library website, “There is a United States Post Office in Altgeld, though due to the internal layout of the building, finding it can be difficult. The easiest way to get to it is to find the two blue mail boxes outside of Altgeld Hall on Wright Street. If you are already in Altgeld, exit the building at the main entraince on Green Street and turn left; turn left again onto Wright and look for the large blue mail box. Just behind the mail box is a door into the building; if you enter this door, you will walk right into the post office.” Location hours can be found on the USPS’ website.

The Underground Tunnels
Contrary to popular belief, “the tunnels” are not just an urban legend. In fact, they are pretty common for such large campuses like ours for steam pipes and other utility services. Last spring, NRES professor, Dr. Bethany Cutts, was featured in the Daily Illini about her frequent use of them to and from her campus classes and her office here in Turner Hall. Similar to Dr. Cutts, my use of the tunnels extend from Turner Hall to the Institute for Genomic Biology and most importantly, which leads to my final hidden gem, Bevier Hall!

Bevier Café
Did you know that we have student-ran restaurant right here on our campus? As part of the Food Science and Human Nutrition program, students registered in FSH340 (Quantity Food Preparation and Service course) get real-life experience running a full-service restaurant. Much like many of the College of ACES departments, Bevier Café, offers our students a unparalleled experience that is hands-on and expands learning beyond the classroom. Bevier Café has hot breakfast from 8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., their daily menu is available on their website.

Have fun exploring campus and getting to know my “hidden” gems a little better!

The Tunnels
"The Tunnels" graphic appeared in the Daily Illini - 3/11/2014

ACE students discover career opportunities in their own backyard

Mar 2
Theresa Miller, Academic Advisor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

It has been said that the best education you will ever receive is through adventures. The University of Illinois is globally known for its world-class study abroad opportunities; however, what many do not realize is that it does not take a twelve-hour plane ride to see life in an entirely new light. In fact, the 20 ACE students that visited Chicago this winter break found out just how many opportunities were offered just outside their backyard.

The trip was the conclusion of the course ACE 398, Agribusiness and Financial Markets in Chicago, led by Jon Scholl, an ACE instructor.  As a part of the course, students were split into four groups: Commodity Markets, Agricultural Finance, Food Manufacturing, Processing and Service, and Local Food Production; each group researched issues surrounding these topics in the light of the companies visited on the trip.

The Commodity Markets group focused on the physical or virtual marketplace for buying, selling, and trading raw primary products. Students visited the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Demeter Capital Management, OSI Group, and Eli’s Cheesecake, allowing them the opportunity to ask questions of firms engaged in commodity trading first hand.  Seeing possible future professional outcomes, the students noted that interacting with successful professionals on this trip allowed them to build connections that could potentially assist them in future career searches.

Agricultural finance students investigated input supply, production, distribution, wholesale, processing, and marketing within the lens of firms such as The Private Bank, Demeter Capital Management-Highlights, Wirtz Distribution, and Northern Trust.  Scott Segobiano, senior in ACE, said the trip “was eye-opening to see how many paths [their future] could lead them down,” he said, “I learned that college majors are not cold cut, you can do what you want with your future”.

Learning about McDonald’s’ handshake agreements showed the Food Manufacturing, Processing and Service group on a quest to discover drivers for firms to source raw ingredients and follow the supply chain for major food companies. They were given a behind the scenes look at some of Chicago’s tastiest businesses, such as McDonald’s, Testa Produce, Wildfire Restaurant, and Eli’s Cheesecake Co. Preston Brown, Senior in ACE, noted, “many of these corporations base their company on loyalty, they knew every single producer they get their food from."

The Local Foods group targeted a goal of getting a ground floor view of local food movement in Chicago.  Visits to Windy City Harvest, Fresh Picks, and Local Foods allowed them to discuss controversial topics like organics, GMOs, and locally grown foods with owners of leading firms in the distribution of local foods in a major food hub.

Students were asked to consolidate their findings in a final powerpoint presentation to a group of professionals and professors at the conclusion of the trip.  The message?  Finding how agribusiness, food, and finance intersect in Chicago, and the presence of Illinois grads there to help students navigate some of the most important issues of the time in these industries, made for an exciting career development opportunity in the pupils’ hometowns.

ACE students discover career opportunities in their own backyard

My favorite faculty...

Feb 27
Iris Grossman, Animal Sciences sophomore

My name is Iris Grossman and I am a sophomore in Animal Sciences with a concentration in technology and management. One of my favorite things about the University of Illinois is our meat science program. I started working at the meat science lab in the fall of my freshman year, and I have worked there ever since under the direction of Dr. Anna Dilger and Dr. Dustin Boler. I am also on the meat judging team, which has been a terrific experience so far and is coached by Katelyn Jones-Hamlow. One of my favorite classes that I have taken at U of I is ANSCI 209 – meat animal carcass evaluation. I have learned so much about the meat industry as well as how live animal characteristics translate to commercial value. I am so grateful to my favorite faculty members who have helped guide me to where I am today. I could not have achieved so much without my meat science team, thank you!

Iris and her fav faculty

An invaluable experience

Feb 26
Lucas Frye, Senior in Agricultural and Consumer Economics

As “I Love Illinois Week” continues on, it is a unique opportunity to reflect on some of the phenomenal experiences within the College of ACES. Our world-class education comes to mind—no doubt, the wide array of study abroad and experiential learning offerings—certainly, but not to be shorted are the student-driven dynamics of the college through involvement opportunities in clubs. ACES is the home of many exceptional registered student organizations working on initiatives from student happenings, to industry and career development, as well as programming major events in the college. With more than 40 organizations with distinct ties to agriculture, consumer, and environmental sciences, the impact created by students, both for students and for the college, is invaluable.     

One such organization that I have been fortunate to be a part of over the past three years is the Explore ACES steering committee. Working alongside advisors and a team of 12 other highly motivated students to plan the college’s largest recruiting has been one of the most rewarding opportunities that I have had over the past four years. The fact that the college entrusts such a large responsibility to students, in and of itself, speaks volumes to the types of hands-on learning facilitated throughout all elements of undergraduate experience in ACES. We look forward to highlighting all of the college’s clubs, academic programs, and exceptional opportunities to prospective students and their families.  

This leads to a call for action for all of our students, alumni, and friends of ACES. As we ponder the passions we have for all things Illini throughout “I Love Illinois Week,” I’d encourage you to consider the strongest way to express appreciation for the opportunities that the College of ACES has provided you—by sharing the experience with the next generation. Let them know that the doors to our college will be wide open the weekend of March 13-14, for Explore ACES, where we will engage and challenge interested students to consider one thing—Imagine your Future in the College of ACES.

Explore ACES Steering Committee

Wear Orange Wednesday

Feb 25
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

A frequent question I get when I tell people I work for my alma mater is “So, you loved it so much you never left, huh?”, to which I always reply “No. I loved it so much I went on the other side of the world and came back!”

The education and experience I gained from the College of ACES is one that was life-changing and very impactful. So much so, that when I returned from my 27 month service in the United State Peace Corps, in Paraguay (4,920 miles from Urbana), I was elated at the opportunity to come home to the department where I received my degree, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and inspire and motivate others into our field. During my undergraduate career at Illinois, I was connected to amazing mentors in the environment field, gained valuable hands-on experiences in our field courses, and expanded my world knowledge on a variety of topics. The privilege of being an alumnus and staff in ACES is one that I don’t take lightly, and I’m always excited as I work with future students in realizing their own potentials here in our college.

From South Korea, Paraguay, and back here in the Midwest, I wear my Illini pride on my sleeve!

Manuel in Mexico

Manuel at Konkuk University

Manuel in Champaign-Urbana

When a College Becomes a Family

Feb 24
Holly Spangler, Ag Comm Alum and Special Projects Editor at Penton | Farm Progress

Once upon a time, I was a wayward freshman at the University of Illinois, enrolled in pre-med in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I have written before, how it took me not so long at all (approximately October of my freshman year) to decide that eight years of chemistry was simply not in the cards for me. How my roommate at 4-H House talked me through what I might be interested in, listened and explained there was a major called agricultural communications which fit exactly what I spoke of.

From there, it was a meeting in the basement of Mumford Hall with Bob Hays, who would become my great advisor, friend and mentor. That led to another meeting with the grandfather of ag communications, Jim Evans. That led to a speedy entry into the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

And that led to a passionate career among my people, the very ones I knew and understood and love, many of whom also graduated from the College of ACES. Basically, nirvana.

One of the things I most clearly remember about that time of transition was the feeling of finally being home.

As a freshman at 4-H House, I quickly figured out who the ag majors were: they were the ones going to College of ACES cook-outs together, to College of ACES welcome back parties, to ag organization meetings together, of which they were very likely officers for. I remember seeing them leave the house together for one gathering or another and feeling more than a little left out. They had a sense of camaraderie that I didn't find in my college. It seemed special.

And so it was when I learned that my newly-found interest in ag communications would put me squarely in the College of ACES, I was giddy. I was in! Bob Hays paved my way into an early entry to the College, waving the requirement to take ACES 100 (then AG100) but still requiring me to take AGCOM100 (Which he happened to teach...coincidence? I think not.) Before long, I was joining clubs and interviewing for organizations like the Student Advancement Committee, which became that place where so many good memories – and connections – were made.

Looking back, it's easy to see what I really joined: a family. The ACES family. Where you can walk down the hall and even the dean knows your name. Good people, good work, good times. And I've never regretted it.

For a lot of College of ACES students, the educational experience is amplified by the friendships and relationships they develop within their ACES family.

Just a few reasons why I <3 ACES

Feb 23
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

Every time I hear “Illinois Loyalty” ringing from Altgeld as I walk to class, my decision to come to the University of Illinois is reaffirmed. It’s my home away from home. A place I feel like I belong and I owe that to the College of ACES. I may be a little biased, but this is by far my favorite college, and I have three reasons why.

1.    Department of Animal Sciences: As an animal science major, the opportunities and experiences I’ve had so far are incredible ones. When Dr. Parsons handed out baby chicks for my ANSC 100 class to hold while he gave a lecture, I knew I was in the right spot. Animal Science students can take trips to the farm to get hands-on experience or be part of RSO’s like Teachers for Creatures or the Rodeo Club. There is a diverse range of animal lovers walking through the Animal Science Lab and they’re part of the reason the College of ACES is so wonderful.

2.    College of ACES Library: It’s my favorite library to study, because it’s quiet, small, and cozy. Not to mention the students that work there are great! I’ve been working at this library for two years and it’s one of the places I spend most the majority of my time. The people that come in and out of the library are there for many different reasons – attending events and meetings, searching for a job, getting a resume reviewed, asking questions about scholarships, or trying to find the vending machines. You’ll end up spending more time at this library than you realize which is great, because it’s the best one!

3.    The exceptional students, faculty, and staff: Without them, those places above wouldn’t be as special. The professors really care about you as a student and want to expand your knowledge and way of thinking. It’s not just about the tests and quizzes, it’s about growing as a person and getting us prepared for life. The people I work with in Suite 115, the Dean’s Office, Mumford Hall, and the Alumni Association are all people who care deeply about the students and this college, and they’ve made my time here an enjoyable one.

What’s your favorite thing about the College of ACES? Head over to the College of ACES Facebook page and share the love!

Sara Tondini

University of Illinois Undergraduate Case Study Team competes in Las Vegas

Feb 19
Theresa Miller, Academic Advisor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

I'm always fascinated by the opportunities our students have to succeed in the College of ACES. Dr. Brenna Ellison, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE), shared some great news about the University of Illinois Undergraduate Case Study Team she advises.

Last week, the University of Illinois and ACE department sent its first team of undergraduate students to compete in a national undergraduate case study competition sponsored by the Asparagus Club during the National Grocers Association's annual conference in Las Vegas. Participating teams were tasked with answering the question “What is the next generation of retail circulars?”. The U of I team proposed a personalized digital circular and a phase-out of printed circulars – a strategy which earned them one of six spots in the national semifinals!

Case study team members (from left to right) included Rachel Richardson (Sophomore in Consumer Economics and Finance; Champaign, IL), Mike Azzaro (Senior in Agribusiness Markets and Management; Park Ridge, IL), Leah Horton (Senior in Agribusiness Markets and Management; St. Charles, IL), and Aaron Wall (Senior in Agribusiness Markets and Management; Effingham, IL).

Way to go ACE students!

University of Illinois Undergraduate Case Study Team competes in Las Vegas

Morocco Rocks!

Feb 12
Wendy White, Crop Sciences Undergrad Recruiter

As a both a first time traveler to Morocco and first time chaperone for a Study Abroad trip, I must say the experience not only exceeded my expectations, it was AWESOME!!! The country, culture and people of Morocco are both fascinating and enchanting. What added to the total enjoyment of the trip was to experience not only my personal sense of wonderment but in sharing that with the best group of students ever! Please check out the great trip summary below authored by Sarah Reising-Rechner.

“Markets, Oranges, and Camels”

This winter break Professor Mosbah Kushad and recruiter Mrs. Wendy White took eleven students abroad to study horticulture crops and the beautiful culture of Morocco. After a nine-hour flight from O’Hare airport in Chicago we arrived to Marrakech, Morocco.  The minute we stepped off the airplane it was a gasp of excitement and anticipation.  The weather was perfect that day, a mere 70 degrees and a sun so warm – we were overdressed to be in this gorgeous weather!  We were able to take a walk to the Marrakech market that evening and experience the hustle and bustle of a Moroccan market.  When we arrived to the market we all stood in awe of the amount of people present.  It was so overwhelming! The amount of people and things for sale was almost scary, but so exciting and different from the culture in America.
We traveled around almost the entire country to visit different farms, markets, and agricultural businesses. The staple crop of Morocco is wheat. Wheat was just beginning to grow when we arrived so we looked at a few other crops that Morocco has to offer.  We visited an orange farm where there were miles of orange trees with beautiful bright orange coloring on them.  As we walked through the farm Professor Kushad translated with the farmer about his crops and how he grows his oranges. The orange farmer was very insistent that we eat as many oranges as we wanted to. This was a both blessing and a curse because many of the students ate multiple pounds of oranges that day. We also visited olive plantations, a vineyard, apple orchard, sugar beet and carrot field, and much more!

While we were studying abroad we noticed a lot of differences in not only the way they farm in Morocco, but the culture as well! We till, plant, and harvest a field with tractors in America. But in Morocco they use horses, mules, and donkeys to till and harvest their fields.  Most of the farmers then hand plant their crops. The farms are much smaller in Morocco and this is due to the lack of tractors, and people simply do not own more than on hundred acres or so.  The people of Morocco were so genuine, nice, and welcoming to not only their country but their farms. They saw how interested we were in their crops that they wanted to give us all the information they could about their farms.

Overall, this study abroad tour was not only a great learning experience, but also an eye-opening experience.  We learned about so many different crops and how to grow, harvest, and store them that we could have never learned in a classroom. The time we spent in Morocco showed us just how people live and survive in different countries.  Also, what other time would we have been able to ride camels in the Sahara desert?


The group of ACES students pose for a picture in front of a beautiful Moroccan landscape.

ACES Summer Programs

Feb 2
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

As an employee of an educational institution, I often get questions about how great it must be to have my summers off. However, that’s not true at all. As an Undergraduate Recruiter, summer is a very popular season for outreach programming. In fact, The College of ACES offers a variety of summer programs that last from one week to an entire month. Some are ran autonomously by the different units, others are in collaboration with multinational corporations and federal agencies. With a background in conservation education and outreach, our summer programs are a great opportunity to connect with youth that are interested in science and excited about exploring the career and educational options available to them. Below, I’m going to highlight some of the programs that I have worked with in the past and are currently open for applications from high school students.

Illini Summer Academies
June 21 to 24, 2015

The Illini Summer Academies is a four-day event which gives high school youth the opportunity to explore career opportunities at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Youth who attend will explore the University of Illinois campus, study potential career opportunities, build their leadership skills, engage in fun activities and meet youth from across the state. Academies are open to ANY Illinois youth who are currently in eighth to twelfth grade. They must be an incoming high school freshman to graduating senior this summer and must fall within the 14-18 age range as of September 1 of the year in which ISA is being held. This is a live-in academy program; delegates will not be allowed to commute to the campus for daily activities. More information here!

Research Apprentice Program I
July 5 to August 1, 2015

As part of the Research Apprentice Program (RAP), students will be assigned to small groups or teams where they develop a presentation based on a set of special learning activities. The RAP I activities require each team to demonstrate a basic understanding of the food supply chain, i.e., production, marketing, transportation processing, and advertising perspectives. A series of visits and seminars held at various businesses serve as a resource base for the information necessary to successfully complete this exercise. All RAP I activities emphasize teamwork, problem-solving, computer skills and presentation skills. At the end of the program, each team presents the outcomes of their assigned project activities. All students will be participating in a special hands-on mini-laboratory and science exercises developed to help them understand the application of math and science in various areas in the food, human and environmental sciences. The RAP I group will work on team projects co-designed by and co-sponsored by representatives from Kraft Foods Inc, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, PepsiCo (Barrington Group), John Deere, and Monsanto. More information here!

Research Apprentice Program II
June 14 to August 1, 2015

RAP II provides an intensive seven-week laboratory and academic enrichment experience for rising high school juniors and seniors with interests in further exploring science, technology, engineering and math related careers in the food, human and environmental sciences. Students are placed into laboratories where they conduct projects designed to build on interest in math, science, engineering and business. Some examples of laboratories in which students might be placed are plant genetics, animal physiology, plant tissue culture, nutritional sciences, food chemistry, food engineering, child development, agricultural marketing, computer imaging, and environmental sciences. Students with animal health interests will be placed in labs in Animal Sciences or Veterinary Medicine. Students with human health interests will be placed in laboratories within Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. The program is designed to focus on the application of math, science and communication skills, utilizing computers and technology to enhance the critical thinking abilities of participants. Students will participate in math and chemistry enrichment academic activities. A formal paper, oral presentation and a poster of each laboratory project are required of each student at the end of the program. More information here!

July 5 to August 1, 2015

Learn about career possibilities in the plant, animal and veterinary sciences, and learn how the USDA protects the American food supply. Over four weeks, students will live on the University of Illinois campus and have hands-on experiences in animal and plant laboratories, conducting small laboratory exercises under supervision of plant and animal scientists, and veterinarians, employed by the University and USDA. Field trips will be to USDA facilities, agricultural businesses, conservation areas, and zoological facilities to experience the vast aspects of the food and agriculture system. Students enhance academic skills in math, science and computers. More information here!

Below are just a few snapshots from the fun we had in ACES last summer!

ACES Summer Programs

ACES Summer ProgramsACES SUmmer programs 3