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!



ACES Week 2015

Aug 28
Laurie Kramer, Associate Dean and Professor, Office of Academic Programs

Welcome back students! I'd like to share a message from our ACES Week co-chairs below...

Hello! The College of ACES Student Council is pleased to host the week-long event, ACES Week, with the theme “Find Your Family in ACES!” Being a student in the College of ACES is like being a part of a family, and we want you to have the opportunity to connect with your fellow ACES students and learn about opportunities to help find your place in our college. Join us next week as we take pride in our college and participate in various activities from Monday, August 31 to Friday, September 4. Below is a flyer that lists information for each event.

​​​​Also, please enroll in the ACES excitement by joining the following events on Facebook:

ACES Week 2015: Find Your Family in ACES

- Monday: Words of Wisdom

- Tuesday: Meet Your Global Family

- Wednesday: Lunch with the Deans

- Thursday: Meet the Newest Generation

- Friday: Find Your Way Home

Let's make this year's ACES Week a well deserved "reunion"! We hope to see you there!

Your ACES Week Co-chairs,
Katherine Rola & Tom Poole

For further questions please contact us:
Katherine Rola (
Tom Poole (

Designate your dollars at Farm Progress Show

Aug 27
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

With a quick vote, visitors to the Farm Progress Show will be able to support the College of ACES and Illinois 4-H.

In celebration of the 100th year of the Farm Credit System, 1st Farm Credit Services and Farm Credit Illinois plan to distribute $100,000 to 10 different organizations with agriculture ties. The University of Illinois College of ACES and the Illinois 4-H Foundation are two of those organizations.

The proportion of the $100,000 that will be contributed to the College of ACES and Illinois 4-H is dependent on votes received at the Farm Progress Show, Sept. 1-3 in Decatur, Ill. “Designate the Dollars” allows Farm Progress Show attendees to vote for an organization via an electronic survey at the Farm Credit/1st Farm Credit exhibit. College of ACES and Illinois 4-H will receive $1000 for each percentage of the total vote they receive. For example – 10% of the vote equals a $10,000 contribution.

This is just one more way that Farm Credit continues their support of and partnership with Illinois 4-H and the College of ACES. They provide undergraduate scholarship, 4-H project grants and more in support of youth development and agricultural education.

Be sure to stop by the Farm Credit tent (#763) to cast your vote for the College of ACES or Illinois 4-H. Help us spread the word to other Farm Progress Show attendees, as well!