Looking Toward Our Future

Jul 13
Jessica Telgmann, Senior in Agricultural Communications

The first ACES Family Academies took place July 9 and 10, and I was lucky enough to volunteer at the event. Nearly 100 participants came to campus--alumni and their children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren.

The alumni and their “future Illini” learned about wellness, animal sciences, robotics, electricity, food science, and much more!

I loved watching the multiple generations interact together while they both learned new subject matter. The bonds formed were special, and ACES Family Academies allowed those relationships to become stronger.

All day long I saw smiling faces. Personally, my favorite session was the Magical Milk Lab where participants learned how curds are formed and even got to make and enjoy a sweet treat. Who doesn’t love ice cream?

This event was a great opportunity for alumni to bring their families back to the Illinois campus and share the special memories they have of this great place, as well as make some new ones!  

Grab a bucket!

Jul 13
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

There never seemed to be enough 5-gallon buckets on the farm when I was growing up. From gardening to cattle feed, mixing concoctions or just storing supplies, we always needed more. Now is a great time to purchase a few 5-gallon buckets at your closest Rural King location. 

From now until July 25, customers at Illinois Rural King stores can help support 4-H by purchasing a 5-gallon 4-H bucket. For every bucket sold, Rural King will donate $1.00 to Illinois 4-H. In addition to supporting 4-H, you’ll also save, receiving 10% off on everything you can fit in the bucket (with just a few exceptions and rules).

Rural King hopes to be able to donate $50,000 to 4-H programs throughout 10 states.  Rural King stores are located in the following Illinois towns. 

Illinois locations include: 

Outside Decatur

ACES Family Academies is Almost Here!

Jul 7
Tina Veal, Director of Alumni Relations

We are just a few short days away from launching the inaugural ACES Family Academies event on Thursday, July 9 at the College of ACES! We look forward to welcoming 96 participants from six states, 30 faculty instructors, and more than 40 volunteers to campus this week to participate in educational sessions across the College of ACES campus. Participants will be engaged in hands-on sessions about wellness, animal sciences, robotics, electricity, and take tours of the student sustainable farm, the beef farm, and the solar energy house….just to name a few!


ACES Family Academies is a new program sponsored by the ACES Alumni Association. ACES alumni were invited to return to campus with youth ages 8-12 years of age. Many of the participants are bringing their children, grandchildren,or nieces and nephews to share their Illini pride with them! I am so proud of our college for showcasing what the College of ACES has to offer. Many of our alumni think about their days as a College of Agriculture or Home Economics student and may not know how many opportunities exist for our students today. I hope they will see the diversity we have in the College of ACES today! 


Stay tuned on the College of ACES Alumni Facebook page for photos from the 2-day event! 


The Simple Things

Jul 1
Jessica Telgmann, Senior in Agricultural Communications

It’s not raining today!

Wow, for the first time in weeks I don’t have to be concerned with the weather when headed out in the morning for work.  I didn’t bring my umbrella like usual or rethink my shoe choice to avoid muddy pants.

While my fellow classmates are also immersing themselves in their summer internships, I hope that they don’t allow these little details to get them down.

I know the hardship and discouragement of seeing the corn and bean crop swimming in pools of water or watching animals struggle from the stress of the heat.

There are always better and brighter days ahead! Soon, the puddles will disappear, July in all of its glory will set in, and this rain will be history.

I believe that this rain has been a good reminder of what we as ACES students, faculty, and alumni have to do frequently—keep your head up and carry forward.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney

 Walt said it well. Continue to be optimistic about the outcomes of the summer and be curious about all of the options and opportunities that await you.   

Don't Hold Yourself Back

Jun 17
Jessica Telgmann, Senior in Agricultural Communications

A year ago I was in Scotland. Beautiful, lush, green Scotland. It was my first time abroad, and not only was I nervous about the two weeks away from home, I thought it sounded like an eternity.

You see, growing up on a small grain and dairy farm my summers have been the same each year since I was four. Work on the farm and exhibit my Holstein dairy cattle at county and state shows. To most this must seem like a bore, but to me it’s not only tradition, it is life.

I thought that missing the two weeks for a trip to Scotland, England, and Ireland was going to ruin my whole summer, little did I know that it would change my whole life.

The trip is still a whirlwind in my mind. To me the two weeks seem like two hours now. When others ask about where I went and what I did, I have a hard time remembering the locations of where we stopped to see the beautiful scenic views, or what the bed and breakfast we stayed at was called.

 As a year has come and gone since this amazing experience, I can’t help but think about how soon I can revisit the velvety smooth green hills again. I am ever thankful that I was given this opportunity and experienced another country.

I learned that there is much more to see in this world than I ever dreamed. I urge you all to take every opportunity you have, take a trip to a new place, experience how life is in a different country, and do it as many times as you can. Although it can be nerve racking, you will wish to relive the experience again! 

How much will I be paid?

Jun 8
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

How many of us have either asked or been asked this question? Sometimes I invite people to help with activities or events, and their first question is, “How much will I be paid?” But for a rare few, this is the last thought that enters their mind. Most frequently, I’m referring to the servant leaders and life-long learners who have answered the call to become teachers.

The Agricultural Education Program was privileged to host 22 Illinois high school agriculture teachers for a three-day course on June 1-3. Most of the teachers have less than three years of experience and are still considered “new” to the profession. Teachers were able to learn about and practice science-based laboratory experiments they can immediately use in their classrooms. Besides the valuable skills and ideas teachers acquired, the best parts of the course may have been the life lessons shared by the veteran high school ag teachers who taught the course – Mrs. Sue Schafer (Taylorville), Mr. Tim Reed (Southwestern-Piasa), and Mr. Don Lockwood (Sullivan). All three of these individuals have previously served as cooperating teachers for the Agricultural Education Program, hosting and helping train future agriculture teachers.

In addition to sharing lesson plans, lab experiment ideas, and assessments, I had the opportunity to hear these three teachers share life lessons about being a teacher, managing a classroom, and balancing family and work responsibilities. Although they were more than willing to give up a day of their time to teach and spend multiple days planning instruction, none of them were paid for their time; in fact, none of them even asked about payment. In many cases, not only did they not receive payment, but they spent their own money to purchase some of the supplies and drive to and from campus to share ideas with other teachers.

Some people think teachers have it easy. After all, they get the whole summer off from work, right? (That statement always strikes a sensitive cord with me, as I am confident it does with most teachers.) For many teachers – especially agriculture teachers (in my overly biased opinion) – there is no summer off. Twenty-two teachers volunteered their summer time this week to learn from others and improve classroom instruction for students. Three additional teachers gave up valuable time to serve as instructors for the course. How much are these 25 individuals getting paid for their efforts? Zero. How much would they be willing to give of their time, energy, and efforts to help fellow teachers, students, and their communities? For most, that value is simply immeasurable and endless. Time well spent helping others, collaborating with other professionals, and improving one’s skills cannot be accurately measured with dollar signs and pay raises.



Agricultural Education Program

ACES graduate encourages students to invest in self

May 15
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Throughout her career Dawn Jackson Blatner (Dietetics, ’97) has often observed young dietitians had limited experience exploring and fostering their own wellness and nutrition. Blatner sought to encourage more self-care skill building by sponsoring a vision board competition for dietetic students.

The contest required students to create a picture collage outlining how they would use $1000 to gain real-world health and happiness experience. Entries included representations of healthy grocery shopping sprees, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, fitness equipment and clothing, and inspirational quotes. Some also referenced travel, fitness classes, spa treatments and cooking classes.

A panel of judges selected Nikki DeAngelis, a senior studying dietetics, as the winner of the poster competition. Nikki is excited to invest in her own health and wellness as she prepares for her career in dietetics.

The College of ACES and Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition appreciate Dawn Jackson Blatner’s investment in tomorrow’s dietetic leaders!

Justine Karduck, director of the didactic program in dietetics, congratulates Nikki DeAngelis on her winning entry.


Check It Off the “Bucket List”

May 14
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

After finishing 12 weeks of student teaching, Agricultural Science Education seniors culminated their academic careers with a study abroad experience to Puerto Rico. Under the guidance of Dr. Erica Thieman, Mr. Gary Ochs, and Dr. Cecilia Suarez, 10 students participated in a week-long journey of agricultural farms, businesses, and cultural experiences in Puerto Rico. Through cooperation with Wanda Perez from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the group toured five farming operations and a coffee processing facility along the southern coast and central mountainous regions. They also toured a university agricultural experiment station, a grain mill, and the College of Agriculture at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. Additionally, students visited an Indigenous Culture Center, beach, and closed out their week with a two-day stay in the rainforest.

For some participants, this was the first time they had ever seen the ocean, stood in a waterfall, hiked in a rainforest, or visited another culture outside of the lower 48 states.  Students returned from the trip with many photos, a much deeper knowledge of fruit and vegetable production, and lesson plans utilizing information from their experience for the agriscience classrooms they will be teaching in beginning Fall 2015.

Not only did the experience allow students to mark items off their “bucket list”, but they were also able to connect classroom content about global agriculture practices with firsthand experiences. Claire Geiger, one of the students who participated in the experience, said, “The trip to Puerto Rico was an amazing opportunity to see different agricultural practices in use. Being immersed in the culture also gave me a better understanding for the reasons they produce the variety of produce they do. During my time here at the University of Illinois, I've learned and researched practices like using nitrogen fixing cover crops and irrigation, but I haven't seen them used in the industry often. This trip provided me the chance to see both implemented in the production of plantains.  We also visited one of the University Research Farms trying different varieties of mangoes and how each variety is marketed to different consumer types based on their needs. What an experience!”

Definitely an experience of a lifetime for many. Bucket list item? Checked!


Ag Ed trip to Puerto Rico

Well done good and faithful servant

May 8
Lucas Frye, Senior in Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Yesterday was my last official board meeting as the Student Trustee for the University of Illinois. Of much higher significance—it was President Easter’s final meeting before he steps down from the rank at May 17th’s graduation ceremony.  He was presented gifts from each campus including a Lincoln collection from UIS, two Falcons named in his honor from UIC, and a piece of Mumford Marble from UIUC along with the bronze medallion of the University seal, but no token of appreciation could quite encapsulate the Illini community’s full gratitude for his service the past 40 years; service that has taken him from working with pigs to President.   
I can’t help but think about all of the lives he has impacted and relationships built in between. Over the past year, I have come to observe that everyone has a President, Dr. or Bob Easter story: From an Indianapolis-area alum that was an ROTC leader on campus the day a young Bob Easter came to Illinois looking to report, to former animal science students with stories from South Farms, and the numerous faculty and staff who have worked with him throughout the years.
A few of my own include sitting somewhat lost at my first BOT Healthcare meeting last July and President Easter would lean over, out of his own good measure, and side-moderate some of the background context for me throughout the discussions; or having taken time out of his busy early-morning schedule to meet for coffee; and even following up having read a book (Labor’s Millennium—a historical perspective of Jonathan Baldwin Turner’s vision for the university up through the end of the John Milton Gregory’s term as first President) within a few days of giving it to him. Simply put, I have found that, regardless of which title he carried throughout his career, he made time for everyone.
Meeting with numerous administration and faculty, over the course of the last six months, there has been a consistent remorseful tone when the topic of President Easter’s retirement is broached. Although we are gaining a terrific leader in President-designate Killeen, we have to let go the humble, genuine-visionary that has been a staple in the University leadership landscape for so many years.  
Coming off back-to-back scandal-laced administrations, President Easter wasn’t the leader that we deserved, but the one that we needed. His continued loyalty and service, in answering the call(s) when we needed leadership the most, cannot be matched.  I have to admit, I disagreed with the Daily Illini’s heading “Accidental President” on their feature story of President Easter recently. Although it was his words, I do not think his designation as the 19th President was an accident at all. There was a greater reason. His three years in office has left the University of Illinois in a much better place as it approaches its 150th anniversary. And for that, I think all that is left to be said by colleagues, alumni, students, legislatures and friends of Illinois in between is—well done good and faithful servant.


Lucas Frye, President Easter, Ed McMillan

The Scientist In All of Us

May 7
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

Have you ever heard of Citizen Science? It’s an amazing scientific research method that has been growing in popularity with advances in technology. Essentially, scientist are able to crowd-source some of their research data through the general public. Not only is it a novel way for academic researchers to share out their workload, but it’s a great way to inspire the scientist in all of us! When I was thirteen years old, I participated in a summer program at my local park called the Junior Earth Team (JET). And part of the work we did with JET was to go around other local green spaces and conduct Biodiversity Urban Surveys. The surveys were then logged and sent off to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for data collection and archival purposes. That experience has always stuck with me when I think of the immense potential each and every one of has to contribute to advancing great science in just our backyard. So, I’m going to highlight three really cool Citizen Science projects below, but encourage you to check out some others in your local area.

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Through the Adopt-a-Beach program, citizens are able to find beach cleanup opportunities in their area or schedule a cleanup event on their own.  Officially launched in 2003, Adopt-a-Beach is located in all eight Great Lakes states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – and has had over 15,000 participants. During a cleanup event, teams remove the litter and enter their results and finding to an online system to share with local beach authorities, educate the the public, and improve beaches.

Chicago Wildlife Watch
The Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo has been collecting camera trap photos on a variety of animals in different parts of Chicago for quite some time now. With more than 1 million photos, they just couldn’t possibly shuffle through all the data themselves. Citizens can navigate to their website, view the motion-activated photos, and identify what animals (if any) are in the shot. The data is then collected and analyzed to see patterns in these spaces across time (day or night) and the urban wildlife that use those spaces.


Midwest Invasive Species Network

In conjunction with the Applied Spatial Ecology and Technical Services Laboratory at Michigan State, there is now a mobile apple that allows you to capture invasive species field observation data. Available on both the iTunes App store and Google Play store, citizens can play an important role in the early detection and rapid response to new invasive threats in their area.