Giving Thanks

Apr 30
Kendra Courson, Director for Special Events

On April 29 the college held an investiture ceremony for Dr. Bruce J. Sherrick, establishing him as the first holder of the Marjorie Fugate Fruin and Jerry E. Fruin Professorship of Land Economics. The ceremony was attended by colleagues and family of Dr. Sherrick, by friends and family of the Fruins, and by campus and college administrators. A dinner honoring the Fruins was enjoyed afterward.

As noted by Dean Robert Hauser, endowed professorships are among the university's most valued type of funding, and they reward faculty excellence in an incomparable manner. The Fruins' generous endowment supports--for as long as the university remains--the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, enhancing research, teaching, and outreach in agricultural finance, risk management, and land economics.

We thank the Fruins for their commitment, with a gift that will live and enliven their alma mater forever.

Provost Ilesanmi Adesida presents the investiture medallion to Dr. Bruce J. Sherrick.  

Dr. Sherrick's acceptance speech during his investiture ceremony.

Jerry E. Fruin, Marjorie Fugate Fruin, Claire Sherrick, Dr. Sherrick, Kris Sherrick, Dean Robert J. Hauser and Provost Adesida.


I Pay It Forward nearing the finish line

Apr 23
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Karina Barrios, sophomore in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, shares her thoughts on the final days of the I Pay It Forward campaign.

As a student at the University of Illinois, SAC member, and a runner, the excitement for the Illinois Marathon and I Pay It Forward Students Helping Students Campaign this weekend has inspired me to talk about two things I love: running and philanthropy. While the campus community is running the race to the marathon finish line, SAC is working towards their goal of successfully completing the I Pay It Forward Campaign in the next week.

Running teaches us to keep moving forward, one step at a time! Sometimes we need a little help from others to keep us motivated, especially in those last few miles. The same could be said for the I Pay It Forward campaign. This is about providing a little help to other ACES students when they especially need it!

The I Pay It Forward Team needs help to finish this “race” strong! SAC is on their way towards reaching their goal of 1500 donors in the month of April, but are still far from the finish line. To learn more about I Pay It Forward Students Helping Students Campaign, visit the Facebook Page. If you are interested in contributing, you can do so online. In addition, people are encouraged to attend a guaranteed fun time at the “Save the Date” Auction on Thursday, April 30.

Although the completion of the Illinois Marathon may seem like an impossible task, the feeling of satisfaction at the end is worth it all! I hope that you are encouraged to take that extra step to be a part of I Pay It Forward.

I Pay It Forward

Student teachers finishing their test of the real world

Apr 23
Jennifer Boberg, Senior in Agricultural Education

In the past three months, I have seen my fellow student teachers grow into amazing men and women and more importantly, teachers. We have all learned how to be amazing teachers over the course of the past three months from outstanding veterans teachers who have a passion for teaching. Now many of us are searching for agricultural teaching positions of our own (often competing against each other) and we will likely be scattered across the state once again. 

This is the time to reflect on our experiences over the past three months and four years. We have worked tirelessly to achieve the goal that we are about to reach. I’m sure each of us had very different student teaching experiences as we found home in a variety of agricultural programs, but I’m sure we all learned a lot—especially what it really takes to be an agricultural teacher and FFA advisor. We all spent countless nights, reflecting on how we could have done better that day, worrying about the lessons we were going to teach the next day, and just praying that we would make an impact in the three short months we had with our students. I don’t know about the others, but I fell in love with my students in those three months.

On the last day of my student teaching, my students threw a lunch party for me. At the party, one of my students gave me several gifts: duct tape with sheep, safety glasses (for the prepared agriculture teacher), an owl necklace (which I’ve barely taken off since), facial masks (for relaxation), an “I believe in the future of agriculture” painting, and a book full of notes from my students. While all these little gifts were very thoughtful, the one I will cherish for many years to come is the book of notes from my students. Each one of them wrote something to me and mentioned things I had long forgotten. I realized in that moment that I had made an impact on my students in just three short months. If I can do that in just three months with students, I am excited to discover what I can do in an entire year or four years with a student.

After school on my last day, I stayed and spoke with my cooperating teacher. I told him how honored I was to have received such an awesome gift from my students. And he said to me, “That’s what it’s all about, Boberg.” I will forever love those students as my first students. Because of them, I feel more prepared to be a teacher on my own. They threw a lot in my direction—some were unmotivated, others were unwilling to see me as the teacher. But no matter what they threw at me, I took it all in stride and I truly believe I reached each and every one of them. Earlier this week, one of the students I struggled with told my cooperating teacher that he missed me. It feels good. It is nice to know that I can make an impact. Sure, I was there to teach agriculture, but more importantly, I was there to lend a hand, encourage, and inspire kids to work harder and challenge themselves every day.

Teaching agriculture is really just bonus to being able to work with students and see that light bulb click on and their eyes light up. I learned many important teaching lessons during my student teaching experience; however, the greatest lesson I learned is teaching is more than instructing students in a subject, it’s really about being a role model and someone your students can count on.


Jennifer Boberg

Gift from 1st Farm Credit establishes Youth Livestock Ambassadors

Apr 22
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Messages and conversations about livestock production and animal management abound in the media, social networks, and even at the family dinner table. Although they may not be taking on the Food Babe or Dr. Oz directly, twenty-one Illinois 4-H members have accepted the challenge to advocate for the livestock industry on behalf of 4-H. A gift from 1st Farm Credit Services to the Illinois 4-H Foundation is making this crusade possible.

As passionate and knowledgeable individuals, it will be their purpose to share accurate information with youth, consumers, and other producers across the state. Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension animal science educator, will provide guidance to the youth team. This effort will further expand the outreach aspect of the University of Illinois College of ACES through this group of youth experts. Jennings anticipates that the team will reach in to metro areas with exhibits and programs, as well as organize a conference event for younger youth later in the year.

The funds provided by 1st Farm Credit will help launch the effort by supporting a leadership development and training program for the youth, as well as the development of marketing materials for their use. The investment will multiply through these young people to impact the livestock industry. Like a ripple effect, the funds to support the youth Livestock Ambassador Team will reach out to the individuals with whom they interact not only today but in the years to come. Perhaps one day, these youth will be the professionals myth busting the likes of Dr. Oz and Food Babe with information based in sound science!

Thank you to 1st Farm Credit for their partnership and to the 21 Illinois 4-H youth for accepting this mission! 1st Farm Credit funding is provided via a donor advised fund with the IAA Foundation. 


Meeting the challenges of the dairy industry

Apr 21
Walt Hurley, Professor of Animal Sciences

Sitting in a classroom, soaking up great knowledge and wisdom from an instructor is something our students do a great deal. Applying that knowledge to real-life situations in order to address serious challenges and problems, and then sharing their findings with the experts, presents our students with unique learning opportunities, as well as testing their ability to think critically and make knowledgeable presentations. Recently several Animal Sciences students did just that when they participated in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge contest in Syracuse, New York. They were competing against 31 other teams from around the country in the demanding two-day event. The team members were Alyssa Brodsky, Claire Nkhikhssi, Samantha Ropp, and Erik Sheppelman, with Courtney Schumacher as an alternate, and coached by Animal Sciences professor Dr. Phil Cardoso, and assisted by graduate student Katie Haerr. Neither Claire nor Alyssa had any previous dairy experience before starting in their animal sciences program. The event challenges the students to analyze and evaluate all facets of a modern working dairy farm and make a comprehensive presentation of their findings and recommendations to a panel of expert judges. No pressure there!

And, how did the team do?  They placed second!  CONGRATULATIONS to the team members and to their coaches.

Dairy students in animal sciences

Certainly looking forward

Apr 15
Shelby Cooper, Senior in Agricultural Science Education

I like to look ahead. I keep dates and assignments in my calendar year-round, and I love having something to look forward to. This summer I’m looking forward to a great job with National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) and traveling with Agriculture Future of America. After that, the next big thing is student teaching in the spring of 2016, and along with that comes a lot of uncertainty.

Every teacher goes through student teaching, the process of preparing lesson plans and assessments, organizing content for a semester of various ag classes, and developing materials to teach science and leadership to classes of high school students. For me, I feel the professors in Agricultural Education have done a great job of preparing my class of students thus far in curriculum, analysis, and reflection. However, there’s only so much they can do. At a certain point, it’s up to us to take on an agriculture program of our own.

That’s where a lot of my uncertainty comes in. Not having come from an agricultural background, it’s true there’s a great deal that I don’t know within the agriculture industry. In terms of teaching, I’ve never taught a semester-long class before, much less 4-6 classes in various agriscience topics. Will I be able to balance my time? Will I be a credible role model for students? Will I ever learn how to weld or judge a dairy cow??

Even with all of the uncertainty that comes with student teaching, I am comforted by my fellow classmates going through the same process. We share the desire to teach, and to teach not only content, but to also inspire purpose and passion for the future of agriculture. I know that when I leave campus to student teach, I will be prepared for the position of ‘Ms. Cooper’ and all the responsibility that comes along with it. The industry relies on educators to prepare the next generation of great minds in innovation and agricultural technology. It’s going to be my job to make connections from agriculture to applicable events in daily life, and create meaningful experiences for high school students. I’m looking forward to it; that, I am certain of.

Honoring the best of the best

Apr 14
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

I’ll admit it. I was taken aback when I walked into the beautiful Pear Tree Estate last evening for the College of ACES and Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards event. The atmosphere was incredible and the efforts of the many people who helped make this event happen did not go unnoticed. Kendra Courson and her special events team did a wonderful job of creating a memorable event to recognize our ACES family.

I was fortunate to sit with two ACES Award of Merit winners who have had a great impact in my life, both personally and professionally – Dan Hoge and Kenna Rathai. Watching them receive their awards and be recognized for their achievements was inspiring.

The videos created by our ACES video team were incredible and provided us a glimpse into the lives and careers of those being honored last evening.

A special congratulations to our Paul A. Funk Recognition Award winners Elvira de Mejia of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Brian Diers of Crop Sciences, and Alan Hansen of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; our Faculty Award for Global Impact winner Karen Chapman-Novakofski of Food Science and Human Nutrition; and the Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award winner Scott Irwin of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

To see a complete list of winners, check out the award website. Videos and photos will be uploaded soon, too!


Funk Awards banquet 2015

Congratulations to State FFA Awards Day Participants

Mar 31
Debra Korte, Teaching Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education

Last weekend, the College of ACES and the Agricultural Education Program hosted 250 of the best and brightest Illinois FFA members for the state record book competition, otherwise known as the State FFA Awards Day. FFA advisors, parents, and volunteers evaluate students’ record books in more than 50 proficiency areas including topics that range from traditional livestock and agronomic enterprises to Agriscience research and sales/entrepreneurial projects. After reviewing the students’ record books, each FFA member is interviewed about their specific project. Following the evaluation process, the judges select the winner in each proficiency area.

Whether they are selected as top individual or simply have the opportunity to participate in the State FFA competition, it is a very rewarding to be part of this experience. For many students, competing as one of the top five individuals in their proficiency area is the culmination of two or three years of work related to a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) program.

SAEs, along with many other FFA opportunities, are part of what make this organization so impactful for more than half a million students nationwide. An FFA member’s SAE is part of the “complete” experience as an FFA member; the other two components are the classroom/laboratory experience and FFA involvement through student, chapter, and community activities.

As I reflect on my years as a high school agriculture teacher, some of my most rewarding memories are when my students competed at the State FFA Awards Day. In a few cases, I was fortunate to see some of these students win their areas and compete on the national level.

Aside from the thrill of competition, it is important to understand there is a story behind every student’s SAE project – a story about their personal background and experiences, a story about their interests and passions, and a story about their future career and aspirations. Even more importantly, behind every FFA member’s story is a young adult who is learning about agriculture, learning the value of serving others, and learning more about themselves as an individual and a future leader.

Career Services

Mar 30
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

During my presentation to prospective students I always include what I jokingly refer to as my “parent slide”. It’s the slide that includes information on the various career services support we provide for our students. While this is something I know that many parents have on their mind regarding their child’s selection of a major and ,more importantly, the jobs that they’ll have after college, I really think it’s something that all of students should be thinking about regardless of parental pressures or not. Illinois is unique in that we offer many “decentralized” support systems, meaning that students can get campus-level services from University-wide units, but also right here in the home departments and at the College of ACES there are resources.

The Career Center

715 S Wright St

Champaign, IL 61820

The Career Center at Illinois the University-level career support office that manages a wide variety of services for our students. They manage all campus career fairs, provide resume writing/critique services, mock interviews, and specialized support for pre-professional track students. Their services take form in drop-in office hours, specific events, and a program that will cater to an event request by a student club, professional society, or an organized group of students.

College of ACES Career Services

115 ACES Library

1101 S Goodwin Ave

Urbana, IL 61801

ACES Career Services is overseen by Director Jean Drasgow (, an ACES alumna herself, and also offers a diverse range of services for students that need some career counseling and support. Express Career advising is offered via drop-in hours (full schedule on their website), tutorials for how to use I-Link, the online job board and career services system used by Illinois, job shadowing events with potential employers, and much more. I encourage all of our students to meet with Jean and start the career counseling conversation early.

NRES Career Bulletin, LinkedIn, and NRES108

Even here at the Department level, we do our part in providing our students with information on employment and career opportunities. Bi-weekly, the NRES Career Bulletin is sent to our students (and interested parties) about a plethora of scholarship information, volunteer opportunities, internship opening, and employment listings related to the NRES field. Additionally, we also host and manage a LinkedIn Group for the greater NRES community (current and past students in addition to faculty and staff) to post relevant opportunities for students and engage with one another; CLICK HERE if you want to join. And if our students need a little more structure than that, we offer an online course every spring titled “Careers in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sciences” (NRES108). Students will improve understanding of their career goals, expand their knowledge of careers available in the NRES field, improve their job searching skills, and develop a plan for pursuing a career. 

ANSC students participate in “Speed Interviewing”

Mar 18
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

Many senior animal sciences students indicate that they need/want more opportunities to practice their interviewing skills. With a course of about 70 enrolled students, it is challenging to offer one-on-one interviews. So, we developed a "speed interviewing" exercise to give them practice being interviewed; to learn how to interview; and to learn how to provide constructive feedback. The exercise, designed by Dr. Hurley, was conducted with the ANSC 498 Integrating Animal Sciences course and offered each student the opportunity to be interviewed twice, as well as to interview six other students. Students rotated each round to ensure different individuals were taking the roles of interviewer and interviewee. After each interview round, the three interviewers would give feedback to the interviewee. At the end of the eight fast rounds, the students were asked to reflect on the exercise. They commented about the good tips that they got from their peers; shared how to better answer challenging questions; and shared particularly good responses and described why they felt so.

The exercise was originally created after a student based survey indicated Animal Science students wanted more practice interviewing.

ANSC students participate in “Speed Interviewing”
Students pictured L-R are: Jacob Standard, Kathryn Polkoff and Taryn Bashing. The student being interviewed is Hayley Cooper.