Happy 25th Anniversary, RAP!

Apr 24
Maxine Roman, RAP alum 2003, 2004, 2005
When I started high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my career. Then one day, my high school guidance counselor suggested that I apply for the Research Apprentice Program (RAP) at the University of Illinois. I was a bit skeptical because I didn’t really know what agricultural sciences meant, but since it was the only free summer program that I had heard of tailored for students interested in science, I decided to apply.

Little did I know of the significance RAP would have in my life. When I participated in the program’s individual research component, I conducted research in a lab of food chemistry under the guidance of Dr. Elvira de Mejia. I discovered a passion for food science that has driven me for the past decade to my current position as a PhD candidate in food science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

RAP allowed me to hone my academic and leadership skills while working on projects that most students wouldn’t have the opportunity to be involved with until graduate school. I have no doubt that RAP was essential to making me a college applicant who stood out among a very competitive student body. The enthusiastic faculty and staff that I met through RAP have connected me to countless leadership, scholarship, and internship prospects. More significantly, I found an exceptional group of friends and mentors who fostered my growth while I was a student at the University of Illinois and became like a family to me. To this day, I can rely on them for support and motivation.

Happy 25th anniversary, RAP!

Reflections from Four Years Out

Apr 23
Manuel Colón, NRES Student Recruitment Coordinator

“Why am I learning this?”

“When will I ever use this in the real world?”

“How will this help me in my future career?”

These and many more are common questions heard throughout college classes across campus and other educational institutions. This May will mark four years since my graduation from the College of ACES. It’s an interesting threshold to arrive at, as it marks a transition to a time where I’ll have spent more time OUT of college then I have spent in college. But, what I find more meaningful in my reflection post-undergrad is thinking about all of the skills that I did develop in the course of my studies here at Illinois that are still applicable today. Here are a few:


As part of my Field Experience course requirements, I took a class on Survey Research Methods. I initially thought “We only have to write a survey? What a breeze!” and very early on in the class did I realize just how much thought and processing has to go into asking the “right” questions for research and general good practices. It pushed and challenged me to think critically of how I ask for information and also how I responded to questionnaires and surveys in the past. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, this was a critical skill to have when doing community assessments or even volunteer satisfaction surveys.  It’s very easy to write off surveys as just a series of random questions. However, understanding the nuances of in-person surveys versus anonymous surveys or the complexity and depth of how you frame certain questions are really critical in making sure the answers you get will actually be productive to your end goal. Even as I work with undergraduates or prospective students, I still think about what I learned in NRES 285 in the Fall of 2008 and it’s really helpful.


Integrative Ecosystem Management (NRES 456) is a senior capstone course where we analyze different management styles and work on case studies to develop our own management plans for randomly assigned areas. This class is clearly targeted towards the management of natural resources, but the skills are completely transferable. Every project that I work on, I challenge myself to identify the variety of stakeholders, develop clear goals, periodically measure progress, and reevaluate the project as a whole as necessary. When working in conservation education and sustainable development, this was an invaluable skill to have when I wanted to be to secure a certain project’s success even in my absence.

I can list many other examples of collegiate coursework that has continued to serve me well in the “real” world. However, what I want to convey is that when you are enrolled in such applied and practical programs that the College of ACES offers, there is never a doubt that if what we are learning is valuable and useful.

Student's Restaurant Dream Comes True

Apr 22
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Eric Langenfeld's dream to have his own restaurant came true on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 5 p. m. when the doors opened to America’s Street Fair in the Spice Box at Bevier Hall.  Eric is a senior studying hospitality management and the following is a blog of his reflections from his capstone project.

The night was a tour of tastes across the United States.  The night started with the grilled sandwiches from Oregon to the papaya salad from the San Francisco to the entrees from Miami to the Dessert Dog from Chicago. Those people who saved room for dessert were in for a real treat that was an idea created from an intern group I was a part of over the summer.  The idea was a gourmet dessert dog with a french toast style bun, a roasted banana, berries, whip cream and chocolate.  I took on the challenge of taking that dessert from just an idea to actually putting it on a plate.  For me, the good sign was every dessert plate going back empty.  My classmates did an excellent job with their courtesy and speed of service and no customers had major complaints.  

Before 5 p. m. hit, there were a few minor roadblocks in the kitchen but we were able to come up with proper solutions and learn from them.  I wanted to challenge myself with this meal so I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  This was an amazing opportunity and I could not have been happier with what I learned from this meal.

The list of people I need to thank is very large because this meal was inspired and executed by so many individuals.  I have been talking over ideas for my meal with people for over two years now and my meal has developed and grown from all those ideas.  First, I would like to thank all the guests who attended my meal because my motivation was to put smiles on your faces and have you enjoy a relaxing night out in our home. I would especially like to thank President Bob Easter and his wife Cheryl for attending my meal.  I sat behind them at Illini basketball games this year, and during our last home game against Michigan, I gave them a personal invitation to my meal because of their positive influence on my education.  I was lucky enough to speak with Dr. and Mrs. Easter during my Sophomore year after I decided I would be switching into hospitality management.  He truly motivated me with is passion and dedication for education and his past work in the College of ACES has greatly affected where our program is today.  

I would also like to thank my guest chef Ben Werner for all his help with menu development and testing and also for smoothly executing the kitchen operations during dinner service.  Additionally, I would like to thank Kathleen Hudson and Jeremiah Murphy, my service and production managers, for all their help preparing and executing the meal.  They both paid attention to small details ahead of time so the night was able to run smoothly and successfully.  Thank you to everyone who was a part of this truly memorable night.


Something Bigger Than Yourself

Apr 21
Regan Emkes, Senior in Agricultural Communications

April has really become the month, for me, where all of those privileges at the University of Illinois shed light on the bigger picture. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to better myself in professional and personal development categories, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve really learned that being an ACES student is about becoming something bigger than myself.

I got to travel to Jacksonville, Florida, with University of Illinois NAMA to compete in the National Agri-Marketing Association conference April 8th-11th. The U of I NAMA team had made it into the top 6 two out of the three years they’d been in competition so the pressure was really on for us this year.

Months of preparation came down to 4 days in Florida and we were ready to rock. I was honored to be one of seven on the presentation team this year and while I was nervous I would mess everything up, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming excitement to be a part of something this huge! I’ve been on many teams in the past but I have never felt more part of a team, where everyone is working in harmony and feeding off of each other’s excitement towards one goal, than I did in the moments before presenting in Jacksonville. Our excitement, confidence and dedication landed us a 3rd place finish among 30 teams, improving from 4th place last year and 6th place in 2012. Not too shabby!

Teamwork does not just stop with the NAMA Conference though. It carries on throughout the whole college. April also happens to be the kick-off month for I Pay It Forward. I am 100% excited about this program and all the hard work that has gone into making it happen. The experiences at U of I, specifically the College of ACES, are ones that before August I could only dream of. This program is absolutely fantastic because it gives students an opportunity to give back so that potential students have the chance to experience all that ACES has to offer while assisting them with the financial burden of paying for school. Every little bit donated helps to make the difference for someone else.

Being an ACES student is really all about being open to taking part in something that is bigger than just you. You’ll get personal and professional development here, no doubt. But what is going to go the extra mile is what you’ve done to help other people and there are plenty of opportunities to make that difference. We’re leaving a lasting impression here on this college and they don’t just end when we graduate. This is a dynasty of excellence. Make sure you’re a part of it.

The 2014 NAMA team took 3rd place in Jacksonville.

The Autism Program @ Illinois: Much more than awareness

Apr 16
Linda Tortorelli, Coordinator of The Autism Program

The Center for Disease Control recently found that the prevalence of autism is 1 in 68, and 1 in 42 for boys. As people become more aware of the symptoms of autism, their sense of frustration often grows with the lack of knowledge that is actually known about the disorder. The Autism Program (TAP)of Illinois Service Network serves and supports persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) their families and professionals who work with people who have ASD. TAP provides a variety of resources and services to assist people along their journey.

The TAP center at U of I offers a Family and Community Resource Room located at 904 W. Nevada in Christopher Hall. We are open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Saturday mornings when students are in session. We have books, videos, tip sheets and visual aids available for checkout.  Trained staff are available to assist you in locating the resources that will be most helpful to you, and can provide assistance in developing visual tools designed to meet your needs. On April 25, we will be offering a full-day workshop on Structured Teaching which is a strategy that helps people with autism understand what is expected of them.

In addition to our resource room, we offer social skill groups, trainings and specialized consultations. If you are looking for resources or if you are just interested in learning more about autism, come by and check us out! We are also on facebook (TAP-UIUC Champaign Urbana) and our webpage, theautismprogram.illinois.edu, has many great resources. We are located at 904 W. Nevada, Urbana, in Christopher Hall. Please feel free to contact us at 217.244.1395, theautismprogram@illinois.edu. We are always happy to hear from you!


ACES International Lecture features Lenton to highlight water insecurity on April 17

Apr 14
Leslie Sweet Myrick, Office of International Programs Media Communications Specialist

Since its inception in 2002, the ACES International Lecture series brings distinguished speakers to discuss international experiences and issues at the University of Illinois. Keeping with this tradition, this semester’s lecture on April 17 will feature one of the world’s foremost experts in water management and development, Dr. Roberto Lenton, who serves as the founding executive director of the Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska.

Water scarcity is a growing constraint on production and an increasing source of conflict around the world, so the Lenton lecture is extremely timely. Agriculture now consumes 70 percent of the world’s freshwater resources and up to 90 percent of India and China’s freshwater resources. Not surprisingly considering these percentages, the quantity of water is insufficient to sustain current rates of use in many regions of the world, and poor water quality frequently contributes to losses in human and environmental health.  

A citizen of Argentina with degrees from the University of Buenos Aires and MIT, Dr. Lenton is a co-author of Applied Water Resources Systems and a co-editor of Health, Dignity and Development: What will it take?–the final report of the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, which he co-chaired. He has worked for the World Bank, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the United Nations Development Programme.  

Lenton’s Water for Food Institute is “committed to ensuring a water and food secure world without compromising the use of water for other human and environmental needs.”

Positioned as another global leader in this arena, the College of ACES shares the same goals as Lenton and his institute in combating issues of water insecurity, using interdisciplinary and international collaborations to find innovative ways to solve real-world problems.

We in OIP look forward to hearing Lenton’s insights, gained over his more than 40 years of experience, on water, food, and international development. Please join us at noon this coming Thursday in the College of ACES Library’s Heritage Room to learn more about this critical topic.   


Dr. Roberto Lenton

Dr. Steve Loerch joins the ACES family

Apr 10
Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES

Dr. Steve Loerch just finished up his first month on campus as the Professor and Head of the Department of Animal Sciences. He is a Pennsylvania native who received his bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and his master’s (1978) and PhD (1981) degrees from the University of Illinois. He was a member of the faculty at The Ohio State University for 30 years, where he had a distinguished career in teaching and research.
Steve Loerch’s research career at Ohio State featured more than 132 peer-reviewed publications and over $3.5 million in funding from federal and industry sources in the last 10 years. He has received numerous awards and honors for teaching and research, culminating in 2013 with the American Society of Animal Science Research Fellow Award.  His ability to investigate basic biological processes and apply them to industry production scenarios has been a strong point of his research.

He has distinguished himself in his instructional programs with extremely high and consistent reviews over a variety of courses for many years; the development of capstone learning activities for undergraduates in Animal Sciences; and a strong contingent of graduate students who have continued with great success in academia and commercial companies in agriculture.

Off campus, he is an instrumental member of national research committees and has been an invited speaker throughout Central and South America.

Please help me welcome Dr. Steve Loerch into the ACES family.

Dr. Steve Loerch

ACE 199: Spring Break in Washington D.C.

Apr 3
Lucas Frye, Senior in Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Last week, myself and 18 other College of ACES students took off towards a nontraditional spring break destination- Washington D.C.  Over the course of seven days, we were immersed within the scenery and lifestyle of our nation's capital through the Ag Policy and Leadership class.  Leading up to the trip we had been researching and providing mock testimonies on many of the current issues surrounding agriculture.  

Upon our arrival we made stops at regulation agencies from the EPA to the USDA, business governmental affair offices from Monsanto to Mondelez, and trade organizations like the American Farm Bureau and the Renewable Fuels Association.  Midweek we battled snowy conditions while waiting for a tour of the White House- it was well worth it though.  

We were also fortunate to meet with numerous past and present congressional and cabinet leaders including Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.  We wrapped up the week by visiting our own congressional district offices.  

One of the highlights, for many, was the opportunity, Monsanto afforded us, to attend the premiere showing of the documentary Farmland- which will hit theaters later this month highlighting the challenges of young farmers and ranchers across the country. 

As a class, we certainly have to give a big shout-out to our instructors: Mr. Jon Scholl and Jessa Barnard as well as Professor Jonathan Coppess for utilizing their own personal connections as well as the University of Illinois network to put together the packed and eye-opening agenda we experienced.  

I have been blessed, over the last couple years, to be involved with a few of these experiential learning courses that the ACE department offers, and every time I find myself taken aback by the places and people we are able to meet with- a definite testimony to the phenomenal opportunities in ACES. 

ACE 199 students with Farm Bureau President, Bob Stallman

Mom's Weekend & Graduation

Apr 2
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

April is quite possibly my favorite month of the year. Not only is my Birthday in April, but Mom’s Weekend also falls during this wonderful month. Hopefully it’s safe to say that spring has finally arrived too!

It’s hard to believe that this will be the last Mom’s Weekend that we participate in. I’m bound and determined to make it the best one yet! In past years, we’ve shopped, attended awards banquets, visited wineries, gone to the flower show, attended Sigma Alpha sorority breakfasts, and had a lot of fun during the in between time!

This year, our schedule looks pretty jam-packed because there is so much to fit in during this last weekend on campus together. I’m not sure who is more excited for Friday to get here, my Mom or I?

As I continue to count down the days until graduation, it's hard to believe that after Mom's Weekend is over there are only 40 days left on campus. These next two months are full of formals, final projects, friends, and a trip to Florida with NAMA. The reality of how close graduation is didn't really hit me until I was putting things away after buying groceries. The fact that items in the fridge share the same expiration date as graduation is just a bit unreal to me. I'll be sad to see it go, but I'm excited to start a new chapter!

Cooking the Sierra Leonean Way!

Apr 1
Oliver Ferguson, International Programs Coordinator

This post was contributed by Cortney Eisenmann, who is a junior in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Cortney is spending this semester at Njala University, participating in the University of Illinois’ Global Health and Nutrition Program.

Rosie is the head of the home science department at Njala University. Anne Kelly (ACE) went to her house to learn how to cook the Sierra Leone way. Anne and I are at Njala University as a part of the University of Illinois’ semester abroad programs. I am studying Global Health and Nutrition and Anne is studying International Development and Agribusiness.

We learned to make cake, rice, and fish stew. We had to descale and clean fish, cut and clean eggplant, and pound/grind the pepper and onions. The cake was baked in a charcoal oven, and the stew and rice were cooked over the fire. . We both learned a lot, and had fun doing it.

For more information about studying abroad in Sierra Leone, see ace.illinois.edu/sierraleone.