Appreciating campus

Jul 23
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

It’s hard to believe that my internship with John Deere is more than half over. I really love what I’m doing and I know I’m not out in the ‘real world’ yet, but my experience this summer is definitely making the ‘real world’ seem a lot more welcoming.

This weekend, I was back on campus for Illinois Sights and Sounds video filming and for an orange and blue wedding. Being back on campus for the weekend made me a little giddy for my ‘last first day of class.’ It was pretty warm out, so it made me think of move-in day on my freshmen year and how nervous I was. Heading back for my senior year this fall is a little bit nostalgic, and I have my senior bucket list ready.

While attending the orange and blue wedding on Saturday, I realized that I’ve really only been in one church on campus. One of my new bucket list items is to attend every church on campus this year. I knocked two out this weekend and they were both gorgeous.

I also walked around the Quad on Saturday evening and I realized how much I take for granted the beautiful campus that we have. I think it’s one of those things that you don’t really appreciate until you’re gone for a little while. With all the hustle and bustle of classes, meetings, social events, etc., we sometimes get lost in our own world and forget all of the history and tradition that surrounds us.

As I walked around, I remembered building a snowman in a certain spot, falling on the ice in another, freezing on the front steps of Foellinger in line for The Other Guys Christmas concert, watching the Homecoming pep rally, and of course volunteering for student organizations at Quad Day.

There were quite a few alumni walking around the Quad after the wedding. I heard several of them say how much campus has changed and improved, but how much it has stayed the same. I think our own lives are very similar to the transformations campus has. When we leave Illinois, our lives are changed and improved, but still so much is the same.

As you head to campus this fall, take the time to appreciate what’s around you. The time will fly by faster than you think.


University of Illinois Quad

The Summer 2013 issue is out!

Jul 19
Leann Ormsby, Assistant Dean of Information Technology and Communications Services

The summer 2013 issue of ACES@Illinois is hot off the press!  Be sure to check out this issue of the College of ACES’ premier magazine at I’m always so humbled to read about our amazing ACES students, faculty, staff, and alumni and how they are making an impact both locally and around the world. This issue is a must-read for everyone!


Summer 2013 ACES@Illinois

Animal Care Internship at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Jul 16
Amanda Lehner, Senior in Animal Sciences

I arrived at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute 45 days ago, but it feels like yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect and frankly, neither did anybody else here because I am the first intern of my kind. I am considered a Red Panda Animal Care and Research Intern, so I perform all aspects of daily animal care and husbandry with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s red panda population. The research side of my internship includes monitoring video footage of the red panda nest box cameras, categorizing and organizing video, and learning the basics of endocrine analysis and behavioral observation of red pandas. The best part about it is that I did not learn about all of this until I arrived here on June 1, 2013.

I assumed that because my internship title included red pandas, I would only be working with the red pandas. However, this wasn’t the case. I would also be assisting keepers with clouded leopards, maned wolves, and even domestic cats! I had always heard people that work with animals say that no day was the ever the same and so far, all of my forty-five days have been different from one another. Each day has proven to be physically, as well as intellectually, challenging. During the first half of each day, I prepare animal diets and medications, cut fresh bamboo, thoroughly clean the enclosures, feed the animals, and transport any animals to and from the Vet Hospital on site if necessary. For the second half of my day, I organize and label a whole lot of red panda video footage for three to four hours. I have been doing this for the past 45 days and I am still not even close to being half-way done. It is a very time consuming task, but it is a part of research that everybody has to learn to deal with at some point.

The summer has gone by so fast already and I only have 36 more days left here. After looking back at everything, I have come very far and I am proud of myself for continuing to learn and thrive in all situations that come my way. I am not always perfect, but I always do my best. This way of life has allowed me to excel in a field where many are often overlooked and considered to be a number, rather than a name. After I complete my internship in 36 days, I hope that I will leave here with more knowledge and understanding about the animals and myself.


Amanda Lehner

Interning with Cargill in Minnesota

Jul 15
Mark McKown, Senior in Agricultural Sciences Education with a minor in horticulture

I am seven weeks into my internship and it feels like I started just yesterday. I cannot believe how fast time has gone and how much I have been able to experience. I have travelled to four different states with my internship and countless locations across central and southern Minnesota. My position as a Farm Marketer Intern allows me to experience the sales side of forward marketing. I accompany current Farm Marketers (FM) to meet with farmers and discuss either current contracts sold to Cargill or new contracts they might be interested in looking at to book with Cargill. My specific project, however, is going either alone or with an FM to complete a customer feedback survey. I am responsible for meeting with 20+ customers and presenting my findings to the leadership team for my Farm Service Group.

My office is based out of Hopkins, Minn., which is a suburb of Minneapolis. My apartment is 15 minutes from downtown. Outside of work I have been able to go to $5 Twins MLB games, a local amusement park, and visit some of the 10,000 lakes on the weekends. I also went to my first rodeo this summer and look forward to trying as many new things as I can while I am up here. I have had so much fun and can’t wait to keep trying new things!


Life-changing internships

Jul 15
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

I'm always amazed at the exciting internships our ACES students participate in every year. And this summer is no different. The experiences gained, networks developed, relationships strengthened, and knowledge gained from real-world internships are nothing short of life-changing. I was privileged to have three foundational internships that helped me chart my career and develop into the person I am today. Because of that, I'm constantly listening for and searching out stories about these life-changing experiences in our ACES students. Over the next two months, you'll be able to hear directly from some of our students about their summer internship experiences. I hope you enjoy their firsthand accounts!

Lessons from the kitchen table

Jul 1
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

I grew up in a family where jackets are blue, trucks are red, and tractors are green. Agriculture is our livelihood, hard work builds character, and supporting each other creates success.

I guess you could say that I learned everything I need to know at the kitchen table. I learned that things work better when they’re passed down, that you’d better clean your plate, and that trying new things is a good idea.

When I think back to my time as an FFA member, my days growing up on a family farm, and those lessons I learned at the kitchen table; I am eternally grateful. It’s these lessons and reminders that have helped me to create career success as a college student. I’m now six weeks into my second internship with John Deere. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since last summer, but it’s those three lessons I learned at my family’s kitchen table that remind me of what’s important.

Lesson One: Things work better when they’re passed down.
Passing things down doesn’t always mean you’re getting a ‘hand-me-down.’ To me, passing things down means taking advice from others, learning by observing, and not being afraid to ask questions or seek help. I’ve learned that there are an endless amount of people surrounding me who are more than willing to lend advice, answer my questions, or help me in any way they can.

Lesson Two: You’d better clean your plate.
To me, this means that a job well done is done right the first time. However, sometimes it’s okay to let someone help you clean your plate because teamwork can create a more favorable atmosphere. During my internship, I’ve learned that seeing things through, collaborating, and doing the job right is important.

Lesson Three: Trying new things is a good idea.  
If you don’t take advantage of a new opportunity, someone else will. Being scared to step out of your comfort zone will get you left in the dust. I’ve found that saying yes to new opportunities can take you where you never expected to go, but that’s a good thing.

As the rest of the summer unfolds, I look forward to opportunities to learn, grow, and explore career paths. So far, I’ve tackled a few items on my intern bucket list and I can’t wait to see the rest through.


Ellen Reeder at John Deere Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Des Moines Works. I can accredit this experience to lesson number three.

Experiencing education

Jun 19
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

I was reminded over the weekend how much people value their college days and experiences, especially for those whose blood runs deeply with hues of orange and blue. My wife and I attended a wedding near Peoria for a couple, Jessica and Jay, who were both relatively recent alumni of the University of Illinois and the College of ACES. Parents on both sides were also ACES alumni, as were a host of people in attendance. So there was no lack of Illini reminiscence at our table and many others around the room – some sharing memories from decades past and some from just the past decade.

I was also reminded that the bride had been a student not that long ago in one of our terrific experiential learning opportunities in the College of ACES. Jessica participated in the 2008 International Business Immersion Program that focused on Europe, and I just recently returned from Brazil with the 2012 IBIP class this past Memorial Day weekend. In contrast to basic classroom instruction or rote learning, learning from experience leads to a deeper appreciation for the context of subject matter and sometimes to “eureka” moments of insight. That’s what we try to do in the experiential education programs that form a key component for many of our curricula in ACES. I’ve had the privilege of being involved in several of the IBIP programs in recent years, most recently this year in Brazil.  Upon our return, I was impressed to receive messages from almost all of the students, with sentiments like these: “All in all, it truly was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life so far,”  “I had a wonderful time on the trip and really enjoyed learning all about Brazil and its companies,” or “I am leaving IBIP with much appreciation and knowledge of this industry, and I have IBIP to thank for this.”

Whether it’s immersing in the business cultures of some of the real participants in global agribusiness, participating in a local service learning opportunity, undertaking a capstone design project, or researching a novel question in a world-class laboratory, experience can indeed be the best teacher. Having that experience within a structured learning program often provides the best learning outcome of all, and it doesn’t hurt that Illinois students are noteworthy for their preparation, insightfulness, and professionalism. We hear that a lot from the people in the field who meet and interact with them. 

So I went back to see what Jessica said in 2008, which lends credence to these assertions. She said, “I feel that I grew professionally and now have a better understanding of the how the world works." Incidentally, the father of the groom also contributed mightily to another successful experiential learning program for ACES students in California this past March. So you might say that experiencing education is all in the family, the Illini family!



Welcome to ACES

Jun 18
Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES

It is my pleasure to announce two new department heads in the College of ACES. Dr. Sharon (“Shelly”) M. Nickols-Richardson begins her tenure as Head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition on July 1. She will also hold a tenured appointment as Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She comes to us from the Pennsylvania State University where she is a Professor of Nutritional Sciences and heads the graduate program in this area. She began her career as a Registered Dietician, serving as a clinical dietician and, later, chief of dietetic services at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Columbia, MO. She then earned her doctorate at the University of Georgia before launching her professorial career at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 

Dr. Nickols-Richardson is best known for her research on life span nutrition, bone health and nutritional assessment and therapy and is currently leading a multi-million dollar grant sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) aimed at preventing childhood obesity. Her publication record and supervision of graduate research is outstanding. She has served as associate editor for the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences. She has long been an active contributor to the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and held the role of President. She is a model educator and in 2006 was awarded the Early Career Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.  
Dr. Susan Silverberg Koerner begins her tenure as Head of the Department of Human and Community Development, effective August 16. She is currently the Fitch Nesbitt Professor in the Division of Family Studies and Human Development in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at the University of Arizona. She also serves as the Director of the Graduate Studies for that unit.

After receiving her Ph.D. in Child and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she served as a postdoctoral research fellow in Berlin, Germany, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Her career at the University of Arizona began in 1990 as an assistant professor. She is best known for her research on parent-adolescent relationships, and the emotional and physical stress among family caregivers to those who are aging or ill (both Hispanic and non-Hispanic families). Her publication record and supervision of graduate research is outstanding. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Family Relations and the Journal of Research on Adolescence, and is the reviewer for many scholarly journals.

We are delighted that they will be joining the ACES family and look forward to their leadership in our college.


Blue and Gold Reflections

Jun 14
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

I just returned from three days at the Illinois FFA Convention in Springfield, and what a wonderful time it was! From a professional standpoint, the convention is a perfect time to visit with teachers and students and showcase everything ACES has to offer. The college is committed to supporting the FFA organization through scholarships to FFA alumni who pursue a major in the College of ACES, support from our Agricultural Education program, which provides resources to teachers and prepares the next generation of FFA advisors, as well as service to the organization in a variety of ways. Many student leaders in FFA become leaders in our college, and we are thankful for the role that the FFA organization plays in promoting agricultural education and training young people.

This year, we were once again very proud to see two of our incoming freshmen elected to a major state office. Rachel Hawk, from Aledo, IL, was elected Vice President, and August Schetter, from Brighton, IL, was elected Reporter. Although it means they won’t be joining our freshman class until next fall, we’re still very excited to see two future Illini in their blue and gold jackets, continuing to serve the Illinois FFA organization for another year. Congratulations to Rachel and August!

Attending the FFA convention as a professional is routine for me, but this year I also attended as the very proud parent of an FFA member. My daughter played in the state FFA band, and it was a joy to watch them perform and to know that she has the chance to benefit from the organization that has meant so much to so many. I am indebted to the FFA for the service they provide to our state and nation, and for the opportunities they provide young people. Thanks Blue and Gold!

FFA Band

Saluting Agriculture

Jun 13
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

For many years now, an Illini football weekend has been the backdrop to give respect and honor to our agricultural industry and heritage. It’s also been an opportunity to create awareness of the contributions of agriculture to Illinois and to provide a gathering place for many of the leaders in Illinois agriculture. Now called Salute to Agriculture, this tailgate celebration of Illinois agriculture, coupled with an Illini pep rally, evolved from the Illini Pork Days of the past. Salute to Agriculture is a fun Saturday with an opportunity for Illini faithful, alumni, university VIPs, and the best of Illinois agriculture to rub shoulders with one another AND to show Illinois students and prospective students the great opportunities that exist for them going forward in agriculture.

Last year, Salute to Agriculture had a great turnout on a beautiful September morning. This year promises to be the same. On Saturday, September 7, the College of ACES invites you and your friends, family, and the outstanding students from your community to attend the annual Salute to Agriculture Day event at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Meet us in the big tent outside of the State Farm Center (Assembly Hall) from 9-11 a.m. for a great pre-game event!
Prior to watching the Fighting Illini take on the Cincinnati Bearcats, you will enjoy an amazing event, including the chance to meet U of I President Bob Easter and legendary agribusiness broadcaster Orion Samuelson. You can also meet faculty, staff and some of our ACES students, while enjoying a breakfast of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and L.A. Gourmet signature cinnamon rolls.  

For the jam-packed Salute to Agriculture tailgate event that morning, adult tickets are $15 and student tickets are $10. You can also enjoy the football game as part of the Salute to Agriculture block in the legendary Memorial Stadium for only $20 per ticket. You can’t go wrong that early in the season.


Salute to Ag Day