A bittersweet goodbye

Aug 21
Amanda Lehner, Senior in Animal Sciences

As I am approaching the final day of my internship, I am realizing how much I have accomplished during my 81 days here at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. I never like to waste a day so life here consists of cleaning, feeding, and performing all aspects of clouded leopard and red panda care and husbandry, documentation and diet preparation. I have helped capture and restrain animals for transfer, loading and shipping or for medical procedures. I have also provided assistance with medical treatments and diagnostics for injured or sick animals in the collection. All of this, I am going to leave behind tonight to return back home.

Leaving here is most definitely a bittersweet moment. I know it will be great to reunite with family and friends but I am going to miss this place a whole lot more than I expected. I will no longer be waking up every day to help with the clouded leopards and red pandas. It will be back to my “normal” life which consists of school, work, and sometimes, social events if I can find the time. I knew the span of my internship wasn’t going to be more than three months so I mentally prepared myself for goodbyes. But, aside from the animals, I am really going to miss the people here who have taught me so much. They have taught me that I can keep going long after I can’t and that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. Most importantly though, I have learned that life is short so do what you love and the money will follow.


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Another year begins

Aug 21
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

I sent my daughter off to her first day of second grade today. As I contemplated the opportunities that lie ahead for her, I thought back to the comments shared at Agronomy Day by Illini men’s basketball coach, John Groce.

Coach Groce was accompanied last week by his mother and stepfather, plus his fifth-grade teacher and Happy Farmer’s 4-H club leader, Janet Stephenson. Groce says he can easily name his top five teachers from kindergarten through college – and Mrs. Stephenson made the list for her compassion and unconditional care for every student.

Groce says his teacher’s compassion had a big impact in his life and has carried into his coaching style. He believes that the College of ACES and the Illinois basketball program share that same goal – to create impact.

Groce feels at home at Illinois – one of the world’s greatest universities – because its people care, he says. They want to help. They want to give back. They want to make a difference.

In ACES, we are motivated to help solve the world’s most critical challenges because our college is full of passionate faculty, staff, and students who really do care about the next generation and what they will leave behind.

Groce ended his keynote with a few thoughts that have stayed with me. He said, “I hope you will find something you are so passionate about that it lights your fire every day. Everything you do matters. You are exchanging a day of your life for this. What did you do? Who did you impact?”

To me, one of the best things we can achieve is to uncover our purpose in life. It’s exciting to think about all of the new faces who will walk in to ACES classrooms next week, starting the journey to discover their purpose.

Although second-grader Olivia has a few more years before she gets to that stage, I couldn’t help but smile as we discussed how fast the summer went and how it won’t be long before she’s in college.

“I do want to be an Illini someday,” Olivia said, “but for now, I just want to be a little kid.”

Thanks for the reminder, Olivia. You’re right – you’ve got some time.


Coach John Groce at Agronomy Day

Another great Illinois State Fair in the books

Aug 20
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs
The College of ACES had a great day at the Illinois State Fair.  It was a great opportunity to interact with many of our friends from various industries and organizations, and seeing the fair with Dean Hauser, Chancellor Wise, President Easter and other administrators and staff from the College of ACES was a unique and very enjoyable experience.  We need to continue to highlight the importance of agriculture and provide information about the role the College of ACES plays in the state, region, nation and world.  Agriculture Day at the State Fair is provides a great platform, and we're grateful to all who planned and participated!

ACES students interning at GROWMARK

Aug 15
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

I had the pleasure of attending GROWMARK’s summer intern conclusion meeting last week and had the opportunity to see some of our students. Each student completed a 12-week internship with GROWMARK and concluded their experience with a 15-minute presentation on their project.

Growmark had 61 interns from the United States and Canada.Their projects included: “Optimizer” by Cody Pettit; “Heritage FS Rev!ID Crop Scouting” by Brad Bernhard; “Marketing in a Diverse Co-Op” by Courtney Niemann; “XRS: Fleet Optimization Technology” by Josh Burns; and “Undercover Intern & wEBS: I Can Do Better” by Andrew McCarty.

Pictured l to r are L-R Andrew McCarty, Courtney Niemann, Brad Bernhard, Cody Pettit, and Josh Burns.

FSHN goes to Chicago for IFT

Aug 15
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Students, faculty and staff from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) recently attended the annual Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Annual Meeting at McCormick Place in Downtown Chicago. The IFT is the largest non-profit professional organization for the advancement of food science and technology in the world. At IFT’s Annual Meeting, top professionals come together during IFT’s Annual meeting to breakdown insights into the latest scientific developments, the newest innovations and the hottest trends.

Many students who attended shared their Technical Research Paper abstract at IFT’s Scientific Program Poster Session. Students were able to share research they had conducted in the department with business professionals and industry leaders; a truly unique and exciting opportunity. Students also had the chance to network with Illini FSHN Alumni at the Illinois Reception, which was attended by over 150 alumni, students and faculty. The students’ involvement was made possible by Kellogg’s.

As exciting as the Institute of Food Technologists Meeting was FSHN students, we were also able to bring students from the College of ACES Research Apprenticeship Program to the Food Expo floor, where they met with and learned about prominent food industry companies and the latest advancements in the field. The IFT Food Expo is the industry’s largest collection of food ingredients, equipment, processing and packaging suppliers under one roof, with hundreds of businesses sharing their advances in food science and human nutrition.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition had a great presence at the IFT Annual Meeting. I am thankful for all of the students who represented us well, and for the faculty and staff who put so much time and effort into making it a successful event.


Fun at the Fair

Aug 14
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

Yesterday, I attended Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair. It was the first time in 20-plus years I’ve been to the State Fair, and It. Was. Awesome!!! Highlights of my day included: milking a cow, petting a bunny in the FFA barn, meeting Senator Mike Frerichs, having my picture taken with the reigning Miss Illinois County Fair Queen (and ACES Alum) Amelia Martens, tasting wine with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, viewing the famous Butter Cow, meeting several of our incoming students looking quite impressive in their various leadership regalia, viewing newborn piglets, meeting lots of ACES alums, checking out the horses and gear involved in a top-award winning harness racing team, and eating a delicious elephant ear and some fried cheese curds. The State Fair is incredible!

Kathy Martensen, Amelia Martens and Holly Herrerra
Assistant Dean Kathy Martensen (left), Amelia Martens (center) and Holly Herrera (right) catch up during Agriculture Day at the 2013 Illinois State Fair.

Milk-a-Cow at the State Fair

Aug 14
Walt Hurley, Professor of Animal Sciences

It's Illinois State Fair time. The Illini Dairy Club has put on the Milk-A-Cow booth for more than 25 years. Thursday, August 8, was set-up day for the booth. Erik Sheppelman, a sophomore in Animal Sciences, is taking the lead on the booth this year. Two of his friends came out to help set-up. Members of our farm crew delivered the truck of supplies. And, Gene McCoy and myself were there to assist. Cleaning up the area, unloading the truck with feed, straw and other supplies, laying down the mats, putting up the decorations and display boards, preparing for the later arrival of the cows, were all accomplished in efficient order. The booth opened the next day. Many other club members will be working at the booth during the fair. Typically there are around 7,000 children and adults who milk-a-cow during the fair week, many for the first time and some that come back year after year. Each milker gets the “I Milk A Cow” button and a milk coupon, and goes away with a smile on their face.

I Milked A Cow Button

Paris of the South

Aug 14
Meredith Blumthal, Director of ACES Education Abroad Program

They say that Buenos Aires is often considered the Paris of the South. I can't say that I disagree after my recent visit.

BA (as those in the know refer to Argentina's capital city) is full of interesting neighborhoods filled with cafes serving alfajores and espressos or cafe con leche. Standard breakfast fare is a croissant known as a medialuna often smothered with dulce de leche and for dinner, it's beef de chorizo, a truly mouthwatering experience. Besides eating my way through Argentina, I recently had the pleasure of visiting three universities – two of which will be new partners for ACES.

Next summer students can study at the University of Buenos Aires in a program which combines beginning Spanish and courses in agribusiness, crop sciences, and natural resources in English. Another exciting new program will launch for the 2014 spring semester in Mendoza, Argentina, where students will study wine production, water resource management, population ecology, agribusiness and more (in English) while taking Spanish language courses. Mendoza is home to the famous Malbec wine production region and opportunities for non-paid internships on wineries is an optional program extra.

 Wine production in Mendoza
Wine production in Mendoza.

To cross from Mendoza, Argentina, into Chile, you fly over the Andes Mountains which are the longest continental mountain range in the world. The Andes form the spine of Latin America, connecting and separating countries (running through a total of seven) and in particular, the two I was visiting. Coming from the flatlands of Illinois, this was an amazing experience to see via plane (and because it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere I nearly missed my plane from Mendoza to Concepcion, Chile due to snow!). For me, there is something intoxicating about the Andes. My first encounter with these mountains was during field research in Ecuador during graduate school. As we flew over the mountains, I could not help but keep my eyes glued to the window.

The next stop was Universidad del Bio Bio in Concepcion, Chile. This was my first time in Chile and I was not disappointed. ACES students will have opportunities to study the Spanish language and take a course on LEAN manufacturing systems this summer at Universidad del Bio Bio.

With more than 400 programs in more than 60 countries, it's hard to know where the right place to study abroad might be. But, one thing is for certain, everyone in ACES has the opportunity to study abroad. The right place may just not be what you were expecting.

View of the Andes Mountain Crossing
View of the Andes Mountains Crossing



Enjoying agriculture at the state fair

Aug 13
Jason Emmert, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs

Agriculture Day at the 2013 Illinois State Fair has been even more fun than ever. I just ran into Amelia Martens, the 2013 Illinois State Fair Queen and a May 2013 graduate of ACES. Amelia is an outstanding representative for agriculture, not to mention U of I and ACES. She is a terrific role model for young people, and is using her opportunity to promote agriculture to a wide variety of audiences. We could not more proud!

Amelia Martens

Time flies when you're having fun

Aug 13
Mark McKown, Senior in Agricultural Sciences Education with a minor in horticulture
Well, I'm in my final week with Cargill. I only have a few more days of my summer in the city. I still can’t believe all that I was able to experience with accepting an internship offer with Cargill. I learned so much. Whether it was driving down the back, country road to a farm shed to meet with a customer or attending a sales meeting in downtown Minneapolis at a hotel that was far fancier than I usually stay, I had an amazing time. The people I worked with, however, are the reason I had such an awesome experience. Although I didn’t do everything right, I was definitely able to learn from mistakes and execute on what was most effective and efficient for the business. Just last week I presented all of my findings from the data I gathered to the leadership team to provide positive and constructive feedback on what was working well and what to improve upon. To say ‘time flies when you’re having fun,’ is an understatement. I will greatly miss my new friends and coworkers. This summer has been one for the records and will certainly not be forgotten.