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

A Midwest summer dream

Jun 13
Meg Cline, Associate Dean of Advancement

Catching fireflies, fishing, the smell of the corn growing, weeding the garden, picking strawberries, campfires, fairs, spitting watermelon seeds, preparing livestock for show, playing flashlight tag, camping – these are all fond memories of my childhood being raised on a farm in central Illinois. It is funny how the little things seem to frame our childhood experiences.

This week, my husband and I had the opportunity to give our daughter a great summer experience for her childhood memory book brought to her by University of Illinois Extension - 4-H Memorial Camp at Allerton Park. This gem hosts thousands of youth ages 8 - 16 each summer to enjoy numerous activities and embrace 4-H’s “learning by doing” methods. If you are not familiar with 4-H Memorial Camp, you should check it out at  web.extension.illinois.edu/4hmemorialcamp/.  For more than 60 years, youth have benefitted from this treasure – thanks in large part to the dedicated staff led by Curt Sinclair, families who have sent their children year-after-year, and the many donors who give to ensure the 4-H Memorial Camp experience continues for generations to come.

The energy and excitement leading up to camp in our household was undoubtedly on par with a trip to Disney World – in fact, it might have been greater! Upon arrival at camp, Anna Kate was quickly greeted and directed to her cabin, where she and her camping buddy, Emily, became fast friends with their bunk mates! While parents might have had apprehensions about leaving them behind – the kids couldn’t wait to get mom and dad down the road so the adventures of summer camp could begin!  

Thank you Illinois 4-H for making this experience available to my child and to so many others. In a world where so much changes so rapidly, the opportunity to give children those lifelong childhood memories that will become a part of their personal life story are priceless.


4-H Camp Memories

Preparing for fall

Jun 10
Marla Todd, Associate Director of Advancement Communications

Even though many of our current outstanding ACES students have gone home for the summer, this month the College of ACES is busy preparing for a new generation of students to arrive in the fall. New Students in ACES are spending a summer day preparing for their first year during the student orientation program, set up specifically to welcome them into the family.

Many outstanding faculty and staff are working hard to ensure that this transition happens smoothly and effectively. Incoming students first meet with fellow University of Illinois students from departments all across campus. Then, the College of ACES brings them together to introduce them to staff, talk about the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead of them, and introduce them to ACES faculty. After the ACES community meeting, the students are then divided by department, where they learn about classes, expectations, and opportunities through their selected major. They also prepare for their arrival in August, discussing living arrangements, student services and even scheduling their first semester of classes.

For students entering the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Terri Cummings, Director of Student Services, is the welcome crew with a wealth of information. She has been welcoming new students to the department, offering advice, working with students to develop a schedule that fits their needs and even sharing with them some success stories of students she’s worked with before.

Terri offered some great advice to students during the orientation program. She said, “While you are all successful students, you will need to make sure you stay focused on your studies here on campus.”

As an academic advisor, Terri also mentioned the importance of students checking their campus email regularly, as important information will be sent often during the summer to prepare students for a successful education through the College of ACES. Summer will go quickly and the class of 2017 will be on campus soon!


Terri Cummings meeting with students

Excited is an understatement

May 23
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

The only word that can describe how ecstatic I was to start my internship with John Deere last Monday is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. In fact, I was so ready that I set my alarm clock wrong and woke up an hour early on my first day.

Over the weekend, I took a little break between classes and my internship. I’ve been helping on the farm with planting, running lunch to the field, and catching up on the in between. I’ve really enjoyed helping on the farm and it’s been nice to have some downtime, but I’ve missed being busy every second. I am looking forward to a fast-paced summer full of new adventures, learning, and a little switch from orange and blue to green and yellow.

So this begins my fairytale summer at the Rusty Palace, otherwise known as John Deere World Headquarters.

John Deere Headquarters

Olá Illini!

May 20
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development
Illini, Illini everywhere. Our alma mater was well represented in São Paulo, Brazil this week. Brazilian alumni gathered on Monday evening to reconnect with one another and students from three study abroad programs. Whether our international alumni earned their bachelor, master, PhD, MBA, or LLM degrees at Illinois, there is a genuine fondness among this group for the University and the memories of Urbana-Champaign. It was really great for our current students to meet professional people from Brazil with ties to U of I. We have 24 undergraduate students in the International Business Immersion Program (ACE/BADM 436) this year, plus an intern and a graduate student, and they were joined on Monday night by students from Crop Sciences and the College of Business James Scholars. I may be biased, but our students from the IBIP always shine – and this year was no exception. They represent the future of the Illini nation and do it fabulously. The students send a shout-out to Professor Peter Goldsmith, who prepared them well for their inaugural experience in Brazil, but who was unable to come along this time. They miss you, Pete!
Illini in Brazil at IBIP

Not an everyday opportunity

May 20
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

It’s not every day that you get to eat dinner at the University of Illinois President’s House and it’s not every day that you get to be surrounded by so many successful alumni. But, when you’re a student in the College of ACES, anything is possible. I feel so lucky to be a member of the ACES Student Advancement Committee because I have opportunities like this knocking at my door.

As a student, I can’t even begin to express how lucky I feel to be attending the University of Illinois while Bob Easter is serving as President and Phyllis Wise is serving as Chancellor. They made it apparent at the ACES in Places event last week that the College of ACES is at the top of their list because of the impact that global agriculture has and will have in the future.

As I sat there at dinner on Thursday night and looked around, I realized that our college is great for a lot of reasons, but the number one reason is the people. People like President Easter who have made our college a better place and continue to do so for the future.

SAC at Illinois