Sharing what they learned

Jan 3
Walt Hurley, Professor of Animal Sciences

The game show host wore a sports jacket, jeans, and a HUGE red bow tie. The water chemist came dressed in a large rubber apron and goggles, while the farmer sported a more traditional John Deere hat. The fish did double duty as a scientist. And the cow, call her 9017, had on white slacks and a white top, both covered with large black spots. Her headband with pink ears looked more like those of a cat, but one ear had a large yellow tag with her number. During that game show, this group of students educated their audience about the sources and effects of man-made estrogenic substances in the environment.

In another group, students took on the role of an animal species and developed a short poem about the effects of environmental estrogen on their character. Still other groups developed skits that examined management of dairy farm wastewater, bioconversion of estrogen in the environment, detection of environmental estrogen, the regulation of dairy wastewater, and other related topics.

These students in ANSC 498 – Integrating Animal Sciences – taught their fellow classmates, a few faculty, and other visitors, what they learned after spending the semester working on a project focused on the excretion of estrogenic hormones in wastewater from dairy farms. The project touched on reproductive physiology, dairy cattle management, animal waste handling, environmental bioconversion of hormones, estrogen as an environmental contaminant and its effects on animals, and policies and laws associated with farm wastewater.

Challenged to develop a skit to demonstrate what they had learned about their topic areas and the project as a whole, these students provided a glimpse into what they learned and how they think about their topics. As their teacher, I am continually, and always very pleasantly, amazed at how creative our students can be in sharing their knowledge when given open-ended opportunities such as this.

Stepping out of your square

Jan 3
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

I’ve been in New Zealand for three days now and I have absolutely fallen in love with the country. Eating peaches right off the tree, hiking around the Southern Alps, and getting to know some of the most genuine farmers I’ve ever met – this opportunity to study abroad is amazing.

I think that one of the family orchard owners, Simon, said it best when he told us, “You’ve got to get out of your square, mates.” He said that he frequently takes his orchard employees to neighboring farms to learn new practices because it’s important to learn from others. I think this is just what studying abroad feels like.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous when I left snowy Illinois for more than 24 hours of traveling to sunny New Zealand. But let me tell you – this opportunity has been everything I hoped for, plus more. Sometimes stepping out of your square, or box, can be difficult, but it’s one of the most important lessons to learn. If you never step out of your comfort zone and try new things, you’ll never learn about other countries or experience a new culture. Opportunities are always near, don’t be afraid to knock on the door and step out of your square, especially with a study abroad experience in the College of ACES.

New Year excitement

Jan 3
Doug Parrett, Interim Head of the Department of Animal Sciences

The start of 2013 brings a lot of excitement for the Department of Animal Sciences in ACES. For seniors, it will be the last semester of classes with exciting career opportunities ahead. For other undergraduates, there is continued learning and experiences that will be challenging, fun and hopefully, enriching. For the many great teachers in Animal Sciences, there is the excitement of meeting new students and engaging them in our many classes.

I have spent the past five months serving as the Interim Head of the Department of Animal Sciences, but I also have kept my teaching assignments. Teaching is the most important mission of our great university and the most rewarding for most professors. ACES students are academically strong and very motivated, which make them a lot of fun to teach. I look forward to the interaction and learning experiences ahead in 2013 with our Animal Sciences students. Students who engage the learning process gain the most from classes and are the most fun to teach!


Jan 2
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising
Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of college football and basketball, so there are two times each year when my primary focus is sitting on my couch watching sports: March Madness and Capital One Bowl Week/BCS Bowl week. “Boggling” is what I’ve titled this state of rest when I stare at the TV wrapped in my Illini blanket with beverages and snacks at close reach so getting up is minimized. Even my kids understand they aren’t going to be able to watch their cartoons because mommy’s watching sports. I’ve been loving all of the close bowl games of the past couple weeks, hating that the Big 10 has been on the losing side of so many of them, and looking forward to the remaining games. Boggle on!

Off to New Zealand

Jan 2
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Passport in hand, excitement in the air, and a suitcase that weighs exactly 50 pounds; that’s right, I’m studying abroad! New Zealand, here I come!

This will be my third trip abroad and I cannot wait! Although I loved being home for the holidays, there’s just something about being in one place for too long. I get restless and I need a challenge or a new adventure.

I found myself sharing these words with a high school student the other day when she asked what I loved most about being a student in the College of ACES. I told her that there’s always a new opportunity that comes along and challenges me or sends me down a path I never thought I’d find. Just when I think I have things planned out, another opportunity comes along and there I am adjusting to add one more thing to the mix so I don’t miss out.

This trip to New Zealand will be an fun adventure to say the least. After almost 24 hours of traveling, our group will arrive in New Zealand ready for two action-packed weeks of agriculture, tourism, and culture. I am so excited to learn about agriculture in another country. Previously I’ve visited China and the Dominican Republic so I expect that New Zealand will be like nothing I’ve seen before! I have my camera packed so be on the lookout for photos and updates coming soon!

New opportunity in the ACES Alumni Association

Dec 28
Tina Veal, Director of Alumni Relations

So what exactly is the Round Barn Society? The College of ACES Alumni Association launched the society in September 2012. The honorary society was formed to honor alumni who have made an impact and provided significant contributions to the college's rich heritage. Members of the society include all past board members of the Home Ec Alumni Association, the Ag Alumni Association, and the ACES Alumni Association, in addition to all past winners of the ACES Award of Merit including Ag and Home Economics Award of Merit and all past outstanding young alumni recipients.

Honorees are being recognized with a Round Barn Society pin and will receive special correspondence from the ACES Alumni Association, including sharing opportunities to get involved. A newsletter and survey will be sent to members in early January 2013 to seek input from members and provide updates from the College of ACES. More than 350 alumni were considered charter members of this group. A list of charter members can be found online.

We look forward to engaging outstanding alumni through the Round Barn Society in the upcoming years!

To learn more about the Round Barn Society visit

A job well done

Dec 21
K.C. Ting, Head, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

One of the highlights of the fall semester for the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering was the ABE 100 challenge project competition held on December 17. This year, 49 freshmen on 15 teams of two to four students each completed projects and made poster and verbal presentations in various areas of the ABE discipline.

ABE 100 is an introduction to the agricultural and biological engineering profession with Interactive class activities that present concepts necessary for becoming a successful engineer, including time management, design concepts, ethics, and team building. Dr. Angela Green has worked extremely effectively with dozens of ABE department faculty, staff, and students to guide and support the 15 ABE 100 student teams.

The poster competition is the final activity of the course, intended to promote peer-learning and practice task-based problem-solving and technical communication skills. With team names such as Traction in Action, Waste Watchers, The Extractors, and Nanostuds, it is obvious to me that these students are truly enjoying themselves as they take advantage of a unique learning opportunity. While viewing the posters, it was easy to get a sense that the challenge project experience is relevant, impactful, significant, and exciting (R.I.S.E.) to our students. What a wonderful way to start their ABE “career.”

This year’s best overall winner, Traction in Action, worked with the Illini Pullers to determine how weight distribution affects traction, in order to recommend an optimal weight distribution for off-road vehicles.

All of the posters are on display on the first floor of the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building for a full year until the next year’s competition. Please come by to see the excellent work our students are doing. And congratulations to all the ABE 100 teams on a job well done!

Wrapping it up

Dec 21
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

While taking care of some of the annual ritual involving paper, scissors, ribbon, and tape, I paused to think about a few things pertaining to ACES this past year.

As a parent, my eldest daughter graduated from ACES in May 2012. One of the most exciting things you can experience as a parent is the opportunity to see your child walk across that commencement stage in Assembly Hall, and to receive acknowledgement for four years of hard work and achievement. Knowing that she earned her degree in a program renowned for its excellent teaching and results, in her case Hospitality Management in Food Science and Human Nutrition, certainly justified the investment of time, toil, and money. A highlight of the program was involving the whole family, those near and far, to celebrate her capstone learning experience in February, as her customers in her fine dining event, themed Arabian Nights! Mom even served as a guest chef!

As a teacher, I had the privilege of leading 24 incredible students in ACE/BADM 436, the International Business Immersion Program. With the fabulous support of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Jessa Barnard, we learned in the classroom, wound our way through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, and produced insightful documentation of critical issues facing segments of the food and agribusiness industries, here and in the European Union. The young men and women from ACES and Business who participated in the course demonstrated to me that some of the most accomplished professionals of the future will be from the University of Illinois.

As an alumnus, the orange and blue bled through on some memorable occasions. One of personal significance was the first reunion in over 36 years of guys from my housing unit, most of whom are also alumni of the former College of Agriculture, now ACES. While some of us have interacted over the years, it is amazing to pick up where you left off the day you left campus. Another notable occasion was the turnout on a warm, sunny September morning for this year’s Salute to Agriculture tailgate. Even with the aid of several department heads, we couldn’t make breakfast sandwiches fast enough for the happy throng of ACES supporters. The Illini even won the football game!

As a team member, I resolved last year to do my best as a college staff member, and yes, to offer my prayers for the University of Illinois. We all know that our beloved university has had its ups and downs. But who would have guessed a year ago, that our very own Dr. Robert Easter, former Dean, Head of Animal Sciences, and faculty member in ACES, would be the 19th President of the University of Illinois! Those who know Bob also know that he has brought a palpable sense of well-being to our institution.

And that’s a wrap on 2012.

ACES and Business students in the 2012 International Business Immersion Program at the IBIP symposium in Brussels, Belgium, sponsored by Baron Piet van Waeyenberge, an ACE alumnus, at the Flemish Business Club – De Warande.

Happy Holidays from the College of ACES

Dec 21
Robert Hauser, Dean of the College of ACES

On behalf of our family in the College of ACES, we want to wish you a joyous holiday filled with peace, love and prosperity.

Going home

Dec 20
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Every year there are a few quiet weeks of winter break on the University of Illinois campus. Finals are over, the classrooms are empty, and the books are put away – it’s winter break. During this time, students head home for the holidays to enjoy time with family and friends.

As I was driving home for winter break the other day, I couldn’t wait to turn down that black top and see my house decorated in lights. My whole family was inside getting ready for our first holiday family gathering. My mom was standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes, my stepdad was setting the table, and my brother’s truck was in the driveway delivering the ribs he’d been smoking all day. As I turned into the driveway, the dog came running out to greet me and I felt like the happiest college student in the whole world. I was home.

Over the past few days I’ve been helping my mom bake, visiting old friends, and catching up on the time I’ve missed helping on the farm. I’m looking forward to a few more family gatherings, the ‘past presidents dinner’ for my FFA chapter, and hopefully enough snow to build a snowman in the next week!

I’m sure my time at home will fly by, but I’m going to make the most of it before I board a plane for my study abroad trip to New Zealand on December 30!