What’s with Washington?

Feb 27
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

For better or for worse, the nation’s capital is the focus of attention for not only the media, but for many of us associated with the University of Illinois as well. The federal government accounts for 40% of the research expenditures in the College of ACES, through its various grant and formula funding programs. We also have several USDA scientists who live and work right here in ACES. Federal grants are even more important in the research portfolios of some other science and technology units on campus. That’s why the university is ably represented in Washington by our university government relations people and our faculty and administrators need a high profile there to stay competitive.

According to University Administration, up to $65 million could be at risk across the whole university from the mandatory spending cuts being hotly debated this week between Congress and the President, whether in research, student aid, or hospital operations in Chicago. So like it or not, the political machinations in Washington, D.C., matter and the answers are not simple, for those who make the feed, carry the feed, or eat the feed. George Washington would have been 281 years old last Friday, February 22.  I wonder what he would have thought.

Rich Vogen

Another reason I love Illinois

Feb 27
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

If you haven’t already heard, it’s “I Love Illinois" Week. We are celebrating a very special birthday on Thursday, Feb. 28, it’s University of Illinois’ 146th birthday! To celebrate, I’m sharing one of my top five reasons why I love Illinois each day. So far, I’ve told you about the gorgeous Illinois campus and the literally thousands of RSOs here. Today’s reason why I love Illinois...

3. The opportunities – yes it’s the catch-all category for the millions of opportunities U of I offers its students. U of I abounds with them! From spectacular sports events to outstanding guest lecturers, and from great career and leadership centers to countless internships and scholarships. The list goes on. I love my internship in the College of ACES Communications and Marketing because I get to share all these wonderful opportunities with you.

Claire Benjamin Intern

Reason two why I love Illinois

Feb 26
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

It’s day two of “I Love Illinois Week,” a week-long celebration of the University of Illinois’ 146th birthday on February 28. To celebrate, I’m sharing one of my top five reasons why I love Illinois each day. Yesterday, I wrote to you about the gorgeous Illinois campus. Today’s reason is the RSOs that complement and enhance our educations here at the U of I.

2. The RSOs. As a past president and current founder of two Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), I know the value of the more than 1,100 RSOs on this campus. They bring together a huge student body and provide opportunities for us to apply our knowledge and skills outside the classroom. I am so thankful for everything that I have gained as a part of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, National Agri-Marketing Association, Alpha Zeta, and 4-H House. I am equally grateful for the opportunity to provide similar opportunities to students through Collegiate Farm Bureau, an RSO I founded this fall.

Collegiate Farm Bureau officers and members attended the Champaign County Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this January.
Collegiate Farm Bureau officers and members attended the Champaign County Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this January.

Installing the Energy Shade Curtains Systems

Feb 26
Nathan Deppe, Plant Care Facility Coordinator

In 2012, the Student Sustainability Committee was very gracious to provide the Plant Care Facility with funds for new curtains in the Plant Sciences Laboratory Greenhouses. We received a $121,000 grant for 12 systems in various rooms, of which, contractors are currently working on installation.

The beauty of these systems is two-fold: It allows us to optimize natural lighting while blocking out heat producing infrared light.  Secondly, it acts as a thermal blanket on cold winter nights which can help protect plants if we lose heat. The shading and insulating properties provided by these curtains also helps reduce unnecessary use of utilities. For example, we can reduce heat use in rooms by 50 percent or more when using curtains during cold weather nights. What a savings!

Curtains help mitigate utility use, while improving plant health for research and academic purposes. This is a win-win situation for all. Even the hydroponic lettuce likes the new curtains!

Energy Shade Curtains Systems

Happy "I love Illinois" Week!

Feb 25
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

Today kicks off I love Illinois Week, a celebration of the 146th birthday of the University of Illinois. We have the 1867 Society, Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA), Uniting Illini, and Illinois Students Senate to thank for this week-long birthday party to “encourage school spirit, celebrate all that is great about Illinois and raise awareness about giving to Illinois.” In my opinion, there are a lot of reasons to love Illinois, but I’ll (begrudgingly) narrow it down to my top five and share one reason each day this week.

1. The campus. The University of Illinois is in the heartland for a reason. The green grass, mature trees, and picturesque buildings all hold a special place in the hearts and memories of the students that have walked it's sidewalks and hallways. I feel a sense of joy when I see it through a backdrop of raindrops, when the leaves turn brilliant colors and fall to grace my path, when snow settles on the familiar landscape, and when flowers push their way through the dark prairie soil beckoning springtime.

University of Illinois

Don’t miss ExplorACES

Feb 25
Kendra Courson, Director for Special Events

ExplorACES is just around the corner! As it draws closer, I continue to be amazed by our students who make up this year’s steering committee.  This is my third ExplorACES, and every year I become more proud of the student group I am privileged to advise. I know I am a bit partial, but I believe this student group is different from the rest. Perhaps it is because I know how difficult it is to pull off an event like this, so I marvel at their attention to detail. To watch this fantastic group of ACES students pull together all the details… it is something to see.

For those of you who don’t know, the planning starts at the beginning of the fall semester with monthly meetings and then weekly meetings after Christmas break. A lot of time, effort and hard work takes place outside of these meetings. From publicity to recruitment to internal communications, our different committees tackle big tasks and go above and beyond to make sure that ExplorACES is an event for all to remember. This is especially important for the admitted students and their parents who base their admission decision on this event, and the feeling they get when they are in our buildings, meeting with our faculty, and talking to our students. ExplorACES is completely a team effort. So, circle March 8 or March 9 (or both!) when you flip over your calendar this week. It is something you won’t want to miss!

ExplorACES committee

Matchmaking in ACES

Feb 25
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising
A Hallmark-created holiday or not, February 14 is when those who choose to pay attention to it celebrate Valentine’s Day. The day after, February 15, was really the day for making a match this year, as this was the freshman admissions notification date. Applicants in what’s called the “second round,” which means their applications were submitted between November 2, 2012 and January 2, 2013, as well as those who received a decision of “defer” in the first round, were able to view their final status at 4 p.m. that Friday. Eager prospective students likely were waiting for the switch to flip as they viewed their status online, and now we eagerly await the acceptance of our offers by the May 1 deadline. In total between both the first- and second-rounds, the College of ACES offered admission to 1,115 prospective students. We hope to have found our matches to make-up of an intelligent, diverse, hard-working, and engaged freshman class!

Jackets and memories

Feb 21
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

Jackets are in style this week. For me, that means a winter jacket to endure this cold weather, but for some that means an FFA jacket.

Each year FFA week comes around and I’m reminded of the many times I zipped up the blue corduroy. That FFA jacket is where my interest in the University of Illinois started. My very first visit to campus was during my sophomore year of high school at the State Awards day interviews. I remember sitting in a classroom in Bevier Hall telling the judges about my Supervised Agricultural Experience in equine entrepreneurship. Little did I know that just a few years later I would be sitting in that very room as a student in the College of ACES.Over the years, my interest in the University of Illinois continued. I was able to set foot on campus numerous times for Career Development Events, workshops, and other leadership opportunities in the FFA. After being elected Illinois State FFA reporter I worked with the College of ACES Agricultural Communications Program to develop reporter workshop materials and I found my passion.

I no longer zip up my FFA jacket, but I’m so thankful that the College of ACES provided opportunities for me to imagine my future so that today I can zip up my winter jacket and walk to class on this beautiful campus.

Ellen Reeder at FFA Convention

Building a successful career is like training for a marathon

Feb 21
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

Since I was in the sixth grade and learned about ancient Greece, I’ve wanted to run a marathon. I thought it was impossible. I knew that an Athenian soldier died completing one, so I was a bit gun-shy to say the least. Building a professional career can seem as daunting to a 20-year-old as running a marathon to a 12-year-old, but prepping for them is similar.

If you’ve ever run long distances, you know that the average person doesn’t go out and put down 26.2 miles at the drop of a hat. Most runners need a disciplined plan with smaller milestones along the way. You start by running about three miles three to four times a week and cross-training on off days. You also take a day off to recover. You slowly build a long run into your schedule.

In terms of careers, you most likely won’t start out as a CEO. You will start by taking the entry-level jobs that help to develop the skills you need to be successful for our ultimate goal. These lower-skilled jobs give you the opportunity to develop a good work ethic; practice your public speaking, enhance your teamwork, etc. Over time, you will develop the professional muscle and stamina to be successful in your career. The trick is to keep finding opportunities to help you toward our long-term career goal such as extra assignments or promotions that increase your skill-set. If your long-term career goal isn’t obvious at first, keep exercising your professional skills and stay current in your profession so you will be ready for opportunities as they come. Don’t forget to seek a coach or a mentor to help you perfect your form so that you can run/work injury free. Happy running!

Building a successful career is like training for a marathon

Best part of my job

Feb 20
Tina Veal, Director of Alumni Relations

As I gear up for next week's “to-do” list, I am looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones and sharing the Illini Spirit! One of the greatest highlights of my job is meeting alumni near and far and next week I will be doing just that! The College of ACES Alumni Association often holds alumni events throughout the year to engage alumni with their alma mater, share college updates and bring ACES Alumni together.

Next week, I travel to Washington, D.C., for the “Big Ten Ag Alumni event” on Monday evening. There are more than 200 registered from University of Illinois, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin and the newest members of the Big Ten -  Rutgers University and the University of Maryland. What a wonderful evening it will be to reconnect with our D.C. alumni and friends and celebrate agriculture with our Big 10 agricultural friends!

On Thursday evening, I will be close to home reconnecting with alumni in the Springfield area through an ACES in Places alumni event. Katheryne Rehberg, District 5 ACES Alumni Board member, is hosting an alumni event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Dean Robert Hauser will be giving an update on the College of ACES. We will also recognize the heritage that Abraham Lincoln provided through the signing of the Morrill Act,  which was  signed into law in 1862 and shaped the mission of public higher education in the United States. The Morrill Act allocated 30,000 acres of Federal government land to each state to sell, the proceeds from which were used to establish public colleges.

The college and our alumni have much to be thankful for as graduates of our “land-grant” college and shaping us into who we are today! I look forward to seeing alumni near and far in the week ahead!