Skip to main content
Voices of ACES Blog

How I landed in ACES without an Agricultural Background

Maci Kingren Image


            Growing up, I was surrounded by agriculture every day. In a small town with 4,000 people and only one stoplight, it’s no wonder our agricultural roots run deep. As a young girl, the vast fields surrounding me, along with daily encounters with livestock and tractors, appeared to hold little significance. It was simply, just farming.

            Throughout my junior high years, I was steadfast in my vision of attending medical school, relocating to a big city, and pursuing a career as a physician. Serving others was my driving passion, and I was determined to fulfill that calling. However, it wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I discovered this passion for service could be directed in alternative directions.

            During that year, I chose Introduction to Agriculture as one of my elective courses. Right from the first day of class, I created a strong connection with my agricultural advisors and developed a genuine passion for the agriculture industry. Whether learning about plant science, livestock, agricultural mechanics, or improving my public speaking skills, I was in for every aspect. This newfound love for the industry ultimately led me to the decision to join the National FFA Organization. Formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, the FFA provides high school students with the opportunity to further explore their passions for agriculture and leadership.

            Throughout my involvement in FFA, I engaged in various career development events, conducted agriscience research projects, and served on different leadership teams. Participating in public speaking competitions brought me immense joy, and I seized every opportunity to address audiences about agriculture. Whether articulating industry through speeches, I consistently communicated about agriculture. In the later stages of my FFA journey, I was honored to be selected as the Illinois FFA Section 17 President. In this role, I continued to advocate for Illinois Agriculture, inspire younger students to become impactful leaders, and played a key role on the Illinois FFA board, contributing to decisions aimed at enhancing the organization. No matter what it was, my conversations were always about agriculture.

            Since then, I’ve been committed to being a positive advocate for agriculture throughout my life. In my senior year of high school, I dedicated my time to researching agricultural colleges and determining the best major for me. Although I applied to numerous universities, only one truly felt like home – the University of Illinois. The proximity of being just half an hour away from home provided a comforting familiarity, and knowing the endless growth opportunities convinced me that this was the right choice. The moment I set foot on campus as a prospective student, I felt a strong sense that this was where I belonged. The campus staff, current students, and alumni warmly welcomed me, offering a wealth of resources for success during my time on campus. In the College oof ACES specifically, I appreciated the combination of a large campus with the intimate, small-town feeling reminiscent of my hometown, Paxton, IL.

            Choosing the College of ACES has undoubtedly been the most impactful decision I’ve made thus far. Here, I am immersed in a realm of continuous learning and have the opportunity to enhance my communication skills, channeling them into advocacy for agriculture. As a current student specializing in Agricultural Communications and serving as an intern in ACES Marketing and Communications, I find myself living a dream. A dream filled with the same passion of service that I have always had. My journey serves as a testament to the idea that a robust agriculture background is not needed to play a vital role in the industry. Agriculture has a universal impact, and whether we realize it or not, we are all interconnected with it in some way.  


I am so proud to call ACES home!