Falling for ACES
By Madalyn Hammel
October 10, 2018

If you were to ask me about some of my favorite things regarding my time with the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, I would paint you a picture of the university in the fall; full of color, students rushing to class, the leaves crunching under their feet, and the aroma of coffee. The tree foliage on the south quad consists of a pallet of orange, yellows, and reds. The air is crisp, and you are snuggled up in a sweater walking to class with me. I fell in love with the College of ACES during the fall while taking electives to fulfill my degree requirements and discovering ACES in full color. It was through these course requirements that I recognized how much I could learn outside my core classes from the other ACES subjects and professors. Each new class brought a unique color combination to my pallet of classes.

As a prerequisite for my major, I had to take Horticulture 100. I loved the class because the professors brought great knowledge of the horticulture world to the classroom and I still utilize and value this education. Instead of looking at horticulture as a topic few people still access, I embraced it and found enjoyment for myself. Our professors created assignments that sent me out, which helped familiarize me with the south quad and the plants that call the tract of land home. I loved the class so much that I enrolled in Horticulture 106 with two of my previous professors to learn more about how I can be a proper home horticulturist. We learned how to take cuttings of plants so that eventually we can have more houseplants through propagation and not have to buy them. This class also discussed the importance of lawn care, composting and our impact on the environment.

To further find my love for horticulture I signed up for Hort 107: Floral Design. I learned to identify, care and transform simple flowers into elegant designs that make a statement, along with brushing up on my knowledge of colors and design techniques. All of these lessons were taught with the teacher's enthusiasm for horticulture that was contagious. Everyone should know that keeping fresh flowers in the house goes beyond just dumping them in a vase.

To continue my time in the crop sciences department and to learn more about my favorite addiction, I enrolled in CPSC 117: Agriculture and Science of Coffee. In this class, we discovered more about the drink that we rely on so heavily, its diverse history and involved growing/harvesting practices, and the significant impact it has on our economy. We learned how to be informed consumers and demystified the true meaning on the coffee labels and how to know a quality cup of joe.

While enrolled in ACE 231, my teacher sparked my interest in the world outside of academia and provided me with the skills I needed as an adult entering the workforce. My classmates and I learned such things as what to expect at your first job, what a successful company looks like, and how to find a company that is the best fit for you. This teacher was the first educator ever to tell me that while on the job it is okay to stop working and think. He encouraged us to think about what you want your product to look like and to think through a solution, not just work nonstop at trying to find the answer.

The College of ACES fosters learning by allowing students the opportunity to venture out of their program and try new and diverse classes. With the diversity of courses, you can acquire a knowledge about subjects like coffee, plants, or how to find a job. There are even clubs on campus that help you share your ideas and learn more about topics with other students such as Hort Club or AgEd Club. You can contemplate all of the learning opportunities available while walking between classes and enjoying the fall scenery the University of Illinois has to offer.