Spring 2020 College of ACES Award Winners
Spring 2020 ACES award winners (from left): Peyton McClure, Oakley Whalen, and Madison Mitchell.
June 30, 2020

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is happy to announce this year’s recipients of the Hugh Morrison Scholarship, Warren K. Wessels Achievement Award, and Robert M. Harrison Leadership Awards. These annual awards are provided by generous gifts from individuals and organizations.

Hugh Morrison Scholarship

Peyton McClure is the recipient of the 2020 Hugh Morrison Scholarship. In 1985, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. gave a generous gift to the University of Illinois College of ACES in honor of Mr. Hugh Morrison, a former president of their organization. The annual interest from this gift funds the Hugh Morrison Scholarship for a graduating senior in the college. The student must show a strong academic record, evidence of leadership, and a demonstrated commitment to agriculture.

McClure majored in agricultural and consumer economics with a concentration in agribusiness, markets, and management. He describes his reaction to receiving this award as “a similar experience that a farmer would have today if he or she was able to get $4 for their corn”. His appreciation for the university compelled him to put his heart and soul into everything he did in the College of ACES, which, he says, is what makes receiving this award such an honor.

McClure declares his favorite part of the College of ACES was without question, the extra-curricular activities and teams that students have the opportunity in which to be a part. He took advantage of many of these opportunities, including the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) Case Study Team. He says these pushed him out of his comfort zone and allowed him to learn a lot about himself, and have undoubtedly prepared him for his position at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) as a grain buyer. In his role in the grain industry, he plans to continue forging strong relationships with growers and hopes to have an impact beyond ADM by giving back to NAMA through a leadership role.

Warren K. Wessels Achievement Award

Oakley Whalen is the recipient of the 2020 Warren K. Wessels Achievement Award. The Warren K. Wessels Achievement Award is presented each year to a graduating senior within the College of ACES. Warren K. Wessels was an Assistant Dean in the college for 36 years and touched the lives of countless persons through his encouragement for excellence; demanding, yet fun-loving personality; and sense of commitment to each individual student. Applicants are reviewed based on scholarship, leadership, participation in professional development activities, and contribution to ACES as a whole.

Whalen is an agricultural leadership, education, and communications major with a concentration in organizational and community leadership. For her, this award represents making the most of her time at the University of Illinois. Her remarkable pride in the College of ACES can be seen through her involvement in countless organizations around campus and the many leadership positions she has held within those. One way that Whalen has been able to contribute to the college was by combining her passion for ACES and her position at Campus Ink to create an ACES apparel line with some of the sales benefiting a student scholarship fund, allowing her to not only help ACES expand their brand, but also to help students who rely on these scholarships.

Whalen shares her great appreciation for the personal and professional development she has had through her education at the University of Illinois. By learning more about herself and gaining a deeper understanding of herself, she is able to be confident, capitalize on what she has to offer, and work better with others. She is also especially thankful for the people that gave her a family in ACES. She explains that they helped her not only get through, but excel, in one of the hardest times of her life. Next for Whalen is a position as a human resources trainee at CGB Enterprises, where she will surely put this self-awareness and development into practice.

The other finalists for this year’s Wessels Award were Laine Honegger, Peyton McClure, Emily Martin, and Andrew Johnson.

Robert M. Harrison Leadership Award

Madison Mitchell is the 2020 recipient of the Robert M. Harrison Leadership Award. The Harrison Award is made available each spring to an outstanding junior in the College of ACES. This award was initiated as a memorial tribute to Mr. Harrison following his death in 1986. It recognizes a student who has demonstrated a commitment for service, achievement, and leadership in a diversity of ways.

Mitchell is a junior majoring in agricultural and consumer economics with a concentration in agribusiness markets and management. Mitchell has been involved in many organizations in ACES, across campus, and outside of the university. She said that one of the things she appreciates most is the diverse opportunities that the university and the College of ACES offer. Among these was her work on the Explore ACES Steering Committee, where she was able to share her pride and excitement for the College of ACES with prospective students. She also shared her appreciation for the family atmosphere that the College of ACES has created through the personal relationships built between faculty/staff and students.

With still one more year ahead of her, after graduation Mitchell plans to work as a loan officer at a lending institution, specifically one that focuses on agriculture operations and helps farm families get to where they want to be. Her diverse involvement, dedication to relationships, and passion for agriculture will no doubt serve her well in this industry as she moves ahead.