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College of ACES Alumni News

Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Janovsky

When she began her studies at the University of Illinois, Rachel Janovsky would not have pictured herself working for an international aircraft manufacturing company. A 2018 graduate of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES), Janovsky has been able to leverage her College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) degree to ensure the health and safety of employees at Honda.

Janovsky started working at Honda’s automotive plant as a Safety Compliance Analyst. She created safety management plans, ensured the working environment was safe for assembly line workers, and prevented injuries through OSHA compliance. Janovsky later worked as the plant ergonomist. Discussing her time in the automotive industry, Janovsky points out that having traditional training in ACES sciences labs allowed her to better understand lab techniques and very essential safety methods.

Janovsky’s decision to choose NRES as a major was motivated by her goal of wanting to impact the world, while obtaining a hands-on education. In NRES, she learned ways to prevent natural disasters and help the environment. At Illinois, she was a James Scholar, member of Phi Sigma Sigma, served on the Panhellenic Council, and assisted on a research project with Dr. Eric Larson focused on the language in invasive species research papers. Janovsky published her research and won an award for her research poster she presented at Explore ACES.  Students interested in experiences like Janovsky’s can learn more on the NRES section of the ACES website.

One of her favorite parts about attending the College of ACES was the small class sizes and strong community that she formed with her peers over the four years while pursuing her degree. “My time in ACES allowed me to have more one-on-one time with professors, which led me to learn the concepts better,” she says.

Janovsky recently started a safety role at Honda Aircraft Company.  In her new role, she develops trainings and policies, ensures OSHA compliance, serves on the emergency responder team, evaluates new chemicals, and assists with injury preventative programs. Just as NRES provided her hands-on experiences impacting the world, Honda is affording her the same opportunity.

When asked to give advice for a young professional, Janovsky responded, “Five-year plans are a good starting point, but your career is going to lead you to places that you never imagined.”

She stresses the importance of taking advantage of opportunities when they are present. She also points out being a recent graduate provides you the unique chance to work or live somewhere you might not have considered previously.

In her free time, Janovsky likes to cook and has been able to develop her culinary skills during the pandemic.

Celebrate Food and Agriculture

Friday, September 17
5:00 p.m.
University of Illinois Stock Pavilion

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) invites you to save the date for 2021 Celebrate Food & Ag Day at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday, September 17 from 5-8 p.m.

Prior to watching the Illini take on Maryland, we invite you to enjoy a tailgate celebration in the Stock Pavilion, 1402 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Urbana, IL 61801. A dinner buffet will be offered. Check back here soon for the opportunity to register for the tailgate. 

Game tickets are exclusively available through the Athletic Ticket Office.  

2021 Career Achievement and Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipients

We proudly present the 2021 ACES Alumni Association Career Achievement and Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipients!

2021 Career Achievement Recipients

·         Emerson Nafziger - Ph.D.  1982 Agronomy  
·         John Slayton - B.S. 1976 Agricultural Economics

2021 Outstanding Young Alumni Recipients

·         Michael Ganschow - B.S. 2007 Agricultural and Consumer Economics
·          Rita Strakovsky - Ph.D.  2011 Nutritional Sciences
·         Rachel Atwell Vann - B.S. 2012 Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences


ACES in Places: The Mill at Janie's Farm

The College of ACES Alumni Association invites you to join us for an ACES in Places Event at The Mill at Janie's Farm in Ashkum, IL on Thursday, July 29, 2021 at 5:30 PM.

The evening includes a guided tour of The Mill at Janie's Farm in addition to dinner and presentation at Beans & Barley Brews.

The Mill at Janie's Farm Address: 405 N. 2nd St., Ashkum, IL 60911
Beans & Barley Brews Address: 852 E State Route 116, Ashkum, IL 60911

Special Guests
College of ACES Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab staff Dr. Beth Conerty and Brian Jacobson.
Learn more about the speakers.

5:15 PM      Check-in 
5:30 PM      Tour begins
6:30 PM      Dinner and Presentation
8:00 PM      Conclude

We invite you to register for this event here. Please RSVP by July 20, 2021

Based on CDC guidance, the university no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear a face covering or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors. People who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing indoors and outdoors.

Feel free to reach out to the College of ACES Alumni Association at or 217-333-7744 if you have questions.

Save the Date - ACES Alumni Association Awards Gala

Monday, October 25, 2021
Pear Tree Estate

Recognizing the 2021 ACES Award of Merit, Career Achievement, and Young Alumni award recipients. The 2020 recipients of these awards will also be recognized at this event.

Registration information available soon. 

Farm Progress Show 2021

Visit us at the University of Illinois tent at the 2021 Farm Progress Show in Decatur August 31-September 2!

Offer up your reflections and advise for current and future students on our alumni wall!

We'll have I pins and other items for you to share your Illini Pride!

Alumni Spotlight: Nora Rasure

With a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a love for adventure, Nora Rasure’s life and career have been nothing short of exciting. Rasure enjoyed a successful 40-year career with the US Forest Service and is now retired and living in Sisters, Oregon. While she was able to create amazing memories during her career, she was also able to make a difference by caring for public land and serving people.

Growing up, Rasure spent a lot of time outdoors and fell in love with nature. She joined 4-H, where she participated in several conservation, wildlife, and biology programs. However, the biggest influence on her passion was a week-long forestry camp in Wisconsin where she learned about all aspects of forest management and became completely enamored. These interests led her to the University of Illinois, where she received her bachelor’s of science Forestry.

Rasure fondly remembers her time in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). She appreciated the diverse education she received here. It allowed her to have a forester background, but still pursue other interests within forestry because of her broad education. She was active in the Illini Foresters student organization, serving as the chairperson.

Reflecting on her time in ACES, her favorite part was the relationships. The small cohorts of the forestry program allowed her to make lifelong connections. The faculty also left an impression on her. They took a personal interest in students and cared about helping them reach their next goals, which she appreciated immensely, she recalls. That continues today. Learn more on the ACES future students page.

After graduation, Rasure started her career in the US Forest Service. She began supervising eight teens in Nevada. Her career, eventually, took her all over the US and in all different directions. She recently wrapped up her time as the regional forester in the Intermountain region. Her leadership role was significant. The region included 32 million acres, 12 national forests, and 3,000 employees. She had a wide range of responsibilities and decisions to make, and she interacted with people and nature on all levels.

Rasure says her career was “built over time.” She took advantage of opportunities that came her way to try new things and take on more leadership. “It’s not always comfortable or easy, but you just go with it,” said Rasure, who always felt that excitement and interest outweighed nerves and uncertainty.

Rasure’s career and journey have certainly brought her joy. Not only did she live in seven states, each special for their own reason, and travel all over the US, her job allowed an abundance of fun activities. She skied, went snowmobiling, river rafted, took horseback riding trail trips, and even rode a fat-tire bicycle – all while on the clock.

“Overall, my job gave me a lot of fulfillment,” she said.

Rasure will surely continue to find joy and adventure during her retirement. While the pandemic ruined her plans to travel more, she looks forward to doing that again. She also plans to spend more time with family and friends, as well as train her new golden retriever puppy. She’s been looking after herself physically with yoga and walking, but also mentally, as she is taking the time to learn about something new that interests her: holistic nutrition. Of course, she will stay engaged with her passion for the national forests. She joined the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, and is serving on its board. Overall, Rasure plans to take life at her own pace.

As for ACES students, “Be adventurous and explore different opportunities,” Rasure advises. “Don’t think you’ve got it all figured out, or that you have to have it all figured out. It’s a journey. It’s about trying new opportunities, exploring different paths, being open to possibilities, and finding things that bring you joy.”

Award of Merit 2021 Recipients

We’re pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the ACES Alumni Award of Merit. We look forward to celebrating these recipients later this year.

Janet Mathis - B.S. 1989 Agricultural Industries/Economics

Jim Endress - B.S. 1974  Agricultural Education, M.S. 1977 Agricultural Education

Sue Gray - B.S. 1980 Agricultural Economics, M.S. 1990 Agronomy

Matthew Kuchan – Ph.D. 1991 Nutritional Sciences 

Gene Schwarm - B.S. 1978 Agricultural Sciences

AFA '22


Seeking Nomination Calls to Serve on the Board of Directors (UPDATED qualifications)

The ACES Alumni Board is seeking one ACES Alumni Board position on the ACES Alumni Board of Directors.

Nominees must have received a degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The Board of Directors meets four times per year on a week day. Most of the meetings are held on campus, unless otherwise decided by the executive board. 

Board members are expected to serve on a committee(s) to further the mission of the ACES Alumni Board of Directors.  Standing committees are:  Nominating Committee, Alumni Engagement, Award & Recognition, Student Engagement, Fundraising and ACES Family Academies.  Additional committees are established on an as needed basis.  These committees meet via conference calls between board meetings.

Open position includes:

Extension Director

The nominating committee requires the following information:

A letter outlining why the alumnus or alumna wants to serve in this capacity and the skills or experiences that the alumnus or alumna will bring to the Board of Directors.

Resume or curriculum vitae

One letter of reference and two additional names which may be contacted.

Current Extension employee

Please send nominations material to Kendra Courson at

Join the hunt for the Animal Head Medallions

In addition to the food and fellowship of the Celebrate Food and Agriculture event, this year’s celebration included the reveal of custom terra cotta animal head medallions.

When the University of Illinois Stock Pavilion was constructed in 1913, it featured 52 terra cotta animal head medallions on the exterior north wall. The designs featured 10 different species viewed as important to the livestock industry (two each of beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep).

During Stock Pavilion renovations in the 1950s, the animal heads were removed and many were damaged. Intact medallions were stored on the South Farms, but many were lost over the decades.

Watch a video about the animal head medallions.

In 2018, five of the pieces were returned to the Department of Animal Sciences. Two other medallions were found in a campus storage room and in a local garden.

During recent efforts to reinvigorate the interior and exterior of the Stock Pavilion, Longshadow Planters of Pomona, Illinois, was contracted to create molds of the remaining pieces to reproduce dry cast limestone medallions. Five of the reproductions were selected for incorporation in the wall on the south exterior of the Stock Pavilion.

The John N. Chester Estate Endowment supported the recreation of the animal head medallions. The recovered original pieces remain on display in the Stock Pavilion.

The search continues for three of the original 10 medallion designs. Help the College of ACES find the Holstein and Jersey cows and Poland China pig. If you have any information about the missing medallions, contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement at 217-333-9355 or

Learn More

Update Your E-mail Address

Do you have an updated email address on file? Do you have an email you prefer to receive correspondence to? Did your email address recently change?

We want to stay connected to you!

All invitations to events and college updates will be sent via email only. Please update your email address to stay connected today!

With the rising cost of postal mail, email communication is a cost-effective way for the ACES Alumni Association to stay connected and provide updates, event announcements, and invitations to you as our alumni. Please feel free to share your email address with us by sending it to 

Join the 4-H Alumni Association

Were you a member of 4-H?  The University of Illinois Extension, Illinois 4-H, and the Illinois 4-H Foundation invite you to join the newly formed Illinois 4-H Alumni Association. A free life-time membership is available online . We hope your 4-H memories bring a smile to your face. We're creating memories daily with today's 4-H members.

Stay Connected on Social Media

Online social networking is a great tool to stay in tought with alumni and friends from the College of ACES! We want to stay connected to you! We post regular updates about activities, alumni profiles, on campus happenings, etc. Stay connected with us!

ACES Alumni Association hosts the following groups online: 

ACES Alumni Facebook -

College of ACES Facebook -

Twitter -

Linked In -

YouTube -

Flicker -

Instagram - 


Share Your Class Notes

Check out Class Notes online -

Be sure to share any special times in your life with the ACES Alumni Association to keep your fellow alumni updated! Newly married? New job? Promotion? New book? New baby? We hope to hear from you. 

Looking for an Illini Network

Looking for an Illini Network? Join the University of Illinois Network! Stay up to date with the University of Illinois activities, events near you, or join a local Illini Club. The Illini opportunities await you, get involved!

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