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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of ACES
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College of ACES Alumni News

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

Nominate an ACES Alumni

ACES Career Achievement Award 

Recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of living University of Illinois College of ACES alumni who have had exceptional professional achievement and/or made extraordinary humanitarian contributions. Awardees will be honored at the ACES Alumni Association Awards Gala fall event. The selected individuals will also become Round Barn Society members and will be pinned when receiving their recognition.

ACES Outstanding Young Alumni

Recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of University of Illinois College of ACES young alumni who have had exceptional professional achievement and/or made extraordinary humanitarian contributions. Awardees will be honored at the ACES Alumni Association Awards Gala fall event. The selected individuals will also become Round Barn Society members and will be pinned when receiving their recognition.

ACES Family Spirit Award

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Family Spirit Award recognizes those family members who have demonstrated their support of the College as alumni and/or current students. Selection will be based on, but not limited to a display of sincere dedication to the College of ACES and significant connections to the College and University. Awardees will be honored at the ACES Alumni Association Awards Gala fall event.

Fillable PDF applications and tip sheets can be found here!

All applications are due June 1, 2021


2021 Illinois Global Food Security Summit

"Technology Innovation in the Fight Against Hunger"

hosted by the University of Illinois 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

9 - 11 a.m. CST 

The virtual summit, featuring university and state of Illinois leadership, will highlight University of Illinois programs working in the area of food security. 

For more information and to register visit this link

Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Vann

A Soybean Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor at NC State, Rachel Vann credits her career in academia to good mentorship from her professors and undergraduate research experience at the University of Illinois that ignited a passion for agricultural research and outreach. A Geneseo, Illinois native, Vann graduated from the University of Illinois in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and a minor in Crop Sciences. Vann then moved on to NC State University where she completed her master's in 2015, and Ph.D. in 2017.

While at the University of Illinois, Vann took an interest in Crop Science. Her master’s, Ph.D., and current position are all focused mainly on that discipline. Vann would say that her most foundational experiences in the College of ACES came from working in undergraduate research with Dr. John Masiunas and Dr. Richard Mulvaney. Additionally, her involvement as an intern in the ACES Office of Academic Programs with Dr. Jason Emmert increased her interest in University dynamics and expanded her communication and leadership skills.

Vann had an amazing undergraduate experience as a student in the College of ACES. Not only did ACES give her the ‘home’ feeling after growing up in a small town, but she was also offered many unique opportunities that propelled her forward. Some of these opportunities included amazing study abroad experiences in Brazil and New Zealand and the opportunity to network with diverse University stakeholders through the Student Advancement Committee.

The research and Extension efforts that Vann focuses on at NC State revolve around agronomic management for soybeans. She spends her time educating students and producers across the state in an attempt to increase yields and and educate agricultural stakeholders on production recommendations. She currently has twelve scientific publications and a plethora of Extension outreach material available on diverse aspects of crop production in North Carolina.

In her free time, Vann enjoys running, cooking from the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, cheering on Illinois (and Wolfpack!) athletics, and spending time with her husband Matthew and son Orrin.

ACES Alumni Virtual Gathering

Program will feature updates from Dean Kim Kidwell and ACES Academic Programs, and research highlights from a sample of ACES faculty members. 

Tuesday, April 27

6 p.m. CT

Zoom (link provided upon registration)

Register at by Monday, April 26. 

Questions – contact

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

Application deadline: Monday, April 5, 2021

Please send nominations material to Kendra Courson at

ABE Call for Nominations for Alumni Awards

The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering requests nominations for its Distinguished Alumni and Young Alumni Awards. For more information click here


Young Alumni & Career Achievement Award Ceremony

Join us in celebrating these outstanding alumni with the 2020 ACES Alumni Association Career Achievement and Young Alumni Award Ceremony!


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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