School of Agriculture

Summer 2014 Spotlights

Illinois State Representative Norine Hammond Visits the WIU Allison Organic Research Farm

On Monday, August 18th, Dr. Joel Gruver, Director of the WIU Organic Research Program and Andy Clayton, farmer and research technician, gave Illinois State Representative (94th district) Norine Hammond a tour of the WIU Allison Organic Research Farm.

Representative Hammond, a WIU alum, waded out into the tall soybeans in an inoculant study, learned about the toxic properties of Jimson weed and admired freshly made strips in a red clover field.

The following day, Representative Hammond emailed Andy and Dr. Gruver, "Thank you for a very enjoyable and informative tour of the organic farm yesterday! It was terrific!"

Aussie Students Visit WIU

Twenty Australian students from Charles Sturt University in Australia have found their way to the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University. The connection between the two institutions is that the School of Agriculture has had two study abroad trips to Australia over the years and has made Charles Sturt their host institution during these trips. Charles Sturt has graciously reciprocated their involvement by bringing over 20 students and two faculty members this year from different regions of Australia. The students were on campus from July 7th through July 9th before returning to their homeland. While they were here, they visited the ethanol plant in Burlington, Iowa, toured several AFL facilities and toured several local agricultural operations.

Representative Norine Hammond also addressed the group by speaking on some of the political issues facing Illinois and how they differ from their homeland of Australia. The group began their trip in Indianapolis, Indiana and then traveled to the University of Kentucky. They then proceeded to Springfield, Illinois and then ended their trip at WIU for their final three days.

The School of Agriculture is currently planning a trip back to Australia for the spring 2015 semester. For more information about the spring trip, please contact Dr. John Carlson at

Ag Field Laboratory Summer Activities

Summer is here and the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory is busy!

Weed Science and Crop Production research continues with students, research technicians and faculty doing plot work on a daily basis. In Alternative Crop research we are preparing to harvest pennycress in the coming week.

On the livestock side of things, we have recently synchronized 53 brood cows for breeding on June 12th. The remainder of the cows will be bred for a later calving date. As of today, the entire ewe flock has been shorn. We are also preparing our consignment for the Midwest Stud Ram Sale to be held in late June in Sedalia, MO. The swine unit will begin to prepare truckloads and a National Barrow Show consignment later in the summer. As weather allows we will be harvesting baled forages through mid-late June to be used to provide feed for the cowherd and ewe flocks during the coming winter.

In other work, the ongoing clean-up effort continues as we clear scrap and debris, and give attention to deferred facility maintenance issues.

We're looking forward to a very safe and productive summer at the AFL.

Spring 2014 Spotlights

Outstanding Teacher for 2013-2014

Dr. Mark Bernards was voted Outstanding Teacher by the student body for the 2013-2014 school year. Congratulations to Dr. Bernards on being chosen for this honor.

Agriculture Major Jimmy Holtschlag Named a NCAA Postgraduate Scholar

Agriculture major and senior football player, Jimmy Holtschlag, has received numerous athletic and academic awards throughout his career. He will now add to the already impressive list one of the most impressive honors given out by the NCAA. Read more.

Fall 2013 Spotlights

Handegan takes over as FFA adviser, ag teacher for Mattoon High School

Veronica Handegan, a 2011 graduate of the Agriculture program at Western Illinois University, will be the new ag teacher at Mattoon High School. After graduating from Western Veronica was the ag instructor at Edinburg for a year and a half.

Spring 2013 Spotlights

Dr. Andrew Baker Named Interim Director

Dr. Andrew Baker has been named the Interim Director of the School of Agriculture effective July 1, 2013 ... to read more click here.

Ten Agricultural Scholars Initiated into Alpha Zeta

Ten scholars from the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University were initiated into Illinois Gamma chapter of Alpha Zeta at a ceremony and dinner held April 30. Alpha Zeta is the professional agricultural and natural resources organization dedicated to the highest levels of scholarship, leadership, integrity and service.

Following the initiation ceremony, the entire chapter enjoyed dinner together at the home of Professor William C Bailey and Carolyn Bailey.

2013 Farm Expo

The 43rd annual WIU Farm Expo was held on February 9th and 10th and was a huge success for the Ag Mechanization Club. To prepare for the show in February the members of the club worked extremely hard to put the event together. This year all booth spaces were filled with over 150 vendors from across Illinois and surrounding states. The two day event also welcomed hundreds of visitors and various guest speakers from the surrounding areas. This year's keynote speaker during opening ceremonies was Mr. Alan Jarand, the Director of Radio at RFD TV. Without the help from the School of Agriculture and the dedicated students this show would not be possible. The Ag Mech Club would like to thank everyone that volunteered their time to make this year's show a success!

March Students of the Month

Rebecca Stokes, from Macomb, Illinois and Quintin Bucher, from Marietta, Illinois, are both Senior Animal Science Majors. They were nominated by Ms. Samantha Cunningham for their: demonstrated leadership and recruitment skills during the Bull Sale; demonstrated commitment to their academics; enthusiasm and willingness to support fellow students; active participation in their sorority/fraternity and numerous Ag clubs; and their overall passion and commitment to Agriculture.

Congratulations to Rebecca and Quintin on being selected as the March Agriculture Students of the Month!

Agricultural Students Tour Australia

Students from the School of Agriculture returned from their study abroad trip to Australia on Monday, March 18.  They departed Macomb on March 6 for Sydney, Australia.  Following several days in Sydney, the group, led by Associate Professor Tom Bruening, headed into the interior of the country, visiting sheep stations, Charles Sturt University, wineries, rice farms and a variety of other agricultural activities.

February Students of the Month

Sam Dolbeare, from Louisiana, Missouri, is a Junior Agriculture Business Major and Michael Lee, from Monmouth, Illinois, is a Junior Animal Science Major. They were nominated by Dr. Andrew Baker for their demonstrated leadership skills and coming to the aid of a fellow student during a medical emergency.

Congratulations to Sam and Michael on being chosen as the February Agriculture Students of the Month!

January Student of the Month

Daniel Mitchell, from Colchester, Illinois, is a Junior Agriculture Business Major minoring in Agriculture Technology Management. He was nominated by Dr. Bart Gill for his exceptional skills as the Ag Mech Clubs VP of Expo Operations. He managed the entire registration process for the 2013 Ag Expo, organized and maintained accurate records of all exhibitors, and encouraged participation of fellow club members. While doing all of this Daniel demonstrated excellent leadership skills.

Congratulations to Daniel on being chosen as the January Agriculture Student of the Month!

WIU Post-Secondary Agriculture Students Place at State!

On February 2, 2013 eight students competed at the Annual Spring PAS Conference in Springfield, IL. The results of the conference are below.

Riley Hintzsche- 1st place Ag Education CPA
Craig Shehorn- 1st place Ag Sales CPA
Ben Shriver- 1st place Career Progress-Ag Business & 3rd place Individual in Soils Specialist
Ben Shriver & Christy Miller- 2nd Place in Soils Specialist

Sarah Ziegler & Sarah Farmer also competed in Soils Specialist, while Elizabeth Bollin competed in Prepared Speaking and Shriver competed in Impromptu Speaking.

Shehorn, Shriver, Miller, Bolin, and Jennifer Honnold also competed in College Bowl.

Students will now prepare for the national conference March 18-21 in Louisville, KY. Hintzche, Shehorn, Shriver, and Miller will join Daniel Mitchell, Aaron Prins, Ziegler and Stephanie Nelson who qualified at the Fall PAS Conference to compose the WIU national team. Congrats Aggies!!!

"The Voice of Rural America" Trent Loos

Please join us on Tuesday, February 19 at 10 am in the Sandburg Theater as we witness Mr. Trent Loos' message on American Agriculture.

Trent is a sixth generation agriculturist raised nearby in Quincy, Illinois. Currently, Trent and his family reside on a farm in Central Nebraska where they raise cattle, hogs, horses, and meat goats. Aside from farming, Trent airs a radio broadcast, writes columns, keeps a blog, and travels the country speaking up and out about agriculture.

According to Trent's website (, "In 2008, Trent was recognized as the 'Voice of Rural America' by the West Quest organization for his ground-breaking work in advocating for agriculture and speaking on behalf of the folks who would rather stay home and tend to their crops and livestock than take on those attacking their life-sustaining industry.

Hosting Trent on campus is an outstanding opportunity for the Western Illinois University community and its surrounding area. He will not only inspire current agriculture enthusiasts to become better advocates for their industry, but he will also educate citizens on what agriculture is, what it does, and where it is going.  Please help us welcome Mr. Trent Loos to Macomb on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

If you would like more information about Trent, please visit his website ( or his blog (

If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Samantha Cunningham at 309/298-1288 or or Dr. Bart Gill at 309/298-2395 or

November Student of the Month

Dustin Baker, from Mahomet, Illinois, is a Senior Agriculture Business major. He was nominated by Dr. Kevin Bacon for his exceptional fiscal management of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He manages a $250,000 annual budget, investigated cost cutting measures and tracking of payments to improve management of the fraternity. He also served on the Smokin' Hog Committee to support community development and was on the summer 2012 Dean's List.

Congratulations to Dustin on being selected as the November Agriculture Student of the Month!

October Student of the Month

James Holtschlag, from Quincy, Illinois, is a Senior Animal Science major minoring in Pre-Veterinary. He was nominated by Ms. Samantha Cunningham for his leadership on the football field, academic achievements and strong commitment to volunteering. James is a member of the WIU football team starting for 3 seasons. He has an exemplary performance in the laboratory and classroom with an overall 4.0 GPA. He also volunteers in community outreach in organizations like Rocky's Reach.

Congratulations to James on being selected as the October Agriculture Student of the Month!

WIU Student Places First at Horticulture Conference

Western Illinois University senior Noelle Woodruff placed first in a plant judging contest at the Mid American Collegiate Horticulture Society (MACHS) 40th annual conference, held at South Dakota State University in Brookings.

Woodruff (Cuba, IL), an agriculture major with a minor in natural resource conservation, attended the MACHS conference with five of her fellow WIU horticulture club members and the club sponsor, Marietta Loehrlein, professor of agriculture.

Loehrlein explained that the plant judging consists of 20 stations. Each station has four versions of a given plant, which might include plants such as cut flowers, shrubs, trees or fruit. The students judge which version might be best to buy or sell.

"Even though it was a nine-hour drive, we got to get to know each other better, which was a great bonding experience for the club," Woodruff said. "It was a great experience, and we got to learn about a lot of different things while visiting some of the local businesses. We went to a garlic farm, a vineyard, botanical gardens and a wholesale florist."

The WIU Horticulture Club was created to educate and promote horticulture on campus. The club strives to provide fellowship among individuals with horticulture interests, as well as to beautify and preserve nature. The students involved have also helped with the Cans Across America food drive, Toys for Tots, the Angel Tree and some community service projects, such as adding different plants along local highways.

For more information regarding the conference or the horticulture club, contact Dr. Loehrlein at (309) 298-1089 or via email at

Gloria Lynn Selected as Student of the Month

Gloria Lynn, from Rushville, Illinois, is a Junior Agricultural Science major minoring in Horticulture. She was nominated by Dr. Mari Loehrlein for her exemplary leadership as the Hort Club President. She worked hard to organize field trips to the Mid-America Clubs of Horticulture Society meetings in Minnesota and South Dakota. She spearheaded fundraising and recruitment efforts for the Hort Club. Gloria also assisted in developing and implementing a campus beautification project entitled, "Knoblauch Hall Enclosure Garden" where a tree and mums have been planted just west of Knoblauch Hall. To the right Gloria is pictured with Dr. Bailey receiving her award.

Congratulations to Gloria on being selected as the September Agriculture Student of the Month!

Growmark Scholars Honored in Chicago

Four School of Agriculture students were recently honored at the Growmark Annual meeting at the Hilton Chicago on August 30 and 31. In addition to the Western scholarship winners, about 1,000 farm and agribusiness leaders, primarily from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ontario were in attendance at the annual meeting.

The winners were, from left to right, Riley Hintzsche, Lindenwood, IL, Darcie Rahe, Bluffs, IL, Haley Pfaffe, Ashland, IL, and Katharine Parker, Ursa, IL. Professor William Bailey, Director of the School of Agriculture, accompanied the students.

WIU CFFA/PAS/AGED Club Breaks Record Numbers at Conference!

On September 11th the WIU/CFFA/PAS/AGED Club held there annual Greenhand Conference at Macomb Jr./Sr. High School with great results. A record number of 308 students attended the fun filled event that showcased opportunities with the FFA organization. Member Kaylyn Schiber, Kyle Wood, Liz Fanning, Trent Taber, Riley Hintzche and Jennifer Honnold conducted workshops during the event highlighting FFA career development events, conferences and conventions and leadership. Building off the theme of "Growing for the Gold" all attendees created a plan of action for the FFA careers and took home a gold medal for their efforts. Also at the event was current national FFA officer candidate and past state FFA treasurer, Clayton Carley.Carley delivered a motivational speech on reaching for the goal and striving for success as a FFA member. To the right is Carley giving his presentation. WIU CFFA/PAS/AGED Club is looking forward to expanding and intensifying the Greenhand Conference in the coming years!

Ag Alum, AGR and AZ Member, Honored by Industry

Gerry Salzman, who graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics, is now Senior Director, Global Product Marketing Management, and oversees all worldwide product and marketing activities for Case IH harvesting equipment. Those responsibilities include defining product positions, coordination of future product needs, and consolidation of commercial objectives globally. He also served six years in the U.S. Army Reserves. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho (Brother of the Century Recognition) and Alpha Zeta fraternities and is a graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program. He is also a patent award recipient.

Initially, he worked 14 years for International Harvester in sales, marketing and product management. He was involved in the launch of the first Axial-Flow combines, as well as subsequent combine lines.

In his 26 years with Case IH, he has held positions in product development of combines, grain platforms and cotton pickers, marketing and product management of crop harvesting, hay and forage, and construction equipment. He is active, too, in the industry. He has served as chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the U.S. Grains Council and also the Agri-Business Forum of the Council. During the U.S. Grains Councils 52nd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting, he was awarded the prestigio9us Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his commitment to go above and beyond for the good of the organization. He represents the agribusiness sector of the Council and brings a unique set of skills to the Board. In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the USGC and was reelected in 2009. He currently serves on the Membership and Communications Advisory Team.

Largest Goat Test in the US Underway at the WIU Farm

The 2012 School of Agriculture Goat Test is underway at the School's Testing facility at the Western Illinois University Farm. A record 44 test animals, up from last year's previous record of 25, are taking part in the test. With 44 animals participating, the School's Goat Test is the largest confinement test in the country. Goats from as far away as Nevada and Mississippi are taking part.

According to Paul Miller, a Rushville, Illinois goat rancher, who is assisting in the test, breeds represented are Boer, Kiko, Savanna, Spanish and several cross breeds. Mr. Miller said that of the Illinois goats participating, the furthest north origination is Sycamore with Carlinville the southernmost point represented. The weight of the goats ranged from 37 pounds to 86 pounds.

During the almost 3 months the goats are at the School's Test facility, the amount of feed they consume and the amount of weight they gain will be closely monitored. The Test evaluates which goat is best able to convert feed into muscle.

Ember Keithley Awarded an Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit

Ember L. Keithley, Academic Advisor, School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, has been selected as an Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit recipient in the Academic Advising -- Primary Role category from the National Academic Advising Association as part of the 2012 Annual Awards Program for Academic Advising.

This award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated qualities associated with outstanding academic advising of students or outstanding academic advising administration. The Academic Advising -- Primary Role category includes those individuals whose primary role at the institution is the direct delivery of advising services to students.

Since 1983, NACADA has honored individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising. The goal of NACADA is to promote quality academic advising and professional development of its membership to enhance the educational development of students.

NACADA's membership has grown to over 10,000 faculty, professional advisors, administrators, counselors, and others in academic and student affairs concerned with the intellectual, personal, and vocational needs of students. In addition, NACADA is the representative and advocate of academic advising and those providing that service to higher education.

Keithley will be honored and presented with this award in Nashville, Tennessee during the NACADA Annual Conference this fall.