College of ACES
College News

Plan to attend U of I Agronomy Day 2015

Published April 27, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Mark your calendars for an opportunity to discover the latest findings in crop sciences during the 59th annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 20.

"From the school’s beginnings, agronomic research has always been conducted on or near the University of Illinois," said Bob Dunker, agronomist and superintendent of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center and chairperson for Agronomy Day. “The first Agronomy Day held in 1957 had the same objective as the one you will attend this year—to communicate research results that benefit our constituents.”

Nearly 1,000 visitors are expected to attend Agronomy Day at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus, located south of the U of I's main Urbana-Champaign campus off St. Mary's Road on South Wright Street Extended. Researchers will discuss a variety of topics from soil fertility to insect management, crop production, weed control, corn and soybean genetics, plant diseases, farm economics, and agricultural engineering.

Agronomy Day begins at 7 a.m. Field tours depart from the St. Mary's location, making stops at research plots and repeating every half-hour until noon. Lunch is available for a nominal charge.  The exhibition tent will feature exhibits by ACES programs, commercial vendors, research posters, and student clubs.

More information and registration can be found at or by contacting Sue Overmyer at 217-300-3702 or

News Source:

Bob Dunker, 217-244-5444

U of I Extension hosts bird flu conference call

Published April 24, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Although the bird flu virus has not yet been reported in Illinois, its presence in several midwestern states is close enough to home to cause concern. University of Illinois Extension will host a one-hour conference call to address questions about avian influenza.

Information will be shared on topics such as, how to identify the virus, how to limit risk to a flock, and what to do if birds are infected. Poultry producers, backyard chicken enthusiasts, and others who are interested in learning more about the virus are invited to join the live conference call:

Thursday, April 30, at 1 p.m. CST.

888-983-3631, passcode 86333472#

Poultry experts on the call will be:

Ken Koelkebeck, Ph.D., University of Illinois

Kyle Cecil, Ed.D., University of Illinois Extension

Andrew Larson, M.S., M.B.A., University of Illinois Extension

For those unable to join the call live, an audio archive  will be available at




Study determines nutritional value of canola oil co-products when fed to pigs

Published April 24, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Rapeseed and canola are popular oilseed crops and co-products from these crops are increasingly used in livestock diets as a source of protein. Research at the University of Illinois is helping to determine the nutritional value of canola oil co-products fed to pigs.

"Breeding programs in North America and Europe have focused on selecting varieties of canola and rapeseed with low concentrations of erucic acids and glucosinolates," said Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at the U of I. "We wanted to compare the co-products from the North American and European varieties, as well as determine effects of processing on the nutritional value of the co-products."

Rapeseed that is low in erucic acid and glucosinolates is referred to as 00-rapeseed in Europe and canola in North America. Removing the oil from rapeseed via solvent extraction, results in 00-rapeseed (or canola) meal, and removing the oil via expeller extraction, results in 00-rapeseed expellers. Stein and his team tested canola meal from North America, 00-rapeseed meal from Europe, and 00-rapeseed expellers from Europe.

In one experiment, they determined the digestibility of amino acids in the three products. There was no difference in amino acid digestibility between canola meal and 00-rapeseed meal, with the exception of valine, cysteine, and glutamic acid.

In a second experiment, concentrations of digestible and metabolizable energy in the three coproducts were determined. As with amino acid digestibility, no difference in energy concentrations between canola meal and rapeseed meal was observed.

"The chemical composition of the seeds from plants grown in Europe and North America doesn't appear to differ despite their different origins." Stein said.

However, differences between 00-rapeseed meal and 00-rapeseed expellers were observed. All amino acids except threonine, tryptophan, and glycine were more digestible in 00-rapeseed expellers than in 00-rapeseed meal. The mean digestibility of all amino acids was 71.9 percent in 00-rapeseed meal and 74.4 percent in 00-rapeseed expellers. Also, 00-rapeseed expellers contained 7.6 percent more digestible energy and 7.7 percent more metabolizable energy than 00-rapeseed meal.

Stein said that the differences in amino acid digestibility and energy concentration were due to the oil remaining in the 00-rapeseed expellers after processing. "Expeller extraction is less efficient at removing oil than solvent extraction so the 00-rapeseed expellers contained more fat than the meals," he said. "Fat contributes energy to the diets, and it also slows passage of digesta in the intestinal tract, which allows for more absorption of amino acids."

Stein also cited possible heat damage in processing as a factor that might have reduced amino acid digestibility in 00-rapeseed meal.

Both studies were recently published in the Journal of Animal Science. The energy study, "Digestibility of energy and detergent fiber and digestible and metabolizable energy values in canola meal, 00-rapeseed meal, and 00-rapeseed expellers fed to growing pigs," was co-authored by Tanawong Maison and Yanhong Liu of the University of Illinois.It is available online at amino acid study, co-authored by Maison, is entitled "Digestibility by growing pigs of amino acids in canola meal from North America and 00-rapeseed meal and 00-rapeseed expellers from Europe." It is available online at

Mary Wilson
I wanted to do my best to make U of I feel more like a second home to me, and I knew that getting more involved in extracurricular activities would help.
Peoria, IL
Working with animals has always been something enjoyable for animal sciences major, Mary Wilson. Coming to the University of Illinois and living in dorms without pets, Mary felt a sort of emptiness.
“Since I was living in the dorm at the time, I wanted to have a chance to interact with animals, so I quickly joined the Companion Animals Club (CAC),” Mary says. “As I started attending meetings, I also began to make new friends that had the same interests as I did, but not everyone was an animal sciences major. I really enjoyed making new friends outside my major because most of my classes involve the same animal sciences students.”
Finding new friends was not the only benefit with the club.  Mary gained many new leadership opportunities through CAC, too.
“I wanted to do my best to make U of I feel more like a second home to me, and I knew that getting more involved in extracurricular activities would help,” Mary says. “I became a board member for CAC my second semester because I wanted to be involved in the club more and help make the small club expand by becoming the publicity director.”
Mary went on to become the president of the club. She has worked to implement a monthly guest speaker at meetings, and community outreach programs with them, too. 
“Our volunteer opportunities give members a chance to work with animals in need that are outside of Champaign so we can venture to different types of shelters and animal facilities,” Mary says. “Reaching out beyond the campus boarders has been extremely beneficial for anyone in CAC because of the various opportunities for hands on animal experience.”

NRES Achieves Certification in Green Office Initiative

Published April 23, 2015
NRES Achieves Silver Certification in the Green Office Initiative
NRES Achieves Silver Certification in the Green Office Initiative

On Earth Day, NRES was recognized as a Silver Certified Green Office as part of the iSEE Certified Green Office Initiative! Accepting the award for the department was Dr. Kevin McSweeney. NRES team members were Manuel Colon, Dr. McSweeney, Lezli Cline, Martha Parish and Karen Claus.

There were twenty-four participating offices across campus, who all agreed to the five basic commitments to become a Certified Green Office: appoint a Sustainability Ambassador; adopt a sustainable travel policy; use 30% recycled-content and FSC-certified paper; identify, label and communicate the location of office recycling stations; and turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics.

Thank you to everyone who helped in the effort to achieve this certification, by committing to reduce our department's carbon footprint!!

News Source:

Manuel Colon, 217-300-4640
Additional Images:
Maverick Woodside
Horticulture Club has many benefits, and some I may not realize until my time at the university is up.
Littleton, IL
The University of Illinois has a wide array of opportunities for its students, many of them registered student organizations. Maverick Woodside, a horticulture major, believes the Horticulture Club offers great value to students because of the people they are able to work alongside.
“Horticulture Club has many benefits, and some I may not realize until my time at the university is up,” Maverick says. “For starters, the faculty, students, and staff that we work with, and in particular the College of ACES, are the best you will find. Their passion for students and education burns strong, and they instill those same values into our club. We are truly lucky to have them.”
Another club positive is the chance for students to work around something they are passionate about: horticulture.
“The club provides an arena for students who are interested in and passionate about the same things to interact and ultimately form relationships that extend beyond the limits of Champaign-Urbana,” Maverick says. 
Reaching beyond the limits through Horticulture Club has been possible for Maverick serving as the clubs president. 
“Through the Horticulture Club I have accumulated skills that apply directly to the professional world,” Maverick says, “things like working in a team environment, talking to other professionals via numerous forms of communication, managing a budget, public speaking. . . . The list goes on and on.”

ACES alumna Tatyana McFadden wins third straight Boston Marathon

Published April 23, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Former University of Illinois wheelchair athlete and College of ACES human development and family studies alumna Tatyana McFadden won her third straight Boston Marathon Monday with a time of 1 hour, 52 minutes, 54 seconds. Susannah Scaroni, an ACES dietetics alumna, finished third with a time of 1:57:21, giving the United States—and College of ACES alumni—two racers in the top three.

McFadden, 25, wore a singlet in memory of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old boy who was killed in the 2013 finish-line bombing.

McFadden is a four-time Paralympian and the reigning champion of the Chicago, New York City, and London Marathons. She also finished second in the 1-kilometer Nordic skiing sprint in the 2014 Paralympics.

In an earlier interview, third-place winner Scaroni , who graduated in 2014, credited the U of I with having the top wheelchair athletes program in the country, possibly the world.

“I’m at the best place I could be as a wheelchair athlete and as a dietetics major who wants to go into sports nutrition. At the U of I, I’m surrounded by elite wheelchair athletes, and our training schedules are built into our school schedules. It means the world to me,” Scaroni said.

McFadden, who graduated from the U of I in 2013 as a child life specialist, agreed. “At the U of I, a lot of us were Paralympic athletes so it was a great group of people to train with. We pushed each other every day. It’s a lot of fun at practice and prepares you for races like these,” she said.



Black cutworm moth captures reported in several midwestern states

Published April 22, 2015
Champaign County field considered a prime target for black cutworm moth egg laying, April 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of Mike Gray, University of Illinois.

URBANA, Ill. - Although no intense flights (nine or more moths caught over a two-day period) of black cutworm moths have been reported, captures of this species have been common in several Illinois counties and states, said a University of Illinois Extension entomologist.

Mike Gray said that impressive flights of black cutworm and armyworm moths have been reported by Doug Johnson an Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky. Entomologists at Purdue University also have received reports that black cutworm moth captures are now common in many areas of Indiana.

He added that Kelly Estes, agricultural pest survey coordinator with the Illinois Natural History Survey, has established a network of trapping cooperators across Illinois. Over the past two weeks, captures have been reported in the following Illinois counties: Champaign, Fayette, Logan, Lee, Macon, Macoupin, and Madison.

“This distribution of captures suggests that black cutworm moth flights have likely taken place throughout Illinois and growers are encouraged to remain vigilant for early signs of leaf feeding when corn seedlings begin to emerge,” Gray said. “Today (April 21) strong winds from the south are undoubtedly bringing many black cutworm moths into Illinois, and weedy fields will be prime targets for egg laying by this species.”

For more complete information about the biology, life cycle, and management of black cutworms and armyworms, fact sheets are available from the U of I Department of Crop Sciences.

Gray provided some key life cycle and management facts concerning black cutworms.

  • Black cutworm moths are strong migratory insects with northward flights commonly observed from the Gulf States into the Midwest from March through May.
  • Moths are attracted to fields heavily infested with weeds such as chickweed, shepherd’s purse, peppergrass, and yellow rocket.
  • Late tillage and planting tends to increase the susceptibility of fields to black cutworm infestations.
  • Cutting of corn plants begins when larvae reach the 4th instar, with a single cutworm cutting an average of three to four plants during its larval development.
  • Cutting tends to occur most often during nights or on dark overcast days.
  • Fields at greatest risk to cutting and economic damage are in the 1-to-4 leaf stage of plant development.
  • An early warning sign of potential economic damage includes small pinhole feeding injury in leaves (caused by the first three instars).
  • A nominal threshold of 3 percent cutting of plants has traditionally been used as a point at which growers should consider a rescue treatment.
  • Not all Bt hybrids offer adequate protection against black cutworm damage. Growers should consult the Handy Bt trait table prepared by Dr. Chris DiFonzo at Michigan State University to determine the level of protection provided by their chosen Bt hybrid.

“As the season progresses, if you learn of significant black cutworm infestations, please let me know and I will share this information with the readers of the Bulletin,” Gray added.

Poultry in Midwest infected with bird flu, Illinois prepares

Published April 22, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has been reported in the Midwest, causing illness among poultry and temporarily disrupting deliveries and supplies of eggs. Although the virus has not been seen in Illinois, University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences Professor Kenneth Koelkebeck is alerting poultry farmers in the state so that they can take necessary precautions to avoid infection in their flocks.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the risk of infection to people to be low,” Koelkebeck said. “In fact, no human infections with the virus (subtype H5N2) have ever been detected.” Worldwide, there are many strains of the virus, he said. One is considered to be a low pathogenic virus that occurs naturally in wild birds and migratory waterfowl without causing illness. However, the strain that is occurring in the United States at this time is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

“HPAI is extremely infectious and fatal to chickens and turkeys and can spread rapidly from flock to flock,” Koelkebeck said. “Poultry and egg farmers are on high alert for any signs of the disease in their flocks and will strive to keep their customers informed of any problems associated with this disease.”

Koelkebeck also stressed that the United States has the best avian influenza surveillance program in the world. As part of existing U.S. Department of Agriculture avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as poultry and egg farmers are responding quickly and decisively to these HPAI cases. The five basic steps are: to restrict the movement of poultry into and out of a control area; humanely euthanize the affected birds; test wild and domestic birds in and around quarantined areas; destroy the virus in the affected flock locations; and confirm that the poultry farm is virus-free.

“In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with its partners to actively look and test for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations,” Koelkebeck said.

The virus is most often spread via direct contact between infected birds and healthy birds but may also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated materials and equipment with droppings from infected birds. Consequently, as a precaution, people who keep poultry or have pet birds are encouraged to keep them indoors and avoid contact with waterfowl of any kind, particularly Canada geese.  Waterfowl hunters who own poultry, after returning from the field, should shower and change clothes and shoes before entering poultry houses.

U of I Extension reports that properly prepared poultry and eggs are safe to eat. Even with the virus’s presence in the Midwest, it is unlikely that an infected bird would enter the food supply. Flocks are routinely tested for avian influenza prior to birds or eggs leaving the farm for processing.  Proper cooking kills the avian influenza virus, just as it does many other germs.

The last large outbreak of bird flu was in 2004.




Kirsten Blackford
I love seeing the excitement for new ideas and new adventures that my students are able to experience.
Paxton, Illinois
Working with the future of agriculture every day, Kirsten Blackford never has the same day twice. She chose the University of Illinois ag education program to help her reach her goal of being a high school ag teacher. Kirsten says the program provided her with countless opportunities to meet her future colleagues. 
She believes her experiences with observation and clinical hours throughout college helped her learn her own teaching style and how to be an effective educator. This knowledge makes her job enjoyable for both her students and herself.
“Working with the future of agriculture is a rewarding experience,” Kirsten says. “I love seeing the excitement for new ideas and new adventures that my students are able to experience.”    
During her time in the College of ACES, Kirsten was involved in numerous clubs and organizations, including Sigma Alpha agriculture sorority, Alpha Tau Alpha ag ed honorary, Collegiate FFA, and the Ag Education Club. She believes ACES students and teachers alike share the same passion for agriculture and strive to make the ACES experience the best.
“The University of Illinois demands excellence from each student,” Kirsten says. “This standard drives students to succeed in their academics and is carried into their future careers. Not many people can say they are an Illini.”