URBANA, Ill. – Understanding available financial tools, how to use credit wisely, and investment strategies can help minimize debt and increase wealth. These and other money-management strategies will be presented in six free “Get $savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff” webinars, designed especially for the challenges faced by college students and young adults.
“Young adults need quality unbiased financial education to help them establish strong financial roots,” said University of Illinois Extension consumer economics educator Kathy Sweedler, who is coordinating the webinars. “Although this is true of adults at all ages, it’s especially true for those who have tried to enter the job force since the Great Recession. They’re up against high unemployment rates and saddled with significant student loan debt. The Project on Student Debt reported that the average amount of debt was $28,028.”
Registration is available at http://go.uillinois.edu/GetSavvyRegistration. Individuals can register for one webinar or all six and “attend” from any computer with Internet access.
All six webinars will be offered on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. CST.
Dates and topics are:
Sept. 16 - Establishing your Roots
Explore the merits of various financial tools, such as a checking account, prepaid card, debit card, savings account, or a combination.
Oct. 21 - Staying on Good Terms with Credit
Learn how to choose the best credit cards and loans and how to avoid common debt mistakes.
Nov. 11 - Steps Toward Investing
Stocks, bonds, IRAs and other investing adventures
Jan. 27, 2015 - Life Transitions
Financial tools to help proactively manage life changes, such as moving, relationships, and new jobs
Feb. 24 - Job Benefits
Job benefits, such as retirement plans and health care, can significantly change an individual’s net worth. Learn how to make the most of the options.
April 21 - Love Your Loan
Student loans can be confusing and many repayment options exist. This webinar will explore some of the choices.
The webinars are hosted by University of Illinois Extension and University Student Financial Services and Cashier Operation’s Student Money Management Center.
The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture presented by Gerald Nelson
Monsanto Room, College of ACES Library
The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture:
“Global Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate”
Presented by Gerald Nelson
Gerald Nelson is Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jerry was the principal author of the report “Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in May 2014. He most recently served as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC where he coordinated its climate change research, led the policy analysis activities of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, and was the principal investigator on major projects on food security and climate change issues funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the German and British aid agencies.
His research includes global modeling of the interactions among agriculture, land use, and climate change; consequences of macro-economic, sector and trade policies and climate change on land use and the environment using remotely sensed, geographic and socioeconomic data; and the assessment of the effects of genetically modified crops on the environment. Jerry was the coordinating lead author of the Drivers chapter of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios work. Previously, he was Professor in the Department of Agricultural Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, served as Visiting Scholar at the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was Specialist and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines. Jerry has been quoted in many publications, including the Economist, The New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, and the Tehran Times.
The International Food Security Initiative (IFSI), a new program of the Office of International Programs at the College of ACES, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, seeks to focus the expertise and resources of the University of Illinois to address the global challenge of ensuring that all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to achieve their human potential.
ACE Graduate Research Celebration
Monsanto Room, LIAC
Looking for a corn consumption response
URBANA, Ill. – With the start of the new marketing year only a week away, the process of monitoring corn consumption and corn consumption prospects in the three major categories of feed, ethanol, and exports is under way. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, not much is known about consumption prospects as the ongoing process of updating expectations begins.
“In the case of feed and residual use of corn, the USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks reports are the only source of data on actual consumption,” said Darrel Good. “The Sept. 1, 2014, corn stocks estimate to be released on Sept. 30 will allow the calculation of the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn for the final quarter of the 2013-14 marketing year and will provide some guidance for potential use during the year ahead. Expectations of feed use for the year will be derived primarily from weekly, monthly, and quarterly USDA reports of livestock and poultry inventories. Feed use of corn will not receive much support from the beef sector. The liquidation of the cow herd and the smaller calf crops of the past few years mean there are fewer cattle available for feeding, and that deficit will continue for an extended period. The USDA reported that for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more, there were 2 percent fewer cattle on feed as of August 1 this year than on August 1 last year. Seven percent fewer cattle were placed on feed during July 2014 than during July 2013,” Good said.
Good said that the poultry and dairy sectors appear to be experiencing some very modest expansion. The USDA reported that the number of broiler chicks placed for meat production during the two weeks ended August 16 was up 2 and 1 percent, respectively, compared to placements of a year earlier. “Two weeks do not constitute a trend so that placements will continue to be followed closely to determine if expansion is actually under way,” Good said. The average number of layers has been running 1 to 2 percent above those of a year ago each month this year. The USDA also reported that milk cow numbers in 23 selected states were up about 1 percent in July.
According to Good, the most uncertainty about livestock production comes from the hog sector. The USDA reported that the June 1 inventory of market hogs was 5 percent smaller than the inventory of a year earlier, but producers expected to increase the number of sows farrowed by 4 percent in the June-September quarter. Production prospects continue to be clouded by the ongoing impact of the PED virus on the number of pigs actually weaned. The USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report showed a 7 percent year-over-year decline in hog slaughter in July. That decline was partially offset by a 5 percent increase in average slaughter weight. The USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report to be released on Sept. 26 will provide additional information about pork production prospects during the 2014-15 corn marketing year. Good said that because feed consumption of corn includes an unknown and sometimes surprising residual component, only the quarterly stocks estimates will provide a measure of actual disappearance.
“It now appears that domestic ethanol production during the 2013-14 corn marketing year will reach a record 14.15 billion gallons, about 2.5 percent more than produced in 2011-12 and about 10 percent more than produced in 2012-13,” Good reported. Corn consumed for ethanol production during the marketing year just ending will be near 5.13 billion bushels. “As indicated two weeks ago, ethanol production and corn consumption during the year ahead should continue to be supported at a high level, with the strength of exports likely to determine whether expansion continues,” he said. Export data are revealed monthly, with a lag of about six weeks.
Sales of U.S. corn for export during the 2014-15 marketing year were reported at 365 million bushels as of August 14. Sales are about 50 million bushels smaller than those of a year ago, but about 60 million bushels larger than the average for the years 2008 through 2012, Good said. He explained that last year, China had purchased 117 million bushels of U.S corn, compared to essentially none this year. Sales to unknown destinations are also down about 40 million bushels. On the other hand, sales to Japan and South American destinations are larger than those of a year ago. Total export sales as of August 14 accounted for 21 percent of the USDA’s projection of total marketing-year exports, about the same as sales of a year earlier.
“The level of export sales to date is in line with USDA’s projection of exports for the year,” Good said. “However, the seasonal pattern of sales varies from year to year so that it is not yet known whether the current level of sales reflects only timing decisions or is indicative of total export potential.
“There are some early signs that corn consumption during the year ahead will increase modestly in response to lower prices,” Good concluded. “However, that response is not yet large enough to offset the impact of the market expectation of an even larger corn crop than was forecast by USDA two weeks ago. Corn prices are expected to stay under some pressure at least through the USDA’s Sept. 11 Crop Production report. The size of the corn crop forecast in that report will be important in determining where the low may be in the corn market,” he said.
Illinois scientists work with World Health Organization on fortifying condiments, seasonings
URBANA, Ill. – Two University of Illinois scientists are contributing to World Health Organization (WHO) efforts to fortify condiments and seasonings for use in countries with widespread micronutrient deficiencies.
“In some countries where these deficiencies are widespread, there is consistent use—almost a daily dose—of certain condiments and seasonings, such as soy sauce in Southeast Asia, at all socioeconomic levels, and there’s a real opportunity to correct deficiencies by fortifying these food items,” said Luis A. Mejia, a U of I adjunct professor in food science and human nutrition.
According to Mejia, micronutrient deficiencies affect the health and cognitive development of at least one-third of the world’s population, representing 7.3 percent of all global disease. The World Bank has called micronutrient fortification the most cost-effective of all health interventions.
"Just as iodine deficiency has been controlled for many years in the U.S. through salt fortification, we now hope to offer a framework to enrich foods with iron, vitamin A, and other micronutrients in the developing world. Pregnant women are particularly in need of folic acid and zinc to deliver healthy children,” said Allyson Bower, a doctoral student in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Micronutrient deficiencies are a real problem in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia; and they also occur in West Africa and in Central America, she added.
Mejia pioneered the fortification of sugar with vitamin A in Guatemala as a scientist at the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), and the program was later expanded to the rest of Central America. Because no single condiment or seasoning is consumed regularly there, sugar was chosen as the vehicle for enrichment.
“Fighting micronutrient deficiencies in this way hinges on finding a suitable food to fortify, and the vehicle chosen is usually a prominent part of the diet in a particular culture. Soy and fish sauces are promising vehicles in Southeast Asia, but bouillon cubes are better suited to West Africa and curry powder would be a better choice in India and Pakistan,” Bower said.
When a suitable condiment or seasoning is chosen, the legal framework that surrounds fortification becomes important. That’s what the two researchers are working on now.
“For example, Vietnam has a soy sauce fortification program, but Indonesia doesn’t. Indonesia does have regulations that allow fortification of wheat flour, margarine, and rice, but not condiments. So we can tell WHO that the legal framework is present in Indonesia and recommend that the organization expand its efforts there,” Mejia said.
Bower is excited about the opportunity to be involved in this project because it has global implications. “Sometimes it seems that the research you’re doing can only be applied at a certain ‘niche’ level, but when you’re working with the WHO, you know they’re going to take what you do and apply it to something that’s long-term and worthwhile. It’s especially rewarding to work on a project like this,” she said.
Mejia and Bower will contribute their recommendations to a WHO meeting in New York August 26-28. Elvira de Mejia, another U of I food science and human nutrition professor, and her collaborators, Yolanda Aguilera and Maria Martin of the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, will submit recommendations on industrial processing of condiments and seasonings worldwide.
Other research teams are investigating the bioavailability of micronutrients in fortified foods, their efficacy, the stability of the added ingredients in foods, and economic feasibility, among other concerns. All findings in the WHO’s Fortification of Condiments and Seasonings with Vitamins and Minerals in Public Health: From Proof of Concept to Scaling Up will be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science.
Goutam Nistala, a 2010 graduate of agricultural and biological engineering (ABE), enjoys being involved with cutting-edge technology and dynamic research.
“Knowing that my work is of direct help in detecting early-stage cancer in a diagnostic lab somewhere gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment,” he says.
Goutam says that the classes and research opportunities at the University of Illinois were instrumental in setting him up for a career in science.
“The interdisciplinary PhD program and collaborative nature of research in Dr. Kaustubh Bhalerao’s group at the Department of ABE helped me in developing a core research expertise and skill set.” Goutam says. “Graduate advisors with a vast and well-connected research network encouraged me in gaining industry experience through graduate internships and, most importantly, in transitioning to a postdoctoral career at Stanford University.”
Goutam says he enjoyed the multicultural experience that the University of Illinois offers, as well as the very active student life. His extracurricular activities helped him get insights into research as well as the business aspects of the biotech industry.
“Renowned faculty who are experts in their fields, and well-funded make U of I an ideal place for education and research,” Goutam says. “The quality of classes and exercises to reinforce concepts is great. I believe that the U of I has the great culture of fostering research through collaboration.”
When she first visited the University of Illinois, Molly Messner, now a student in agricultural and consumer economics (ACE), was impressed by all the options the ACE major offers. Although Molly does not come from an agricultural background, she was immediately interested in the public policy and law concentration and learning more about trade and development and rural economics.
“I was looking forward to getting a taste of economics with a mix of political science, business, and communications classes,” Molly says. “This led me to eventually choose business and communications as my two minors, because they complement the public policy and law concentration well.”
Molly says that in addition to the variety available in her classes, she enjoys the small, close-knit community that ACE offers. She attributes much of her academic success to the accessibility of College of ACES advisors and the resources they can provide.
“U of I has prepared me for my future career path through my education in various sectors of policy, and I have benefited from both coursework and out-of-class experiences,” Molly says. “I am interested in working for the government, and it is through my classes, peers, and advisors that I am aware of the plentiful opportunities available for internships and jobs in Washington, DC.”
On campus, Molly is a Jonathan Baldwin Turner scholar, a resident advisor, and a member of a social sorority. She also plays on the women’s ultimate frisbee club team. She has served as an ACE ambassador, worked as a Campus Recreation lifeguard, and studied abroad through ACES.
“When I first visited, I was very intimidated by the number of people on this campus,” Molly says. “But there are many ways to stand out and not feel like a small fish lost in a big pond. I have had the greatest learning experiences through participating outside of the classroom.”