U Of I College Of Agriculture Dean Visits Area Extensions
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Kimberlee Kidwell has been on a mission for the past year to visit all the Illinois Extension units across the state.
She has been learning more about Extension, its relationship with the College of ACES and the local communities Extension serves.
On March 21, Dean Kidwell and Kimberly Meenen, assistant dean of Advancement for the College of ACES, toured the local Illinois Extension unit that serves Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties. Illinois Extension Regional Director Julie Ritchey also joined the tour group, which was led by local County Extension Director Jill Gebke.
The group started their day at the Mt. Vernon Community Garden. The garden is a collaborative project between Extension staff, Jefferson County Master Gardeners, the Mt. Vernon City Council, Mt. Vernon community members, and volunteers.
After hearing about the planning process and different groups involved in the success of the Mt. Vernon Community Garden, Dean Kidwell shared, “This is a beautiful example of the community being aware of what Extension can do.”
The second stop of the day was in rural Shattuc at the Wiedle farm.
The College of ACES tour group joined local 4-H staff members, 4-H members and Extension Council members for lunch at the Clinton County Extension Office in Breese.
Following lunch, the group had an opportunity to take a tour of Excel Bottling in Breese before heading to Germantown Elementary School. Ashley Hoffman, visiting SNAP-Ed educator has been working with the food service staff at Germantown Elementary School as part of the Smarter Lunchroom program. This program offers ways for schools to encourage students to eat healthier and reduce food waste.
From there the trip turned back south to Trinity Lutheran School in Hoyleton.
The dean had a chance to visit with seventh and eighth grade students who participate in a robotics program facilitated by their teacher, Steve Kasten. The robotics program at the school started as an after school group through 4-H and has grown to be a part of the science curriculum. The students had a chance to demonstrate some of the robots they’ve built and programmed. Kasten explained, “It isn’t just that they’re learning to build and program the robots, they’re learning to follow the directions and complete something start to finish.”
The final stop for the day was the Finke Dairy farm outside of Nashville.
Craig and Tricia Finke operate the fifth generation dairy farm. Their farm was one of the first in the nation to have a fully-automated milking production system. It uses robotic milking machines, an automated feeding system, and an alleyway flushing system for manure removal. The use of these automated systems allows Finke to focus on managing the cows, rather than physically taking care of the cows.