SIU’s All Ag Banquet honors students, alumni, faculty and staff

2020 SIU Carbondale Ag Council officers: Officers recognized at the All Ag Banquet on Feb. 28 were front row, from left: Kendra Flood, Sidney Roling, Sarah Dintelmann and Susan Graham, assistant to the dean. Back row from left, are: Tim Weber, Jason Weller, Gavin Edwards and Paxton Morse. (Photos provided)

With a record crowd present, the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently recognized alumni, students and faculty members for their service to the college and the community.

Almost 200 students and more than 200 alumni, donors, legislators and community members attended the 68th annual “All Ag Banquet” on Feb. 28 in the Student Center.

The event recognized several alumni, students, faculty and staff for their work representing SIU.

“It is one of those events where the college becomes a family,” said Kendra Flood, who received the “Outstanding Senior” award. “We have alumni, staff, faculty, and students from all different types of backgrounds and majors in one room for an evening of networking and celebration. It is also a time to meet with alumni who have now become strong agriculturists at different companies and corporations.”

Three alumni receive awards

Three alumni received recognition for their post-graduation work. The Outstanding Alumni Early Career Award, presented to an alumnus who graduated within 10 years, went to John Edgar of Athens, Illinois.

John Edgar, center, receives the Young Alumni Award from William Banz, right, College of Agricultural Sciences and John Kabat, left, College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Board president.

Edgar is a leader in agricultural education in the state and in Illinois Future Farmers of America, an organization of over 19,000 current members. He helped SIU secure a bid to host the Illinois Ag Teachers Conference in June 2021, as well as implement a 212 Leadership Conference that will bring more than 200 FFA students from Southern Illinois to campus in January.

The Outstanding Alumni Mid-Career Award, presented to an alumnus who graduated 11 to 20 years ago, went to Lucas Maxwell.

Lucas Maxwell, center, accepts the Mid-Career Alumni recipient award from William Banz, right, College of Agricultural Sciences and John Kabat, College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Board president.

The Farmer City native returned to the state recently and is now at Illinois State University working with undergraduate and graduate students in agricultural education, communication, and leadership. He is active on the state and national level in agricultural education.

Vernon Caupert received the college’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an alum who graduated more than 21 years ago.

Vernon Caupert, center, receives the Lifetime Career Award from John Kabat, SIU Ag Alumni Association Board president, left, and William Banz, College of Agricultural Sciences.

Caupert, who attended Pinckneyville Community High School, was the first member of his family to attend college by starting at SIU in 1957. He later served in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1965, Caupert started a seed dealership for Pioneer Seed, which he operated for the next 46 years before his retirement in 2012. Caupert has also been involved in various charitable and community roles over the years.

Three receive outstanding student honors

In addition to recognizing notable alumni, three students received honors and a $500 scholarship for their excellent work. A selection committee, with representatives from Farm Credit Illinois, the Beta Alpha Alumni Association of Alpha Gamma Rho and the College of Agricultural Sciences faculty, chose the recipients.

The 2019 Outstanding Sophomore Award went to Jake Kirgan, an Agricultural Systems and Education major with an overall GPA of 3.667. Kirgan, from New Holland, Illinois, is president of the FarmHouse fraternity. An Agbassador, Kirgan assisted the college in recruitment this past year including at the Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield and National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

The 2019 Outstanding Junior Award went to Elizabeth Bland, an SIU Provost Scholar who is majoring in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Management. The Eldred native has maintained a 4.0 GPA while holding numerous volunteer leadership roles.

The 2019 Outstanding Senior Award went to agribusiness economics student Kendra Flood, who won an “outstanding student” honor for three consecutive years. Flood, from Montrose, is completing her major in Agricultural Systems and Education and will soon attend Penn State University to pursue a master’s degree.

The other nominees for outstanding student were:

  • Sophomores: Molly Nancy and Caitlyn Tippy.
  • Juniors: Cierra Crowell, Madison Markley, Taylor Miller, Paxton Morse, Grant Snow, Cody Suddeth, and Jason Weller.
  • Seniors: Sarah Dintelmann, Samuel Ramirez, Sidney Roling, and Jacob Schumacher.

Outstanding student organization recognized

Registered Student Organizations (RSO’s) play an important role in the college and one group is recognized annually for their outstanding participation and campus work. Collegiate FFA and Forestry Club and Conclave Team earned the award this year. The award sponsor is Farm Credit Illinois, which presented both clubs with $500 checks.

Perry earns staff excellence award

Erin Perry, a canine specialist and associate professor, received the Donald M. Elkins Excellence Award. The award originated in 1995, honoring an outstanding staff member who follows the same spirit of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm as the late Elkins.

Outstanding mentor award

Susan Graham, assistant to the dean, received the Gary L. Minish Outstanding Adviser-Mentor Award. The student-nominated award recognizes those who advise and mentor students at a personal and impactful level.

Gary Minish, past dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said of Graham: “It is extremely well deserved and she has done as much for student success as anyone I’ve known.”

Live auction concludes event

Agriculture fundraising project: Members of SIU’s Ag Council present a check to the Kiwanis Club for an all-inclusive playground project in Carbondale’s Turley Park. With the check were, from left, Gavin Edwards, Tim Weber, Sarah Dintelmann, Sidney Roling, Kiwanis Club members Karen Jones and Henry Dillinger, Kendra Flood, Paxton Morse and Jason Weller.

At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, The Ag Council hosted a philanthropic fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club Playground Project — an all-inclusive playground project in Turley Park in Carbondale. The students raised more than $4,500 through the auction and raffle featuring a variety of gift baskets.

Many organizations joined the effort and sponsored items, including the Illinois Farm Bureau and Pitchford Elevator.

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