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.
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.
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.
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
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.