The Ag Career Fair is Quickly Approaching, Are You Ready?

Have no fear, I am here to help!! 🙂

The Ag Career Fair will be held on October 7th, 2015 in the Grand Ballroom located on the 2nd floor of the Union.

Attending the career fair can be a very stressful time for students looking for internships or full time jobs after graduation. There is no need to worry however, because if you properly prepare you can eliminate any potential problems that you may encounter. There are 4 essential steps to preparing for a career fair and they are as follows: research the companies attending, update and polish your resume, create an elevator speech and dress appropriately.

Research: It is very important to take the time ahead of the career fair to research the companies that will be attending. The School of Ag office here at Western is very good about sending out the list of employers attending in advance. This54c613c942ddad8df9764d19b5b71c5c

list is very handy, as you can create a “game plan” prior to walking in the door. You can eliminate the companies that you are not interested in and focus on visiting only with those that meet your criteria. The companies will be impressed with you already knowing a little about       what they do and what type of company they are, and it will also help you to carry on a conversation.

Resume: This one sheet of paper is what can instantly make or break whether you are asked to interview. An employer only has a very limited amount of time to look over your resume and decide whether you go in the “Yes Pile” or the “No Pile.” It is important to have a resume that is easy to read and is relevant to the company you are speaking with. A great resource to help format a great resume is the Career Development Center in Memorial Hall. This office is specifically for students to use to better prepare themselves for the working world and it is free to use. They can set up an appointment to meet with you to look over and help make corrections to your resume.

Elevator Speech: The first thing that you do when approaching an employer at the career fair is shaking his or her hand and introducing yourself. A first impression can mean so much and it is crucial to prepare ahead of time to make yours memorable. An elevator speech is the first 30 seconds when you introduce yourself, say where you are from, what your interests are, and why you are speaking with them. When you think these things out ahead of time it prevents any awkward pauses and eliminates you trying to think on the spot. Once you create an elevator

Copyright © 2015 Ball State University
Copyright © 2015 Ball State University

speech that you feel is adequate, practice your speech to your friends, and make any changes that they may suggest. Lastly, practice saying your speech into a mirror. Yes, this will seem rather funny, but it is important to know what this employer is looking at while you talk and facial expressions can make or break your speech.

Professional Dress: A business suit and tie is what is recommended and appropriate for men to wear and a skirt or pants suit for women. The key is to find dress clothes that are conservative and comfortable enough to be able to conduct yourself in a confident manner. When in doubt of whether something is appropriate, change. The Career Development Center also has a closet full of professional clothing that has been donated by alumni and other businesses that is up for the taking.

These are just some of the many ways that help in preparing for the career fair. If you have any further questions or are seeking any additional advice, I recommend contacting the Career Development Center.

I hope you all have a fantastic week and best of luck securing internships and full time positions!

Lauren Henebry


I was born and raised on a grain and livestock operation near Buffalo, IL which is where my passion for agriculture began. I am currently a senior studying Ag Business here at Western Illinois University. I have accepted a full time position with CGB as a grain merchandising trainee following graduation in May. I received my internship which led to my full time position by attending the career fair fall of my Junior year.


Annual Farm to Fork fundraiser dinner


The annual SRC Farm Project dinner will be held on September 27th 2015 at the Spoon River College Canton campus.  Spoon River College Agriculture Professor Jeff Bash says, “The dinner is hosted by the agriculture department to raise funds for the PAS organization (Post-Secondary Agriculture Students). We have raised some of the produce on campus for the event.”

Every year guest chefs who happen to be local farmers help prepare the meal with the SRC students and of course the students double as servers for the tables.  This year the guest chefs will be Joe Murphy of Westside Organics and Linda Prescott of Prescott Farms.

Agriculture is important not only to the United States, but to the world.  With birth rates on the rise, we’re faced with the issue of food shortages within the next decade.  We need many more professionals who have a post-secondary education in agriculture to help solve this problem and other natural resource issues.  The PAS (Post-Secondary Agriculture Student Organization) at Spoon River College is an organization that helps college agriculture students develop leadership and career skills with course work and activities held by the organization.

Tickets to this event are $30 and only forty tickets are available to the public and is sold out each year.

Jack Capony is a recent graduate of Spoon River College and is currently learning about agriculture.

Stay Humble & Hustle Hard; 2015 National Barrow Show

The 2015 National Barrow Show located in Austin, Minnesota was one that Western Illinois University will never forget. From the Truckload Show to the Judging Contest to the Open Gilt Show, we were proud of our entire crew. Teamwork and WIU pride was 100% at this year’s National Barrow Show.

The first day, September 14th, the Livestock Judging Team competed in their contest and the juniors at WIU showed their truckloads that they had been working on for three weeks before the show. A truckload is a pen of six hogs that show together as a whole, instead of as an individual, like most livestock shows. Before arriving at the National Barrow Show, junior WIU students were in charge of feeding, washing, and walking these pigs twice a day. It takes a lot of work to get these truckloads looking good and trained the way they need to be for the show ring, and it certainly takes some major work ethic skills. Hard work definitely paid off for the juniors though on Monday the 14th! We had the Champion Purebred Truckload and the Reserve Champion Crossbred Truckload. Our purebred truckload went back out for overall honors, and took home the title of 2015 National Barrow Show Reserve Champion Truckload! Simply, an honor.

2015 National Barrow Show Champion Purebred Truckload & Reserve Champion Overall Truckload
2015 National Barrow Show Champion Purebred Truckload & Reserve Champion Overall Truckload

After the juniors competed in the truckload show, it was time to see how the seniors had done in the judging contest all day. Competing as a collegiate judging contestant in the 2015 National Barrow Show, was unforgettable no matter who you were or how you finished. There were a total of 18 senior college teams that competed there, located anywhere from California, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and everywhere in between. This was the largest national judging contest to take place, up to this date. I mean how awesome is it to be a part of something that big in the agriculture realm? It doesn’t get better than that, especially when livestock is your passion!

As a team, the Western Illinois Livestock Judging team finished as the High Team Overall. Excitement would be an understatement when they announced our team over the microphone. Kansas State University finished as the second high team overall, 80 points behind WIU. Team success is our goal, but we also had some outstanding individual results. There is no I in TEAM, but it certainly takes individual hard work and success to get team achievements and success. Heath Harper was the second high individual overall, Katie Lewis (me) was the fifth high individual overall, Sam Bair was sixth overall, Hank LeVan was seventh overall, Jennifer Livermore was eighth overall, and Tyler Gradert was 10th overall. We were so excited to have 6 of our team members in the top 10! There were also awards given out for Oral Reasons. Oral reasons is a portion of the contest where contestants give a minute to two minute speech on why they placed the class of livestock the way they did. Katie Lewis (me) was high individual in reasons, Sam Bair was second in reasons, Heath Harper was 3rd in reasons, and Hank LeVan was 5th in reasons. 4 out of the top 5 contestants in Oral Reasons were from WIU. Doing great in reasons at a contest is definitely awesome, but the lifelong talents and skills you gain from reasons are priceless.

  • After the contest, I had a good interview/ talk with Heath Harper. Heath finished second overall, highest on our team in the judging contest, which is a huge achievement. After asking Heath how he prepared for NBS, he answered “I just kept moving forward even after being wrong. I focused a lot on questions that they might ask in the contest, and I was always thinking about what I could be missing from descriptions (what I needed to know about each head of livestock).” Then, I asked him how he got his mind focused and ready on the morning of the contest. He says “I woke up and said it will be what it will be, & I’m just going to roll with it.” Going though the contest, Heath said he was nervous about the questions they were going to ask on some classes, but very confident in his placings and what he was going to say in the oral reasons portion. After finding out his results, Heath said he was excited about it and couldn’t have been more thrilled for not only his self, but everyone on the team after all the time it took getting ready for this contest. Next, I asked Heath how he thought this contest would help him in the future. His answer: “It will help me with public speaking and confidence in everything that I do. Plus, he will also be so proud of what he and his teammates accomplished in the future.” The last question I asked him was if he got excited more about individual or team results? He said: “I am always more excited about the team winning because it is an awesome feeling when you accomplish something as a whole.”
  • I am thankful Heath was good with me interviewing him. He did great as an individual and was definitely a huge part of our team success. What is best about Heath though, is he is a hard working, good hearted student at WIU that will work hard and do what it takes to be successful!

As if the judging team and truckload success wasn’t enough, we showed  and were successful with a Yorkshire gilt that WIU raised. Dr. Mark Hoge showed this female in the 2015 National Barrow Show Gilt Open Show, and had the honors of taking home a banner. We were named the 2015 Open Show Champion Yorkshire Gilt. Winning with this outstanding gilt, was a great opportunity for the Western Illinois University Swine Farm. Not only did we get our name out there for future bred gilt and show pig sales, but we also were able to sell her in the gilt sale the next day and make money for our school’s farm.

Judging coach , Dr. Mark Hoge, showing the 2015 National Barrow Show Champion Yorkshire Gilt in the open show.
The whole WIU crew with the winning Yorkshire gilt!


“Stay Humble, Hustle Hard” is a quote that the WIU Judging Team has taken to heart. No matter how much success you have, you work harder for the next contest and most importantly remain humble. Focus, determination, and work ethic typically determine anyone’s success. On the van ride home,  coach Mark Hoge was sure to tell us that he was beyond excited and proud of our results, but our work wasn’t done and we needed to be confident, yet humble in ourselves and work even harder for the next contest.

After returning to school on the 16th, we were greeted with many congratulations. It felt good to feel the support and excitement from the whole school. Just like everyday in the year, it certainly was a great day to be a Leatherneck!

2015 National Barrow Show Champion Livestock Judging Team Overall

Blogged by: Katie Lewis

I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am graduating early, this December, with a major in agriculture science and a minor in agronomy. At WIU, I am a passionate member of the Livestock Judging Team, Ag-Vocator club, Collegiate Farm Bureau club, and Hoof-n-Horn club.


Get Out and Vote!

Heading to the Farm Progress Show this week? If so, stop by the Farm Credit tent and vote for WIU! Farm Credit is celebrating its 100th year and is graciously donating $100,000 to support agriculture in Illinois.

Ten agriculture organizations were chosen as recipients of the gift, but the one who has the most support will receive the biggest piece of the pie. Visitors to the tent will be asked to complete a short survey and upon completion of the survey, they will be ask to help “designate the dollars.” For each percent of the vote earned, Farm Credit will donate $1000 to that organization. So get out and vote for WIU!

For more information, please watch this short Farm Credit video about the contest.