Just Understanding The Basics of Everyday

Everybody has their area of focus and anymore people only focus on their own area and anything out of that area, it is someone else’s responsibilities to deal with. It seems people have developed into keys instead of tools. What is meant by this is that people are focusing on skills to do one thing, just like a key, it unlocks a door or it may unlock lots of doors but the doors are all the same and lead to the same place. A tool has many application and can be used in a variety ways and on a variety of things. The one size fits all idea is great in theory but completely out of reach for any person, but a person that can look at a problem at a number of angles to solve it in an efficient and practical manner because of his or her wide-spread experience and diverse set of skills is going to be hunted out by employers. Mechanization and electricity are things that are used everyday and everybody should have a basic knowledge of how it works and how to recognize problems.

Photo Credit: WIU School of Agriculture Facebook

Why does a person need to know how this stuff works or how to work on something?

  1. Safety- Injuries are a part of life, but taking steps to limit injury is a step in the right direction. Taking the time to learn how things work can be crucial in avoiding injury.
  2. Cost Savings- Simple fixes can add up if one is always calling someone to work on something so being able to work on things by oneself can be very good asset. Also if one knows what the problem is or has an idea of what is going on with a problem the likely hood of over paying for unnecessary repairs or parts is reduced substantially.
  3. Future Application- Having this knowledge base of how things work and how to apply it can set one apart for a promotion or another job. The future is uncertain and these skills wills always be in demand.

I recommend that every student take an introduction to mechanics course to gain a set of skills that can be applied to everyday life. Almost every school offers a type of either mechanic class or a shop class. Start saving money, time, and stop frustrating situations by just understanding the basics.

My name is Kale Carlisle and I am a senior at WIU majoring in Ag Business and a minor in Ag Technology Management. I grew up in Carthage, IL on my family’s grain and hog farm and I have always had a passion for equipment and mechanics.


5 Reasons Why Being a Female in Agriculture is Awesome

Growing up on a corn and soybean farm in rural west central Illinois, I learned at a young age that it is “cool” to be a farmer. In elementary school, my fellow classmates and I would come to class and share our own unique stories. Most of the stories consisted of riding in the combine with dad, taking a load of grain to the elevator with grandpa, or being mom’s side-kick and taking the guys dinner during harvest. At the time, we thought we were big stuff.

At that young age, I never thought I would actually choose a career in agriculture. However, here I am majoring in agriculture in college. I had hopes of being a school teacher, a doctor, or even better, the first female president of the United States. As I got older, I came to the realization that agriculture is much broader than what I thought it was when I was seven. Farming is more than a hobby, it is a lifestyle. It is through this way of life that my family makes a living.

After coming to this realization in my mid-teen years, I decided that I wanted to be a part of this amazing industry for life. I became active in FFA in high school and you could often find me working on the family farm. Seeing the deep passion my dad and his dad had for the farm, I knew that I wanted to help carry on the family name. This led me to my decision to major in Agriculture and minor in Agronomy.

I know everyone’s story is not the same as mine, but there is one thing that all of us women in agriculture can agree on; it is awesome to be a part of such an amazing industry. We would not change a single thing that led us to where we are today. Here are 5 reasons why being a female in agriculture is awesome.

  1. Our days usually consist of talking, like all the time.

    I have found that no matter the area within agriculture, you are either on the phone or at the farmstead talking to a farmer all day long. This past summer as a crop scout, the senior agronomist I worked for was on the phone answering questions or giving suggestions more times than not. My roommate spent her summer as a grain merchandiser. She said that she was on the phone all day long giving the most current market prices or creating contracts. Females involved in seed or chemical sales get the privilege of meeting with the grower on his farm. If you’re a gal like me, you love to talk all the time (hence the reason I placed this as #1).

  2. The friends you make, the networks you create, and the groups you form.

    Women in agriculture are great at interacting with one another. Social media has made reason #2 so much more feasible. Through Facebook, I am a member of the Women in Agriculture group. In this group, ladies post about what is going on on their farm or ask for advice regarding certain topics. On Instagram and Twitter, I follow many other female agriculturalists from all over the country. It is always exciting to see what is going on throughout our country’s vast landscapes.

    Taken on the 2016 IPLI trip in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo credits: Mike Borgic

    Conferences, meetings, conventions, and educational trips allow women in agriculture to expand our network and create more contacts. In June 2015 and 2016, I went on the Illinois Pork Leadership Institute trip sponsored by the Illinois Pork Producers. On these two trips, I was able to make connections with other individuals that share the same passion for the industry as I do. In fact, I talk to most of them every single week.

  3. Independence is something we come by.

    Women are pretty independent to begin with, but have you ever met a farm girl? We are most definitely independent, strong-willed, and often times bull-headed. We believe in making sure the job is done right, efficiently, and on time. I mean, in farming, that is kind of essential. Independence allows women in agriculture to have more freedom in what we choose to do.

  4. Life is never dull.

    As we all know, the markets, the weather, and agriculture in general are constantly changing. Therefore, with new changes in technology, seed genetics, and regulations, we are inclined to keep up with the newest and latest trends. This allows life to stay exciting and get a little hectic at times. Or, if you are like me, you enjoy a little challenge from time to time to keep things interesting.

    Another point I would like to add to this is that if something can go wrong, it will. Combine breaks down for two days during harvest, check. Ten days straight of rain in the spring, check. Farming has shown me to expect the worst, and thank God when you were wrong.

  5. We are a breed all our own.

    Females in agriculture are equipped with a very diverse skill set. As mentioned previously, we can talk all day long about anything from grain prices to the weather. Since it is my background, I have related most of the experiences back to grain production. However, there are many female livestock farmers/ranchers. No matter what our focus is on, we all face any challenge that comes our way head on. We embrace being faced with adversity and set out to conquer the task with fierce determination. With all of this in mind, we truly do have a soft side too. Our hands help heifer’s calve, pull weeds from the garden, and prepare dinner for our families.

    It is the combination of these characteristics and the grace of God that make us who we are and being a female in agriculture awesome!


14064105_1188928104491379_5845645041645320142_nHi, I’m Hannah Wollbrink! I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture with an option in Business and minoring in Finance and Agronomy. Like my blog post states, I grew up on a grain farm along the Mississippi River, about 40 minutes west of campus. In my free time, I can be found spending time with friends and family, working on some DIY project or doing something outside! Follow me on Instagram or Twitter @hannahwollbrink.


A Beautiful Day at Dearwester

What is the perfect career path for a young man that likes meeting great new people, driving to rural parts of the country and some good old fashion hard work?   Well Dearwester is the correct answer to that question and I am about to inform you all about it.


(Picture captured by Colby Hunt of local Stump the Turtle man Little)

Dearwester sells many different brands of feed to their customers.  They sell Purina, Kent, Umbargers, and their Own DGS. (Dearwester Grain Services) The feed they sell feeds all types of animals like cows, horses, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and more. One thing I love about Dearwester is the small family run business it has everyone knows everyone and you know all your customers by name and they know you.  At Dearwester Grain the employees do whatever they can to help you get the right feed you need for what you want to do with your livestock.  The difference between going to the store and walking in looking at all the different types of feed and saying “wow there are so many options” and going to Dearwester is they will give you advice and also explain what each different type of feed will do for your animal, so you know you are giving them the right feed for what you plan on doing with your pet and/or livestock.  When you go to a local store that sells feed and you are looking from advice from one of the “feed specialists” they normally don’t have a clue what they are selling, they just know from reading what the bag says that it is for a certain type of animal. That is why I think you should buy all your feed from local Feed Services because of their knowledge on what they are selling and also too support your local family business that cares about you also.

My name is Dylan Hinman I am from Macomb IL. I was born and raised on a farm work in the feed industry and love everything about agriculture.


How college and an internship changed my career path


Heaven on earth.jpg
sun setting on brown farms photo taken by Shannon Brown


Growing up I was told I could be anything I wanted when I became an adult. At first I want to be a veterinarian, because I loved animals, I wanted to work with horses because that was my passion. I thought I would work with some of the best horses in the world and I would own many, many horses. All that changed when I started college, my first semester I was at University of Kentucky with a pre-vet major. I was so homesick I just wanted to be back on our farm helping like I always did every fall and spring. Then it came time for my animal science lab, I passed out after they cut open a cow’s stomach. I knew then I needed to change my major when I changed schools.  I changed my major to agronomy, which is plant and soil science, and I fell in love with it. I knew that my major could help farmers, which is something I care a lot about. I have had three internships over the past few years that have helped me decide what I want to do with my life. The first one I worked for Monsanto, in the entomology department, I learned insects aren’t my thing. I loved the job especially the part where I got to travel all over Nebraska and Iowa. The second was with Advance Crop Care, I scouted fields all day every day, I loved it, it was by far my favorite internship. I learned so much from that internship that I can use in my future career and I liked that what I learned in the classroom applied and what I learned in the field applied in the classroom.

My third internship I was with Growmark FS I worked out of Conserv FS in Waterman IL. It was a great experience I met people from all over Illinois, Iowa, the east coast and even Canada. We started the internship off in Bloomington IL,  it was right after school let out for the summer. We met at a hotel where we were introduced to everyone and then went to the headquarters,  and then we learned about how Growmark works and what all goes on. In June we met again, we toured Wrigley field and then a grain elevator. The next day we sat and listen to a few people talk about the company and also did personality tests. The last time we met was in August, we had a big fancy dinner on the first night where the interns got to bring someone from their school and introduce them to everyone. They handed out awards and scholarships. The next day we gave our presentations, that we had been working on all summer. There were a verity of projects that people did,  It was a summer to remember for sure. If you have any interest in the Growmark internship program visit: www.growmark.com

where I worked summer 2016


60 interns for Growmark: from the Growmark website


photo credits Marcy Brown

img_2631Hello everyone my name is Shannon Brown, I call Steward, IL home. I am a senior at Western Illinois University in Macomb IL. where I study Ag science with an emphasis in agronomy and a minor in Ag business. I grew up on corn and soybean farm where I am the fourth generation to work and live there. I work alongside my dad every chance I get. I love tractor pulling, which is what I do all summer.  I am a member of Sigma Alpha, which is  a professional agriculture sorority , collegiate FFA, Ag mech club, and collegiate farm bureau.  I  graduate in May 2017. I plan to either be a crop scout or do research with a company after graduating. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at sl-brown@wiu.edu


Are your furbabies getting their annual exam?

Today, many pet owners believe the yearly exam veterinarians recommend for their patients is just a waste of money or a way that veterinarians boost their own bank account. As a pet owner, employee at several clinics, and an aspiring veterinarian I can honestly say “yes, an annual exam is very necessary.” Prevention is always the best policy! When it comes to my four-legged family members, I treat them as though I would my two-legged family members.


Vaccinations are a necessary part of each animal’s yearly check up. They help to prevent one’s dog from contracting diseases that they are exposed to. Even if the dog “does not leave the house,” they are still very capable of acquiring a disease. Humans can bring elements home to indoor pets on their shoes and clothing that they are not even aware of.

The age, location, lifestyle, and health of the patient have an impact on what vaccination program the animal will need. For example, a dog that is used for hunting should have a different program than a dog that goes for a walk with its owner around the block a few times a week.

After receiving multiple boosters as a puppy, dogs should revisit their veterinarian annually for vaccinations. They should be administered a rabies vaccination and Distemper-Hepatitis-Parvovirus-Parainfluenza (DHPP) booster at minimum. Optional vaccinations include: Bordatella (kennel cough), Leptospirosis, and Lyme.

This is a photo I took of my two dogs, “Gertie” and “Paisley.” Each of them have similar vaccination programs, however, they are at different stages. Gertie is a Australian Shepherd/Cattle Dog mix and is almost a year old. She has had all of her vaccines and will start annual vaccinations the following year. Paisley is a Miniature Australian Shepherd and is about 7 weeks old in this picture. She has had one DHPP booster vaccination and will be receiving a series of these before she starts her “adult” vaccinations.


Parasite Examinations

Dogs can be affected by parasites in three different ways: internally, externally, and intestinally. Just like vaccines it is always best to prevent rather than treat. Have your animal tested by bringing a small fecal sample to your appointment. Not all parasites may be seen by the human eye, therefore veterinarians/technicians must create a sample slide after centrifuging to check for any eggs under the microscope. These parasites may not show it at first, but eventually they will take a toll on your animal’s health. In addition, some may even effect you and your family also.

The internal parasite most commonly seen is heartworms. Heartworms develop after a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito. The larvae develop in the animals heart and begin to essentially block an animals blood pathways.

External parasites include: fleas, ticks, mites, and lice. Not only do they make your pet uncomfortable, itchy, and hairless, but they also can lead to other parasite infestations! For example, infected fleas that are ingested by your dog may transfer tapeworms and infected ticks can transmit Lyme disease.

Many of the common intestinal parasites include: hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Typically, most are found in the soil. Contrary to many owners beliefs, even indoor pets are in contact with soil. We drag it inside with our shoes, we take our pets on walks, we have other pets over, and we let them out in the yard to do their business. There many ways our pets may contract these parasites that we typically would not think of. For example, most puppies born usually have roundworms or hookworms. They are transferred to them by their mom, which is why it is so critical to have a fecal examination when getting a new puppy.

Prevention is key to protecting your pet from those creepy crawly parasites in the soil. In the figure above is my now, 6-month-old, miniature Australian Shepherd puppy “Paisley.” She was started on heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives when she was 7 weeks old and has been on a year-round, monthly preventative program ever since.


Dental Examinations

It is easy to overlook the dental health of a pet due to the fact we do not brush their teeth daily. However, the dental health of our pet can play a major role in the overall wellness as well. When tartar and bacteria builds up in a dogs mouth, it can lead to periodontal disease. That unbearable odor you are smelling when your dog licks you is harmful to more than just your nose. The buildup acts as a toxic agent in your animals system and can lead to your pet feeling ill.

Depending on the breed, age, lifestyle, and health of your dog they may need a dentistry. Yes, dogs need dental cleanings just like you! Most often they are put under a mild anesthesia while a veterinarian/technician cleans the animals teeth and performs any necessary extractions. Sometimes a tooth may need to be extracted due to the fact it is doing more harm to the animal than good.

Overall Health and Nutrition

An overall look at your pet by a professional in the veterinary field and different set of eyes is one of the greatest favors you can do for your pet. We are not all perfect, and thus it is easy for us to miss something that needs attended to in regards to our animal. Even working in the veterinary field, I often see veterinarians bring their own pets to be examined by other doctors they work with just in case they happened to overlook something. When you see an animal day in and day out, it is easy for your eye to become less critical when overlooking your pet.

One of the most common overlooked areas is the body condition of your pet and whether or not what you are feeding is really in the animals best interest. Your parents were not joking when they scolded you for trying to feed table scraps to the dog to get done with supper quicker. Your pets really do not need the human food we “treat” them with, nor is it good for them usually. It never hurts to brush up on your knowledge of items that are toxic to your dogs. Check out the Animal Poison Control’s list of items they say to avoid at: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets

This is my foster dog “Jetta,” she is a labrodor retriever  we estimate to be around 4 years old. She was abandon at an old farm outside of town, in which someone brought her to the clinic. She was a very scared and nervous dog when she first came to my house in August. Since then, we have gotten her caught up on her vaccinations, started her on heartworm/flea/tick preventatives, and introduced her to adult dog food which she loves. She has gained weight and is in much better condition now. This coming week she will be getting spayed before meeting her new owners next week at her new forever home.



fb_img_1476714947461Hello! My name is Isabella Frisk, or crazy dog lady to some. I have been passionate about animals since I was just a kid, and have never outgrew that love. I have been employed at two veterinary clinics and have had approximately five years of in-the-clinic experience. I am currently in my senior year of my Bachelors of Science degree at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. I am an aspiring veterinarian who would like to practice both small and large animal medicine in my future.


WIU Horticulture Team Making School History at NCLC

Have you ever heard of the National Collegiate Landscape Competition? Neither had my classmates or I, until Dr. Margaret Hoffman mentioned it to us in our Introduction to Horticulture class last fall. The NCLC is hosted by The National Association of Landscape Professionals, which is commonly called the NALP. This contest is held every year in the United States and is passed from school to school across the nation. This past year was the 40th annual competition that was held in Starkville, Mississippi which is home of Mississippi State University. An interesting fact about the location was that MSU was the first school to host the very first competition. Last year 62 teams from both the United States and Canada combined, attended this event over a five day span. Besides the contest it also has many other events. Some of these events include student workshops, social events, career fair, and of course the award ceremony. This event seems to grow every year with the hopes that this will become even bigger.

So how does the Western Illinois Horticulture team come to this event? Well, last year was the very first time a team from Western Illinois University attended this contest. Thanks to the hard work of both Dr. Margaret Hoffman and Dr. Andy Baker, our team was allowed to bring qualified five individuals and a coach to this major contest. These individuals that made up our team included: Spencer Smith (Galesburg, IL.), Dillon Martenson (Shabbona, IL.), Zachery Woodbury (Lee, IL.), Nathaniel Anderson (Byron, IL.), Kennneth Tryggestad (Rockford, IL.) and our coach/ adviser Dr. Margaret Hoffman. Before heading out we all spent many countless hours studying and practicing for the events that we would partake in, down at the contest. We all could feel the pressure that was put on us, as we were the first WIU team to go down and show off the talents of our agriculture program.

During the grueling nine hour drive to Mississippi State University words couldn’t describe how we became closer as a team. From the countless questions regarding the events members were participating in, to identifying plants on the side of the road, we all seemed to enjoy this time we had with each other. In parts of Tennessee and Mississippi we saw first hand what mother nature could do to the landscape. Many farmers fields were under water that it felt like we were on a boat sailing through the ocean. This seemed to hit home with a lot of us, as we all could feel for the farming families that lost everything that was planted in those fields. As we got closer to Starkville, Mississippi the attitude in the van changed from joking around to game faces as we were ready to bring home the W.

The first day of the event included: various student workshops that any and all team members could attend. Some of the main ones which were attended was the truck/trailer driving, arboriculture and woody plant ID. These workshops provided excellent information that can/would be applied to the real world.

The second day involved the career fair. When I describe the career fair it was a huge gathering for multiple companies. The companies ranged from large machine makers, landscapers, to even wholesale landscape supply companies.

Zach being interviewed about his experience at NCLC.

Our group did an excellent job of communicating with these companies and many of them were very impressed with our horticulture program. Another thing they were also impressed with was the knowledge of our students. It was very apparent that they were impressed with one member as he accepted a position that was offered to him during the career fair.

The third/fourth day was the competition of the different events. Some of the members participated in the irrigation assembly. The irrigation assembly required them to follow a plan and construct an irrigation system within an hour.

WIU’s Irrigation System

Our team did very well but did have several mistakes that ended placing them in the middle of the pack. Another event that our members competed in was turf, woody, and perennial ID. The three individuals who competed also placed in the middle of the pack. Some hurdles that they encountered were plants which were native to Mississippi. Some other events we participated in were truck/trailer driving, arboriculture techniques, and landscape installation.

WIU’s Landscape Installation

Landscape installation is the last event of the competition and involves all attendees standing on the sidelines where they would cheer on their respected schools. This competition involves a three person team who installs sod, trees, and even plants. Our members had to endure heavy rain storms and the thick Mississippi clay, which was near impossible to work with. Even though the weather did not cooperate we ended up placing middle of the pack. For this being our first appearance we did a great job representing the WIU School of Agriculture.

This year we are in the process of planning on competing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We are currently seeking qualified individuals who display a passion for the horticulture industry to compete. Even though we represented WIU respectfully at Mississippi State University, our expectations have increased. Our team expectation is to be in the top 20% of the overall competition.

 25ce3cf5dc0e67720222a5b03cc251efMy name is Dillon Martenson and I’m currently a senior at Western Illinois University. I’m majoring in Agriculture Business with an emphasis in Horticulture. I was born and raised on a grain/ livestock farm located in Shabbona, IL, which is just 1 hour and 30 min from downtown Chicago. While growing up on the farm I helped out with the day to day operations of growing corn and soybeans, but I also got to branch out and raise my own set of show pigs. Not only did I learn about the farm at a young age but I also got to experience and learn about the landscape industry from my grandfather and father. This was due to the fact my family owns and operates Martenson Turf Products, Inc., a wholesale grass seed company that supplies materials to IDOT, landscapers, golf courses, and even sports facilities. All of this has contributed to me becoming a well-rounded individual regarding agriculture.

The Men of Alpha Gamma Sigma Host AGS for Bags

Every semester fraternities and sororities alike put together events with one thing in mind, trying to make a difference. These events are called philanthropies, and they have become a vital part of Greek organizations all over America.

Here at WIU the men of Alpha Gamma Sigma take this seriously, and we truly want to make a difference in any way we can.  Bags, or what some people call, “corn hole” has been a staple in Midwestern lives and tailgates everywhere. Understanding the popularity of the game, AGS used that to their advantage to attract people throughout the university to the event.

Courtesy of WIU Inter Fraternity Council 

This semester, we will be having the Tenth Annual AGS for Bags, and like so many in the past it will be benefiting testicular cancer by forwarding all proceeds to the Testicular Cancer Society. The event itself will be held on October 29th, 2016 from 12 P.M.-3 P.M. at the AGS house. Teams cost $30 prior and $40 at the event. The winning team will walk away with their very own AGS for Bags champion bag board set. If you come up short in the tournament you still have a chance to take home some bragging rights. For only $5 you can enter yourself in the famous Turkey Testicle Eating Contest. We will however, be selling concessions of chili, burgers, hot dogs, chips, soda, and water to our less adventurous guests.

On behalf of everyone from Alpha Gamma Sigma, we hope many of you can take a break from your busy semesters and harvest season, to enjoy some fun with our bags tournament and help raise money and awareness of testicular cancer!