Growing up, Willow always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Being in the small town of Hartsburg, IL, taking an agriculture class her freshman year was "a given". Little did she know her Introduction to Agriculture class would change her life. She says, “My first ag teacher, Mrs. Betsy Pech, became a true inspiration for me. Mrs. Pech encouraged me to be the best version of myself possible and to take a lot of incredible opportunities. I decided my freshman year that she was my role model and I wanted to be an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor like her.” During her sophomore year, Willow transferred to Pittsfield, Illinois, and had another amazing advisor, Mrs. Jody Heavner. Willow says, "Thanks to Mrs. Heavner’s direction and support, I took the opportunity to run for State FFA Office and was elected to serve as the State FFA Treasurer."
Willow says her favorite part of studying Agriculture Education at the University of Illinois is the students and the staff. “The staff shows a real interest in all of our futures and they are incredible to work with. The other students are some of my closest friends and are great people to be surrounded with as I pursue my dream to be an agriculture teacher.”
Her advice to students is to “take any opportunity that you are presented with, whether it’s to travel abroad, join a club, or simply meet someone new. I’ve never regretted taking an opportunity no matter how it turned out; learning from the experience has always helped me grow.”