U of I Ag Education program receives transformational gift from CHS Foundation

July 31, 2014
Construction begins in 122 Bevier

Urbana, Ill. - The University of Illinois Agricultural Education program has received a gift of $150,000 from the CHS Foundation, the giving entity of CHS, Inc. CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative that is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States.

Richard Clark, associate director of the agricultural education program, said the gift will be used to renovate the major classroom and meeting facility in 122 Bevier Hall.

“We’re in the midst of a tremendous growth in our undergraduate and graduate programs, attracting highly qualified students in agricultural leadership education and agricultural science education,” said Clark. “The current classroom doesn’t resemble the training and education environment they will encounter in their future jobs. This is a transformational gift that will create a state-of-the-art teaching and conferencing facility.”

The space will also be used as a flexible multi-purpose learning environment. The proposed renovation would design the space to serve multiple functions, including a small classroom with a teaching lab for agricultural education student teachers; video and audio conferencing with Illinois agriculture teachers and agribusiness professionals; a location for hosting and recruiting potential students and their families; a resource library for students to develop curriculum materials; and a classroom for on-campus graduate students and on-line graduate students to attend class simultaneously through distance education.

Erica Thieman, an assistant professor in agricultural education, said, “This renovation goes way beyond a fresh coat of paint and new flooring. It will transform this classroom into a flexible center that will enable students and instructors to envision what a space optimized for learning looks like. The updated technology will give students hands-on experience with a wide range of platforms and equipment for use in both formal and non-formal education. I look forward to seeing the innovation in both student and instructor work that arises from a technology-rich classroom with updated furniture allowing for flexibility in arrangement and use.”

Clark said representatives from CHS visited the University of Illinois and saw first-hand the quality of the students and the faculty. “They also visited 122 Bevier and realized the need to match the quality of the educational facility with the quality of the students,” he said.

“CHS is committed to investing in future leaders in cooperative business and agriculture at the collegiate level through scholarships, grants and resources,” he continued. “This program is designed to encourage academic, professional and leadership development among today’s college students pursuing careers in the agricultural industry.

“This gift will truly pay for itself with highly-trained students who will become the future face of agriculture,” he concluded.

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