February 27, 2006

Agriculture college holds annual awards banquet

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Agricultural Sciences honored its outstanding alumni, student all-stars, faculty and staff standouts and those who support the agricultural industry in notable ways during its annual banquet held Friday, Feb. 24, at the University's Student Center.

Bill Davisson of Bloomington, a career employee of the federated cooperative GROWMARK Inc. and its chief executive officer since 1998, gave the banquet's keynote address. GROWMARK, which got its start in the 1920s when Farm Bureau members organized a few local cooperatives, also received the college's Service to Agriculture award.

The college recognized Larry Fischer, vice president for instruction at John Wood Community College in Quincy, as its outstanding alumnus. Fischer, who graduated from SIUC in 1968 with a degree in agriculture education, began his career at John Wood in 1976 as director of agricultural programs. He took on his present position in 2002.

The college named Josh R. Bushue of Beecher City as its outstanding young alumnus. A 1998 graduate in general agriculture, Bushue joined Archer Daniels Midland Co. in 2000 and last June became regional operations superintendent of the company's Altamont-based grain division

Student award winners were Megan A. McCallister of Charleston (2249 Cortland Drive), Fahran K.J. Robb of Pinckneyville (4590 Wren Road), Alicia M. Garcia of Atlanta (Ill.), and C.

Matthew Payne of Fairmont (302 N. State Road). McCallister and Robb, as the top senior and junior respectively, will each receive $100, courtesy of the Illinois Farm Bureau and Alpha Gamma Rho. They also will receive plaques, and their names will be added to a commemorative plaque that hangs in the dean's office. Garcia and Payne will receive framed certificates.

Sigma Alpha, a social and professional sorority, received $100 from Farm Credit Services as the college's outstanding club.

The college also cited tenure-track faculty teaching award winner John E. Preece of plant, soil and agricultural systems; term faculty teaching award winner Amy C. Boren of plant, soil and agricultural systems; graduate student teaching award winner Laurie J. George; faculty research award winner S. Alan Walters of plant, soil and agricultural systems; Elkins Excellence in Education Award winner Richard W. Steffen of plant, soil and agricultural systems; and educational support winner Mike Cox of plant, soil and agricultural systems.

Here are more details on the student winners.

• McCallister is a senior in food and nutrition specializing in dietetics. A two-term agbassador, she also serves as chancellor for the agriculture honor fraternity Alpha Zeta, public relations and co-rush chairs of Sigma Alpha sorority, Agriculture Council representative for the Student Nutrition Academic Council and event coordinator for the Agriculture Student Advisory Council. In addition, she takes on numerous volunteer responsibilities for the college.

• Robb, a double major in plant, soil and agricultural systems and in political science, is the first SIUC student named to USA Today's 60-member All-USA Academic Team, one of 50 students named as a 2005 Morris K. Udall Honorable Mention Scholar and a Provost Scholar. She has held offices in numerous campus service and professional organizations and recently received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for completing more than 100 hours in a single year.

• Garcia's major in plant, soil and agricultural systems includes specializations in both agriculture education and plant and soil science. A former college agbassador, she now serves as president of Sigma Alpha sorority and Collegiate FFA and as scribe of the honor fraternity Alpha Zeta. Her memberships include Alpha Tau Alpha, the Agriculture Education Club and InterGreek Council.

• Payne, a major in agribusiness economics, also works for the liqueur advertiser Future Brands as its point person for the region and the St. Louis area. He will serve a summer internship with the American Shorthorn Association in Omaha, Neb., before going on to graduate school in the fall. He is the son of Kevin and Linda Payne.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs and recognizing faculty excellence are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.