For the past 43 years, people from all over the western Illinois region—as well as from across the state and beyond—have been flocking to Western Illinois University in the early winter to get a glimpse of emerging ag technology, tractors and machinery, livestock and crop equipment and supplies and much more. It was in 1970 the Ag Mech Club started what has become the largest student-run agriculture show in the U.S., the annual WIU Farm Expo—which many refer to as the “Ag Mech Show.”
As in past years, the Farm Expo will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. This year, Western’s School of Agriculture will add to the Ag Mech Show tradition by incorporating an annual reunion for all “WIU Aggies,” which will feature a number of alumni activities.
The Farm Expo will include the popular keynote address at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, which will be delivered by Katie Pratt from Franklin Grove, IL . Pratt was named the “Face of Farming and Ranching” last year by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (see http://bit.ly/1eblCgF), and she and her husband are seventh-generation farmers and raise corn, soybeans and seed corn at Grand Prairie Farms. Additionally, the expo will include the traditional popular activities of the Kiddie Tractor Pull (noon, Sunday, Feb. 9), as well as exhibits of farm machinery, emerging ag technology, livestock and crop supplies, ag structures, crafts, a farm toy show and much more.
Aggie Alumni Activities
The School of Agriculture’s 44th Annual Farm Expo Weekend will also include an Agriculture Alumni Reunion/Social from 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Multicultural Center (across the street from the University Union). In addition to the evening reunion event and the Farm Expo, other activities for alumni to take part in and enjoy Saturday include:
– 12-3 p.m.—Bull Test Open House at the WIU Farm;
– 9 a.m.-3 p.m.—State FFA Interview Contest and Ag Issues Contest hosted by WIU’s Collegiate FFA chapter Knoblauch Hall (in several rooms); and
– 2-4 p.m.—Ag Communications Workshop (hosted by the McDonough County Farm Bureau and the Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation) in Stipes Hall 501.
Incorporating the Ag Alumni Reunion Weekend into the Ag Mech Club’s annual Farm Expo weekend, according to School of Ag Assistant Professor Bart Gill, came about as result of conversations among faculty and staff, as well as with alumni.
“Hopefully, this event will be the start of many more to follow. Our vision is to have a School of Ag Alumni Society formed in the future. To help us do that, we want to showcase the current activities within the School of Ag, and our plan is to make the upcoming Farm Expo Weekend, as well as future ones, more of an alumni weekend with numerous events taking place. WIU agriculture alumni are very proud of their roots, and we hope this provides an avenue for them to show their pride.”
Gill said School of Agriculture faculty, staff and students have all been involved in the planning. He noted Ember Keithley, the academic advisor for the School of Ag, and Donna Pestle, manager of the School of Ag office, are helping him spearhead the planning of the activity-filled weekend, while student organizations are also helping with the event, by either providing funds or supporting it with other resources.
“The Ag Mech Club is funding the event, and Ag Council is making the final arrangements for the facilities and refreshments,” Gill added. “During the weekend, Dr. Andy Baker [interim chair of the School of Ag] will provide a welcome from the School of Ag, and Ag Mech Club members and Ag Student Council members will be present to talk with the alumni. We are also inviting former faculty members of the School of Agriculture, so alumni get a chance to reconnect with their former professors.”
– Source: WIU News