Passion defeats agricultural conflicts

Passion defeats agricultural conflicts

By Tia Rinehart

Students, alumni, faculty and supporters of agriculture came together Friday to celebrate excellence and overcoming hardship.

The 62nd Annual All-Ag banquet, put on by the Agricultural Student Advisory Council, brought together the agricultural community to socialize and reward students and faculty for their achievements this 2013-2014 school year.

Amanda Oldfield, a senior from Colona studying agricultural systems and education and the Ag Student Advisory Council secretary, said the council plans the event all year.


“It’s a time for the students and teachers to mingle as well as supporters of agriculture,” she said. “It’s a banquet to celebrate the students. It’s to celebrate their achievements, their accomplishments, and it’s just a fun, relaxed evening.”

Lauren Arteman, a senior studying plant and soil sciences from Bellflower, was this year’s recipient of the College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Senior Award.

“I was really nervous because I actually didn’t think I was going to get it,” she said. “There’s like 10 of us who are pretty competitive in the class so I thought it could go to anybody. I was pretty excited.”

Arteman said she grew up on her family’s corn and soybean farm and it sparked her interest in studying agriculture.

“A lot of people don’t know where the food comes from, and that’s what I’m kind of interested in educating on,” she said. “I’m also pretty passionate about vegetables, which is weird to say, but I want to teach and research with vegetables, so we’ll see how that works out.”

Arteman said she hopes to work her way up in the Agricultural society and potentially solve the issues regarding the clash between conventional and sustainable Ag practices.

“It’s pretty touchy but I want to kind of get in the higher ups and bring everybody together,” she said. “I have big plans.”


Many other awards were presented throughout the night. Mickey Latour, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, announced the scholars from the Ideas to Investigation Program, also known as the i2i Scholar Program, an initiative to encourage research among undergraduate students.

Nine students received plaques as the first group of i2i Scholars. Latour said he developed the program to provide students the tools to investigate problems hands-on.

“It’s high-ability students who work idea to investigation,” he said. “So they find a problem and they get a faculty member and they’re paid to do it and they have money to do work and investigate it.”

Latour said the program is designed for all students from any department, and can potentially be executed anywhere in the world.

“For example, they could live in Chicago for the entire semester, take all their courses online, so they are on track to graduate, and do a project with a company and be mentored by a faculty member,” he said. “That’s the concept: anytime, anywhere education.”

Ashani Hamilton, a sophomore from Jamaica studying animal science, said even though growing up on a goat farm in Jamaica was difficult, it drove him to study agriculture.

“It was very fun; I rode a lot of goats,” he said. “Being a third-world country like Jamaica is, you farm and you still have to work while you farm. Farming was like a hobby; you still had to maintain yourself as well.”

Hamilton said he loved growing up on a farm and is humbled to be where he is today.

“A poor little farmer’s son, now in Carbondale,” he said. “It’s great here.”

Thomas Marten, a 2012 graduate and a member of the Alumni Association, said the banquet is a great tradition for students to meet alumni, and his experience with the Collegiate Future Farmers of America was one of the highlights of his career.

“There’s just some great work they’re doing out there. Just showing that agriculture can be sustainable and still produce enough food, fiber and fuel for the growing demand of our economy and growing population of the world,” he said.

Marten said he is farming on his family’s corn and soybean farm near Raymond, Ill., even though he had not always planned on it. He said the hard times he saw his family face while farming did not drive him to be a farmer.

“Seeing the family go through some hard times—that’s one of the unfortunate things about farming,” he said. “It’s easy to look at it now and say, ‘Man, that’s profitable.’ Wait a few years and things can completely change with markets and costs.”

All of the troubles are outweighed by the opportunities of agricultural life, Marten said.

“There’s so many issues and barriers, but there’s also so many opportunities with all those barriers,” he said. “You have to be an eternal optimist; otherwise, you would never farm.”

The All-Ag Banquet also raised $781 for the Heifer International Project through its silent auction.