Just one week from today, a road trip will commence to one of my favorite places on earth: the University of Illinois.
That's right; maybe I just don't get out much but the University of Illinois campus will always be one of my favorites.
It's beautiful, it's historic, there's lots of agriculture, it's home to some of the best soil in the entire world. And it's the place where fabulous things happened for me. Indeed, I sat in Bob Hays' office in the basement of Mumford Hall, learning about ag communications, and realized, "This is it. These are my people." Once a wayward pre-med major, I found my calling in Mumford. Whew.
And now - and now! - my precious and lovely niece, Kaity, is a junior in high school and wants to go to U of I. In agriculture. And maybe even live at 4-H House. Be still, my heart.
Seriously. We get so excited for any of our young friends who head off into the future but when they follow the path we took (U of I+agriculture+ag houses), we have a special sense for the excitement that's ahead of them. For the experiences they'll have, for the people they'll meet and the relationships they'll form. Ridiculously excited for them? Maybe. Just a little bit. Or a lot.
Anyway, if you have a young person in your life who is even remotely interested in agriculture at U of I, take a look at ExplorACES. That's where we're heading next Friday, though the event runs Friday and Saturday. It's a good chance to see what happens in each of the departments, to talk to faculty, staff and students, and to get some really good career ideas.
And if you have a daughter heading to U of I next year, 4-H House will host an interviewing weekend that same weekend. I've written about it before, but in short, 4-H House helped make me who I am. Fifty rural women, living and working together, encouraging each other and developing leadership skills. And also, best friends for life. I cannot say enough good things about it. Also, it's significantly cheaper than another campus housing alternative. And you can move directly in as a freshman. My parents never actually said so, but I think they were relieved I wasn't drifting about the dorms as a wee freshman, straight off the farm. I know Dad was relieved about the price.
So if you find yourself on campus next Friday, too, look for us. Kaity and another young friend, Ashley, and myself. We'll be the ones in orange who are super excited to be there!