Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Horn Field Campus 2013 Corn Maze Created by Alum, Former Marine; Design Based on WIU Logo
September 12, 2013
MACOMB, IL — Every autumn, hundreds of fall-activity and Halloween enthusiasts head out to Western's Horn Field Campus to experience its annual Corn Maze.
This year, the Corn Maze will be open 8-10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night and from 1-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday afternoon beginning Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 27. The annual Haunted Corn Maze will scare up some fun from 8-11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Cost to enter the weekend Corn Maze events is $5 per person (ages 13 and older) and $2 for children. Cost to enter the Haunted Maze is $5 per person. (See the Horn Field Campus website for more info.).
This year, the maze's design has special significance not only for Western Illinois University, but also for the alumnus who designed it.
John Moninger, a graduate of WIU's recreation, park and tourism administration (RPTA) program, designed and created the Corn Maze based on Western's Marine-style logo. (WIU is the only public school in the U.S. that has permission through the Department of the Navy to use the United States Marine Corps official seal, mascot [the bulldog] and nickname, "The Fighting Leathernecks.")
To finish his bachelor's degree in RPTA (13 years after he initially started at Western), Moninger served as an intern as Horn Field Campus this past summer. One of his major projects for his internship was to create the Corn Maze. For him, a former Marine, basing the maze's design on the Marine-style logo was a way for him to show pride in his soon-to-be alma mater, as well as in his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In a short bio piece Moninger wrote for HFC's quarterly newsletter, "Horn Happenings," he shared how he first chose to come to WIU (back in 2000), as well as how he left Western in 2004 to join the Marines.
"When I was 15 years old I acquired my first job as a lifeguard at Flick Pool in Glenview, IL. I loved working outdoors so much I stayed on and did it part time for almost 10 years. I had not thought too much about what my major was going to be at WIU until I was a second-semester sophomore. So, I talked to my aquatics supervisor, who is a WIU alumna, and she told me to get into the RPTA department. I completed four years of college courses and instead of finishing up my degree, I made a life-changing decision to join the U.S. Marine Corps. I served my country for five years with several overseas' deployments, one of them being Iraq in 2009. I was also in Okinawa, Japan, for my last year in the military and had the honor of assisting Japan in the Tsunami disaster relief in 2011," Moninger wrote.
After he left the Marine Corps, Moninger said he decided to come back to Western "to finish what he started," with the assistance of the G.I. Bill.
"By this time I was a completely different person, and I was ready to take on any obstacle that stood in my way of getting my degree. I was fortunate enough to have had the course, RPTA 376, 'Perspectives in Outdoor Recreation,' with [Horn Field Campus Program Coordinator and RPTA Instructor] Mindy Pheiffer in Fall 2012. This was my bridge to Horn Field Campus, where I decided, if Mindy would have me, I was going to finally complete my internship… and my degree," he explained.
Pheiffer noted she is honored to have crossed paths with Moninger and is pleased she could assist him in completing his degree and was equally as pleased to have his help at Horn Field over the summer.
"John did his fair share of facilitating and belaying high ropes course activities for many groups. He was my right hand at every turn all summer long," she added. "So many more doors will be opened to him with his degree. The sky's the limit for his future."
As for Moninger, he said he considers his time serving at Horn Field Campus as a privilege and embraced the work, even though, in addition to working the high ropes course, it was comprised of such labor-intensive activities as trail clearing, grounds keeping, cabin cleaning and, of course, designing and creating the Corn Maze.
"I [took] every opportunity to learn more about the outdoors, which I love so much, from all the experienced personnel that came through Horn Field Campus. Whatever my next endeavor in life is, I know the skills and knowledge I will obtain from my internship at Horn Field Campus will ensure I prosper."