Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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WIU Ag Ed Major Elected IL PAS VP
March 23, 2009
MACOMB, IL -- For the rest of this year and for some of 2010, Western Illinois University student Kate Wedekind will be traveling by and around the idyllic farm fields of Illinois. Wedekind, 20, a junior agriculture education major, will be promoting her soon-to-be chosen field of agriculture in her new role as the 2009-10 vice president of the Illinois Postsecondary Agricultural Student (IL PAS) Organization. IL PAS provides career programs in agriculture, agribusiness and natural resources at approved postsecondary institutions.
Daughter of Wayne and Rebecca Wedekind of Butler (IL), Wedekind has grown up in the agriculture industry, and her desire to make an impact in the field of agriculture led her down the path of ag education.
"I grew up a farm -- my dad has a large confinement hog operation and my grandparents grain farm," Wedekind explained. "I grew up showing Spotted swine while involved with 4-H and FFA. I'm now finishing my term as secretary on the Team Purebred Junior Board, which is a junior association for youth who show Berkshire, Chester White, Poland and Spotted swine."
Wedekind, who intends to teach agriculture to high school students, noted that showing livestock has had a positive effect on her life and has influenced her career choice. "It taught me to work hard and to be dedicated to things you are passionate about. My grandparents' and parents' dedication to the agriculture industry encouraged me to choose agriculture education as my major. I want to teach so I can have an impact on future ag industry professionals," she said.
Before coming to Western this academic year, Wedekind attended Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield (IL). There, she served as secretary for the college's IL PAS chapter.
"While I attended Lincoln Land, I competed in several agriculture-related competitions, including livestock specialist and impromptu speaking contests. I also served as a junior leader in 4-H and earned the 'I Dare You' and 'Outstanding Member' awards in 2005. I earned my American FFA Degree this year, and in 2006, I was a district winner in my proficiency area, Swine Production Entrepreneurship," Wedekind said.
Wedekind chose to continue her college career as an ag education major and transferred to WIU in Fall 2008. She noted that one of the major reasons she decided to attend Western was so she could benefit from Western's agriculture education curriculum and have the opportunity to learn from Andrew Baker, professor in WIU's ag ed department.
"I came to Western because of Dr. Baker's agriculture education program. He feels it's important to have hands on experience before student teaching, and when I was learning about Western, I really liked that approach to education," Wedekind said.
In addition to currently serving as the secretary in Western's Agriculture Education Club, actively participating in the ag department's Hoof and Horn Club and a serving as a council representative for the Collegiate FFA, Wedekind is also working toward an endorsement in biology, which will enable her to teach science at the high school level when she completes her bachelor's degree.
A Driving Force
While the national PAS organization (www.nationalpas.org) is open to membership from students attending both community colleges and four-year institutions, prior to the 2008-09 academic year, IL PAS was only open to membership from students attending community colleges or those enrolled in ag vocational programs. Wedekind said she hopes to be a driving force behind integrating Illinois' four-year higher education institutions into the IL PAS structure.
"This will offer me the opportunity to help showcase Western's agriculture department, as well as work with IL PAS to help the organization integrate four-year colleges," Wedekind noted.
Although her active involvement in the various ag department clubs and activities at WIU, and serving in her new role as IL PAS vice president, will keep her very busy for the rest of this calendar year, Wedekind isn't daunted by the challenge.
"As I mentioned before, Dr. Baker's program is very thorough in preparing us for the field, so I feel that I've made the best choice of schools for my ag education major," she said. "Serving as vice president for IL PAS will also allow me to make valuable connections with current high school ag teachers, state ag educational staff and other members of the industry. I'm confident these connections will not only be pertinent in my career, but will also be beneficial to my future students."
According to Baker, Western will be well represented by Wedekind in the IL PAS organization.
"Kate's dedication to the future of the agriculture field is evident by her involvement in the ag department's offerings here at WIU, as well as her involvement in activities outside of Western, such as serving as IL PAS vice president," he said. "Her future students will benefit greatly from her well-rounded experience and passion for the agriculture industry."
Visit IL PAS online at www.illinoispas.org. For more information, contact Baker at (309) 298-1246 or AJ-Baker@wiu.edu. Contact Wedekind at KA-Wedekind@wiu.edu.
Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606