University News

WIU Aggies Win National Agriculture Competition for Fifth Year in a Row

December 11, 2019

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MACOMB, IL – For a fifth year in a row, the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture "Aggies" have won the national College Aggies Online (CAO) competition and $2,500 in scholarship money for the WIU Agriculture Club.

About 60 WIU agriculture students participated in the yearlong competition. Students took part in a variety of educational components on campus and around the region. The WIU club is comprised of students in the Communicating Agricultural Issues class at Western, taught by School of Agriculture Instructor Jana Knupp.

Projects completed as part of this year's competition included:

• Handing out chocolate milk at WIU's Homecoming 5K to promote chocolate milk as a refueling source.

• Teaching more than 10 ag lessons at Lincoln Elementary School

• Hosting several WIU groups for tours at the WIU farm

• Collecting more than 1,500 pounds of canned food goods for the WIU Food Pantry

• Handing out over 2,000 pieces of candy with food myths and the truths attached to them

In addition to the club win, two WIU students were singled out for recognition by the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which hosted the competition. WIU senior agriculture major Cassie Perrin, of Coopersville, MI, won a $2,500 scholarship for capturing first place in the competition's individual category. WIU junior agriculture major Paige Skinner, of Berwick, IL, was named one of 11 winners of the CAO Excellence Award.

"Recently I observed a t-shirt in a store that read, 'Winners Win.' I believe this sums up our attitude within the School of Agriculture," said WIU School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker. "You can't become complacent in a tough, difficult environment. You have to possess the drive, dedication and passion to push through and succeed. For the past five years, our students have competed with the drive, dedication and passion to promote the animal agricultural industry to not only be the best team in the nation, but the best team in the nation for five years in a row. Congratulations to all of the students who competed this year and their faculty member Ms. Jana Knupp for guiding them through this yearly competition."

This year, more than 300 students and 20 collegiate clubs nationwide took part in the competition, representing 95 colleges and 35 states. The first and second place winners in each division receive a free trip to the Alliance's 2020 Stakeholders Summit, May 7-8 in Arlington, VA.

Over the last four years, more than 300 WIU students have participated in the competitive events, which provide the real-life application of communicating agricultural topics with the general public. 

The CAO program is an initiative of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which connects college students from across the country interested in the promotion of agriculture. For more information about the program, visit For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit

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