University News

WIU's Project Eager Focuses on Illinois Ag Reports, Meetings Set

July 27, 2005

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MACOMB, IL – International markets present enormous potential for Illinois agricultural products. However, many producers and processors aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity. Project EAGER (Exports: Agricultural Growth and Economic Recovery), a new program at Western Illinois University, is designed to get Illinois agricultural products into foreign markets, which can help regional economies around the state.

“Unfortunately, exporting products involves several management and marketing aspects that many small- and medium-size producers aren’t familiar with and they don’t have the time and money to overcome these obstacles,” said John Carlson, WIU agriculture professor and Project EAGER director. “The goal of this program is to help producers get through the barriers that keep them from exporting their products.”

Project EAGER meetings will be held beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 15 at WesternÂ’s Macomb campus, Knoblauch Hall 239, and Thursday, Aug. 25 at the McLean County Farm Bureau, 402 N. Hershey St., Bloomington (IL). The registration fee is $10 per person and pre-registration is required. Additional workshops will be held this fall in northern and southern Illinois.

Project EAGER, which is funded by the United States Department of Education under the Business and International Education program, is comprised of various members of the WIU faculty including Kevin Bacon, agriculture; Mary Holmes, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs; Rolf Hackman, marketing and finance; and Rajeev Sawhney, management. Carlson added that teaming up with the faculty from the College of Business and Technology and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs are the Center for International Studies, Opportunity Returns, the Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“By utilizing the strength of each of these groups, Project EAGER will provide several aspects of export education, including online educational modules and faculty-led student teams that will partner with a small- or medium-size business that has an exportable product,” Carlson explained. “This will not only help these businesses reach their goal of exporting, but will also bring practical experience into the education of WIU students. Our first step in this process, however, is to have meetings at various locations around the state to let people know more about Project EAGER and about exporting.”

For more information and to pre-register, contact Mary Holmes, 508 Stipes Hall, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455-1390, or call 309/298-2674.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing