Ag teachers gather in Kreher for training

The future of Illinois agriculture is gathering yesterday and today in the Kreher Agriculture Center! Forty-eight new ag teachers from across the state are learning how to run the best ag and FFA programs. Bill Harmon, agriculture program coordinator, was interviewed by WFMB about hosting the training conference, along with LLCC alum Jennifer Waters, program advisor for Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE) of the Illinois State Board of Education. WICS also interviewed Bill as well as Mason Fesser, another LLCC alum and new ag teacher at Nokomis High School.

WFMB interview with LLCC alum Jennifer WatersWICS interview with LLCC alum Mason Fesser

Spring bird banding results

The spring 2021 bird banding season (our 17th banding season at LLCC!) contained these highlights:

  • 1,113 birds of 79 species were banded over 55 banding days this spring.
  • The above numbers translate into 20.2 birds banded/day.
  • We had 353 repeat captures (birds banded earlier in the spring season) and 124 return captures (birds banded during an earlier season).
  • The top five species banded (based on the number banded) were: Dark-eyed Junco, Swainson’s Thrush, Gray Catbird, White-throated Sparrow and Northern Waterthrush.
  • One new species (Acadian Flycatcher) was added to our cumulative station species total, which currently stands at 128 species.
  • The cumulative total number of birds banded (over 17 seasons) at the LLCC BBS is 27,935 birds.

One of the more interesting recaptures was a Northern Cardinal that was originally banded in spring 2013. This spring’s capture (eight years later) was the first time this bird had been recaptured since it was originally banded. We also recaptured two Gray Catbirds that were originally banded in 2016. Each of these birds has successfully made at least five round trip migrations between Illinois and Central/South America. An amazing feat for these relatively small creatures!

The fall 2021 season is scheduled to begin Aug. 19.

Tony Rothering, professor of biology

LLCC Agriculture Club wins awards at state and national PAS conferences

Twenty-eight LLCC Agriculture Club members competed at the Illinois Postsecondary Agriculture Student (PAS) Conference held virtually Feb. 22-25. LLCC then moved on to compete in the virtual National PAS Conference March 15-19 with students from 33 colleges and universities. These contests are designed to test their knowledge and readiness for their future careers.

Clayton Walch, Alexis Carroll, Mackenzie Harmon and Carson Lobdell

Winning first place at nationals – first row: Clayton Walch, Alexis Carroll; second row: Mackenzie Harmon, Carson Lobdell

In the national soils competition, Clayton Walch (Raymond) placed first, Alexis Carroll (Carrollton) second and Sam Van Rheeden (Chestnut) third individually. As a team, they placed second at nationals and recorded a third-place finish at state.

In the employment interview competition, Carson Lobdell (Darlington, Wis.), Mackenzie Harmon (Morrisonville) and Carroll won first place in their divisions. Emily Curry (New Berlin) and Braylee Finck (Maroa) placed second. At state, Finck, Harmon, Carroll and Lobdell placed first in their respective divisions. Annie Jackson (Jacksonville) and Curry placed second, and Madison Thomas (Mt. Pulaski) placed third.

The LLCC college bowl team of Carroll, Brian Kenshol (Mt. Pulaski), Curry, Thomas and Harmon placed third overall at nationals. At the state event, this team, with the addition of Shawn Goebel (Harvel) and Walch, was undefeated in the round robin tourney and won first place for the fifth year in a row.

Other state awards include Kenshol winning first place individually in the ag sales contest, and Chase Tomhave (Jacksonville) placing second.

The crops specialist team of Goebel, Fuller Anderson (Atwater) and Ashley Johnes (Batchtown) placed second; and the team of Van Rheeden, Ben Reno (Medora) and Harmon placed third.

In the livestock specialist contests, LLCC’s swine, beef, sheep and overall teams each placed third. Swine team members are Makenzie Hereth (Woodbine, Md.), Brooklyn Wurm (Monroeville, Ind.), and Anderson. Beef team members are Wyatt Johnson (La Harpe), Brayden Freeman (Winchester) and Rachael Rogers (Kendallville, Ind.). Sheep team members are Breanna Knittel (Greenfield), Emma Peters (Versailles, Ohio), Jett Vickery (Taylorville), Griffin Harms (Chatham), Evan McClain (Albany, Ind.) and Sam Stickley (Saint Paris, Ohio). The overall team members are Colby Hough (Mount Airy, Md.), Lobdell and Kade Shiery (Camden, Mich.).

Redesigned Sustain Springfield Green Map

Looking for a community garden, recycling resources, car charging stations and other environmentally-friendly services? Let the recently redesigned Sustain Springfield Green Map show the way! It highlights where all things “green” in Springfield can be found. The Urban Action Network has partnered with LLCC’s GIS program, including Professor Dean Butzow and Instructor Rey de Castro, to provide the online map. Check out the map to start your adventure and discover more of Springfield! https://arcg.is/u14Hq.

Green Map Categories. Green Map Resources. Recycling, Waste/Reuse, Environmental Organization, Farmers Market, Farms, Community Gardens, Parks, Recreation Facilities, Wildlife/Zoo, E-Car Charging Station, Transportation. Covers Springfield area.

Fall bird banding results issued

The final report for the fall 2020 bird banding season (our 16th banding season at LLCC!) contains these highlights:

  • 1,947 birds of 88 species were banded over 74 banding days this fall. The number of species (88) is a new record for any given season!
  • The above numbers translate into 35.4 birds banded/day.
  • We had 397 recaptures (birds banded earlier in the fall or banded in an earlier season).
  • The oldest bird we recaptured was a Blue Jay that was banded in 2014.
  • The top five species banded (based on the number banded) were: Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, American Robin, White-throated Sparrow and House Finch.
  • Over the Halloween weekend, we did a little nocturnal banding and successfully captured 10 owls: two Eastern Screech Owls and eight Northern Saw-whet Owls (our target species). One of the Northern Saw-whet Owls was a recapture; it had been banded in 2019 near Duluth, Minn.
  • One new species was banded at the station (Red-shouldered Hawk), which brings our cumulative station total to 26,822 birds banded of 127 species.

On a side note, the 28 bluebird boxes that are currently on campus were highly productive! Out of 42 nesting attempts, 179 eggs were laid, and 122 birds fledged out (successfully left the nest). The young birds that successfully left the nest included: 72 Eastern Bluebirds, 20 Tree Swallows, 19 House Sparrows, nine House Wrens and two Black-capped Chickadees.

The spring 2021 season is scheduled to begin March 18.

Tony Rothering, professor of biology

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Downy Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Nocturnal bird banding

Biology Professor Tony Rothering led a nocturnal banding this past weekend targeting a migratory owl species — the Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO). They banded six of the owls, and the seventh was a foreign recapture (meaning it was already banded by another bander/banding station). That particular bird was banded last year (2019) near Duluth, Minnesota. These recaptures provide information on distribution, longevity, migration pattern and habitat requirements. They also banded two Eastern Screech Owls (EASO). Professor Rothering says COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from inviting the public to the LLCC bird banding station at this time, but hopefully next year!

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO)

NSWO Stink Eye

Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO)

UV light image of an NSWO wing

Northern Saw-whet owl in black light. The black light helps to age the bird as certain pigments (called porphyrins that naturally fluoresce when exposed to UV light) degrade fairly quickly when exposed to sunlight. The owl in the black light photo has relatively new feathers that have a consistent pink fluorescence, which tells us this bird hatched this year (2020).

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Info session tonight on math, computers, sciences and ag

LLCC Math, Computer Science, Natural and Agricultural SciencesProspective students are invited to an info session this evening at 5:30 p.m. to learn about programs in LLCC’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department and Natural and Agricultural Sciences Department. Please encourage any prospective students you know to sign up at www.llcc.edu/forward.

These info sessions are a part of October’s Moving Forward to LLCC events, which include virtual info sessions, a campus cruise and more!