A program that attracts many students to Western Illinois University is agriculture. WIU offers a number of different majors and minors in ag that give students many different options. This is great for our area because not only is Macomb filled with agriculture, but so are many surrounding smaller towns are too. There are also many students that are looking for a career in agriculture that may have not grew up around the resources to do so. After growing up on a farm and seeing how important agriculture is to our society, I take great appreciation in the students learning to feed us at WIU. And that brings me to today’s blog topic…the annual WIU Ag Mech Show.
The 43rd Annual Ag Mech Show will take place in Western Hall on February 9th and 10th. The show will run on Saturday (Feb. 9) from 9AM to 5PM and then on Sunday (Feb. 10) from 10AM to 4PM. Dr. Bart Gill, a WIU agriculture professor, stressed to me how the students are the ones that “run the show”… no pun intended. An executive committee of Ag Mech students, made up of 14 students, organizes and runs the show. The committee members work on everything from advertising to arranging specific areas of the show, and everything in between. WIU Ag Mech student, Daniel Mitchell is the director of show operations and is the one who registers all of the vendors for the event. Dr. Gill, who advises the students, says, “I don’t make decisions for them. I simply just make suggestions and they make the final decision.” And they must make good ones because the Ag Mech Show attracts five to six thousand people each year!
The main reason the students put so much time and effort into this event is because they see the value of the show and what could come from all their hard work. The show attracts vendors of different companies from near and far; this allows the students the opportunity to network with ag professionals. This is great for internship opportunities, making connections, and possibly finding a job for the future. The show is also beneficial to the vendors. It attracts business and also gives them a chance to network and find some potential employees. The show is well-ran, convenient, and all the vendors are well informed prior to the event… it is a win-win situation!
I asked Dr. Gill if he thought this event would carry on over the next several years. He has no doubt in his mind, “this show is going to be around for awhile,” said Dr. Gill. Aside from the student and vendor benefits, the show brings in revenue for Macomb and it is great publicity for the university. The Mayor of Macomb, Mike Inman and WIU’s president, Dr. Jack Thomas think the show is an asset to the community and the university. It has become one of the biggest, student-ran events around which makes it very attractive to the public. “There is a little bit for everyone here,” says Dr. Gill. I remember attending the Ag Mech Show as a little girl and have continued to go as I grew older. And I plan to make an appearance this year… I hope I see you there!