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Ag Banquet celebrates 40 years of successful program at RLC

Students, graduates, and faculty of Rend Lake College’s many agriculture programs celebrated the department’s 40th birthday last week at the Annual Agricultural Banquet, held in Waugh Gymnasium on the Ina campus.

During the banquet, countless students were honored with gifts from faculty, including nine outstanding student awards. In addition to the awards, two keynote speakers, a slideshow of students working both in the classroom and out, and the awarding of the Henry Douglas Leeck Service Award were all highlights of the evening.

Terry Wilkerson, RLC President and 1992 Outstanding Ag Student of the Year, first addressed the audience with a brief history of the program and words of advice for the students.

“This is our appreciation for you, the students. It’s about you and your future,” said Wilkerson. “When you look at agriculture, the lifestyle gives you the ability to make tough decisions, work hard, and have fun. Don’t forget what you’ve learned, and don’t forget where you came from; your roots and the people who helped you get where you are. I’m glad to see you here tonight and we’re proud of you.”

Karen Nehrkorn, a 2014 graduate of RLC’s Ag program, also gave advice to current students. She encouraged students to trust in their advisors and instructors, much like she did with Wilkerson and Kathy Craig, RLC Agriculture Associate Professor, to shape their paths to graduation.

“They saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. Everybody has struggles, but in every bad experience, you learn who you can trust,” said Nehrkorn. “The people behind me taught me everything I know and I can never pay that back. I can only strive to do better. I wish you guys all the best in your futures.”

After the speakers, Lisa Price, RLC Vice President of Student Services, was awarded the Henry Douglas Leeck Service Award. Price has worked at RLC since October of 1994. Craig said Price was chosen by the faculty based on the support she gave to the programs.

“[Lisa Price is] someone who works hard for our students. She has helped out a student who had some personal issues in the past year, as well as just coming through for all of us with questions and guidance,” said Craig.


Lisa Price, Vice President of Student Services, was awarded the Henry Douglas Leeck Service Award during the Ag Banquet.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

At the close of the Ag Banquet, dozens of students were honored for their hard work during the last academic year. Nine students were awarded Outstanding Awards: Tyler Blair of Norris City with the Heavy Equipment award, Brett Morr of Columbia with the Diesel Technology award, Claire Pytlinski of Waltonville with the Ag Business award, Josh Rynski of Ashley with the Ag Production award, Patrick Suchomski of Ashley with the Ag Mechanics award, Dalton Troehler of Herrin with the Diesel Technology award, Katie Walker of McLeansboro with the Ag Business award, and Clark Wisely of Oakdale with the Ag Mechanics award.

The faculty also selected Jay Baue of Sparta for the Overall Outstanding Ag Student of the Year Award.

“We feel these students went above and beyond,” said Craig. “There are no specific qualifications for the outstanding awards. We look at how they interact with other students, what the other students think, and how we think they are going to be an outstanding representative for the college.”


Nine RLC students were honored with Outstanding Awards during the Ag Banquet. They are, FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, Claire Pytlinski (Waltonville), Patrick Suchomski (Ashley), Clark Wisely (Oakdale), Katie Walker (McLeansboro), and Tyler Blair (Norris City); BACK ROW, FROM LEFT, Brett Morr (Columbia), Josh Rynski (Ashley), Jay Baue (Sparta), and Dalton Troehler (Herrin).
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

To learn more about RLC’s Agriculture programs, visit