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End-of-the-year RLC Ag Banquet celebrates students, local businessman

Ten outstanding students and one community member were honored last week during the 42nd Annual Agriculture Banquet at Rend Lake College. Faculty and staff celebrated the end of another successful year with students in the five agriculture programs on campus alongside family and friends.

During the banquet, numerous students were honored with gifts and awards, including eight program-specific outstanding student awards and two overall outstanding student awards.

Each of RLC’s five agriculture programs recognized outstanding students for being standout students throughout the year. The award winners were:

  • Agriculture Business Outstanding Student of the Year: Rachel Wright of Mt. Vernon
  • Agriculture Mechanics Outstanding Students of the Year: Austin Ellison of Belleville and Blake Hayes of Kell
  • Agriculture Production & Management Outstanding Student of the Year: Jordan Eidman of Mascoutah
  • Diesel Technology Outstanding Students of the Year: Tyler Morton of Iuka and Jake Wills of Ina
  • Heavy Equipment Outstanding Students of the Year: Bill Huhman of Belleville and Chris Johnson of Mt. Vernon

The overall Outstanding Agriculture Student of the Year was awarded to both Cory Mosbacher of Prairie du Rocher and Grace Pytlinski of Waltonville. Kathy Craig, Agriculture Professor, presented the two overall winners their awards.

“These two students go above and beyond, and have left a big mark on us as faculty and their fellow students. I’m happy we had the chance to play a small part in their education,” said Craig.

OutstandingStudents AgBanquet18W
Ten Agriculture students were honored with Outstanding Student of the Year awards during the 42nd Annual Agriculture Banquet. They are, FROM LEFT, Blake Hayes (Kell), Agriculture Mechanics; Chris Johnson (Mt. Vernon), Heavy Equipment Technology; Rachel Wright (Mt Vernon), Agriculture Business; Cory Mosbacher (Prairie du Rocher), Overall; Grace Pytlinski (Waltonville), Overall; Bill Huhman (Belleville), Heavy Equipment Technology; Jake Wills (Ina), Diesel Technology; Jordan Eidman (Mascoutah), Agriculture Production & Management; Austin Ellison (Belleville), Agriculture Mechanics; and Tyler Morton (Iuka), Diesel Technology. Also pictured are RLC faculty Kathy Craig, Agriculture Professor, LEFT; Mike Burris, Agriculture Mechanics & Diesel Technology Professor, SECOND FROM LEFT; Zach Vahlkamp, Heavy Equipment Technology Professor, SECOND FROM RIGHT; and Colin Jones, Diesel Technology Instructor, RIGHT.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

One community member was also honored posthumously with the Doug Leeck Service Award for providing exceptional service to students. The late Jerry Kaufman, co-owner of Mac-Weld Machining Inc. in Carbondale, was honored for being a positive force for many RLC students in the community.

“Jerry was a huge supporter of our programs and he was always good to our students,” said Zach Vahlkamp, Heavy Equipment Technology Professor. “He really let them get into his machine shop and start putting things together. We relied on Jerry to get us through, and he was always on the front line for us.”

The award was accepted by his daughter Tina Goetz, who said during an emotional speech, “We’re going to miss him a lot. I appreciate everything you’ve done for him, and I know he loved what you all do here. These students were important to him. Rend Lake plants seeds all over. It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever seen, and I wish you all the best.”