Students also learned about agribusiness at Whiskey Acres, a whiskey distillery and corn farm. Jamie Walter, cofounder of Whiskey Acres, grew up on the farm and previously practiced law. He uses consulting from Dave Pickerell, the former master distiller at Maker’s Mark, to perfect his whiskey operation. All the whiskey is made on site from corn grown on the Walter Farm, making it one of the only operations in Illinois to oversee the entire process from seed to whiskey. Leftover grains are sent to a local hog farmer or used as fuel on the farm, leaving little to no waste.
“This operation was so interesting to me because Jamie is very business-minded. He understands how to negate systematic risk, while managing his assets and revenues. This is truly the core of all economic and financial business theories,” said Kirby, an accounting and finance double major.
The variety of agricultural approaches—which also included agritourism at Jonamac Orchard, organic farming at Aaron and Paul Butler’s farm, and horticulture at Country Road Greenhouses, a wholesale native prairie business—were as diverse as the majors of students who took this course. Some students are science majors exploring the chemical regulations involved in farming. Others are business majors who saw the importance of agricultural marketing and sales negotiations. Sociology and anthropology majors observed the interactions between neighboring and competing farmers in the community. There were plenty of lessons to be learned in this trip, which is the goal of North Central’s D-Term Verandah courses. Faculty design Verandah experiences to be intellectually and personally stimulating to students.
Ressler enjoyed returning to her roots to share knowledge from her farming background and learning about new, sustainable farming techniques and unique operations. “I truly loved teaching the class and learning alongside the students,” she said.
By Amanda Cortese ’17