Farmer tweets from the field

When it comes to farmers and tools that start with “t,” the first thing that might come to mind? Tractor.

WIU graduate Colby Hunt

WIU graduate Colby Hunt

But for Colby Hunt ’03, who received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from WIU, there’s a new tool in town:


Hunt, who lives and farms near his alma mater and now serves as vice president of the McDonough County Farm Bureau, was featured recently in the McDonough County Voice for his innovative use of Twitter.

Hunt believes in using Twitter to help farmers educate the public about agriculture’s impacts on their lives. It’s something Hunt believes fewer people are aware of than in the past.

More and more people have never been on a farm or been connected at all so we’re just trying to find ways to find those people and keep them informed with what’s going on,” said Hunt.

Check out the full story in the McDonough County Voice.

History of Hero Street lives on (and has a descendant at WIU)!

Hero Street USA

Hero Street USA

Marc Wilson, author of the new book “Hero Street, U.S.A.: The Story of Little Mexico’s Fallen Soldiers,” spoke on campus Wed., Oct. 7–and brought with him an interesting companion.

Wilson, a former reporter and Associated Press executive now living in the Quad Cities area, researched the dramatic story of the “Little Mexico” neighborhood in Silvis, IL, which contributed 78 soldiers to the U.S. military during World War II and Korea, giving it the highest per-capita casualty rate of any street in the entire country. The neighborhood, established by immigrants from Guanajauto, Mexico, was officially renamed “Hero Street” in 1971.

But Wilson’s companion for the day could also be considered an expert on the topic: Tanilo “Tony” Sandoval, surviving younger brother of two of the eight soldiers from the block who were killed in action. As Wilson detailed his research, Sandoval provided his childhood memories about each of the eight soldiers killed in action.

Wilson, former owner of a newspaper in Montana, became interested in the story after hearing about it from a newspaper publisher in the Quad Cities.

“Many people in the Quad Cities still know nothing, or very little, about Hero Street,” he said.

Chronicling the prejudice, poverty, and other adversity the residents of Little Mexico had to deal with, especially during the Depression, Wilson pointed out that many of the veterans who gave their life for their country were never recognized as United States citizens, even being blackballed from the local VFW.

Their first-generation parents, unable to speak English, weren’t eligible to receive federal aid during the Depression due to their status as “aliens.” In fact, the street later recognized with the official “Hero Street” name was one of the last in the city to be paved, he said.

“These were ‘invisible’ people in many ways,” Wilson said.

At the end of the presentation, Sandoval shared with the audience the fact that, despite the poverty and prejudice he and his brothers experienced growing up, many from the younger generations of the Hero Street neighborhood, and in his family, have gone on to successful professional positions after earning an education.

Johnathon Sandoval, WIU sophomore

Johnathon Sandoval, WIU sophomore

And what could have been a better note to end on than this?:

Before the author and his guest speaker greeted audience members, Wilson explained they’d need to leave a bit early.

“We’re going to go try to catch the rest of the soccer game,” Wilson said. Sandoval’s grandson, Johnathan Sandoval, is a sophomore and Leatherneck soccer player at WIU.

Read more about the book and the story behind Hero Street in the University Relations news release and on the University Archives blog.

How is it possible to be a college student and work with the Secret Service?

Business major and U.S. Army reservist Nicole Suthard can tell you how.soldier girl

Suthard, from Wheaton, IL, featured in this recent article from the Western Courier, is attending Western Illinois University while also serving her country.

Sometimes that means having to put school on hold.

But Suthard is getting an education of its own sort in her military duties.

“I have been responsible for people, equipment and millions of dollars, sometimes under extreme circumstances, but each time has given me a building block to become a more dynamic person,” she says in the article.

(Read the rest here.)

Suthard credits WIU staff and faculty with helping her balance both school and military duties.

(And she’s not alone in doing so. Check out our recent nod from G.I. Jobs Magazine here.)