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Highland Agriculture Students Compete at Illinois PAS Conference

Photo of Michelle Johnson, Madison Folk, Shelby Judd, Kaiti Collins, Shelby Fryar, Kristy Kruger, Katie Hoffman, Matt Holste, Aaron Ackerman, Justin Kalina, Leland Houzenga, Andrew Gustafson

Sixteen Highland Community College Agriculture students recently participated in the Illinois Professional Agriculture Students (PAS) Annual Conference at Lincoln Land College in Springfield, Ill.

The conference included competitions in mock job interviews, agriculture sale competitions, agriculture knowledge quiz bowl, and a number of agriculture-specific team competitions that included general knowledge exams, problem-solving scenarios, and current issue student presentations.

The students also participated in a business session that elected new state officers and updated the Illinois PAS name from Post-Secondary Agriculture Students to the current title of Professional Agriculture Students. The name change aligns the state organization with the direction of Highland’s national affiliation.

“I believe that the PAS Conference provides a great opportunity for our students to collaborate with peers from other colleges while showcasing their abilities to potential employers,” said Justin Ebert, agriculture instructor. “I congratulate everyone that participated and encourage all of our students to give PAS a try, you never know when you might meet someone that will give you an opportunity you never saw coming.”

PAS is a national student organization that provides opportunities for college agriculture students to experience individual growth, leadership and career preparation through competition and cooperative activities.

Congratulations to the following Highland Agriculture students who competed in their content areas:

  • AG Sales Presentation – Aaron Ackerman (Pecatonica)
  • Forestry and Natural Resources Job Interview; Emily Denekas, first place (Shannon)
  • AG Equipment Service Job Interview; Andy Gustafson, first place (Byron)
  • Crop Production Job Interview; Leland Houzenga (Fulton)
  • Livestock Production Job Interview; Kaiti Collins (Forreston)
  • Feed and Animal Health Job Interview; Shelby Fryar (Lanark)
  • Dairy Specialist Team #1; second place; Carli Reeverts, fourth place (Rockford); Madison Folk, fifth place (Dakota); Brooklynn Hollis, sixth place (German Valley)
  • Dairy Specialist Team #2; third place; Matt Holste, seventh place (Rock City); Shelby Judd, eighth place (Milledgeville) Lucas Boomgarden (Freeport)
  • Equine Specialist Team (First Place); Kaiti Collins, first place (Forreston); Katie Hoffman, second place, (Savanna); Kristy Kruger, eighth place (Scales Mound)
  • Floriculture Specialist Team; third Place; Michelle Johnson, fourth place (Stockton)
  • Beef Specialist Team; Kaiti Collins (Forreston), Madison Folk (Dakota), and Michelle Johnson (Stockton)
  • Swine Specialist Team; Aaron Ackerman, ninth place (Pecatonica); Shelby Fryar (Lanark); Justin Kalina (Lanark)
  • Crop Specialist Team; Matt Holste, seventh place (Rock City), Andy Gustafson (Byron), Leland Houzenga (Fulton)
  • Soil Specialist Team; third place; Leland Houzenga, fourth place (Fulton); Shelby Fryar, seventh place (Lanark); Andy Gustafson (Byron)
  • AG Quiz Bowl Team; Aaron Ackerman (Pecatonica), Kaiti Collins (Forreston), Shelby Fryar (Lanark), Andy Gustafson (Byron), Leland Houzenga (Fulton)

Students that placed in their respective areas will have the opportunity to participate in the National PAS Conference held March 13-16, 2019 in Loveland, CO.  If you have any questions or would like more information about the Highland Community College Agriculture program or the PAS organization, please contact Justin Ebert at or Monica Pierce at

Front Row  (Left to right) Michelle Johnson, Madison Folk, Shelby Judd, Kaiti Collins, Shelby Fryar, Kristy Kruger, Katie Hoffman: Back Row (left to right)  Matt Holste, Aaron Ackerman, Justin Kalina, Leland Houzenga, Andrew Gustafson; Not pictured – Carli Reeverts, Emily Denekas, Brooklynn Hollis, Lucas Boomgarden.