CARBONDALE, Ill. — Kyleigh Decker, a junior from Casey, Ill. and member of the Saluki Softball team, received the Virginia Gordon Scholarship for the 2018-19 academic school year. Decker is studying to become a physician’s assistant.
“When you talk about Kyleigh, she really embodies what student-athlete means,” said head softball coach Kerri Blaylock. “She’s one of the best athletes we have and in the classroom she’s working hard to pursue her dream of becoming a physician’s assistant. She’s just phenomenal.”
“When I signed my National Letter of Intent (NLI) to come to SIU, I knew that I would have to start focusing on a future beyond athletics,” said Decker. “That’s when I found a love for medicine.”
Her hard work in the classroom has paid off as she has been recognized for her academic achievements in each of her first two years at SIU. She is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Scholar-Athlete, was named to the MVC’s Academic Honor Roll and is an MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award recipient.
Decker has excelled on the softball field as well. As a freshman, she hit a two-run home run in her first plate appearance and went on to start 17 games for the Salukis. As a sophomore, Decker started in all 53 games. She hit .273 with seven doubles, two triples and seven home runs to go along with her 23 RBIs. She finished second on the team in runs scored (33) and third in home runs (7).
Said Blaylock, “she’s one of the most mature and driven players I’ve ever coached.”
“The Virginia Gordon Scholarship isn’t just an award to me,” said Decker. “It’s an opportunity to open new doors and to become the person I’ve dreamed of being!”
Paul Georgy’s decision to donate $50,000 was based largely on his passion for SIU Farms and his hope to inspire a new generation of students and alumni.
“Alumni can step up and get stuff done,” he said. “We can make a nice home for the livestock. We can get more hands-on opportunities for the students and open some eyes to the farms.”
For two current students, the impact of Georgy’s gift is already being felt. Not only has it brought new livestock to the farms, it’s strengthened their Saluki spirits.
IMPROVED STUDENT EXPERIENCE
Chloe Buchanan and Logan Kennard share a passion for livestock and agriculture. A chance to learn and work at SIU Farms is what drew each of them to SIU.
“The opportunity to learn hands-on at the farms gives SIU students the upper hand when it comes to job placement or admission into higher levels of education, such as veterinarian school or master’s programs,” said Buchanan, a senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana. “The farms have always been a special place for me because I have always felt welcome and comfortable there.”
Both Buchanan and Kennard are members of the Livestock Judging Team. Kennard, a senior from Mount Carmel, is the team president.
“The new pigs will make it easier for us to practice,” Kennard said. “Previously, the swine center only had pigs with production-oriented genetics. There is a divide between show stock and production stock. Having show-quality pigs will allow us to practice on campus instead of traveling or relying on Web-based classes.”
A DEEP APPRECIATION
SIU Farms will continue feeling the effect of Georgy’s gift long after the delivery of the new pigs and cattle.
The importance of the donation has made an impression on everyone connected to the beef and swine centers.
“Knowing that there are alumni and supporters whose lives were changed by the farms – just like mine had been – is something that keeps me going,” Buchanan said. “It’s just another reason I’m so thankful that I go to SIU.”
Beyond adding better pigs, more cattle, raising money for much-needed repairs and improvements and improving the experience of the Livestock Judging Team, Georgy’s donation will help ensure SIU Farms continues to offer a unique experience to students.
“This gift truly speaks to the influence of the program,” Kennard said. “To see that people are willing to donate their hard-earned money to the college proves to me that SIU was the right choice.”
Venture inside SIU’s beef and swine centers, and one will find students gaining hands-on experience and dedicated faculty and staff. Look a bit closer, though, and one will see a great need for improvements and expansion.
That’s exactly what University Farms Director Greg Osman is hoping a recent $50,000 donation will bring, even if it takes a little time.
The gift, made by Paul Georgy ’73, will bring a new lot of pigs and cattle to the farm. The short-term effect will be the immediate improvement of the quality of the livestock, but the long-term benefits are expected to go much further.
“This opens 100 other doors for teaching,” Osman said. “To make the necessary improvements, this is the kind of thing we’re going to need.”
GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING
The pigs were delivered to University Farms in October. They are of a higher genetic quality than previous litters. Simply, this means a higher profit down the road when they are sold.
“These are show-quality pigs,” Osman said. “They’re going to help us improve the foundation of our program.”
Bringing in show-quality pigs will also mean an improved experience for the Livestock Judging Team.
“Before, our students were going to shows and looking at the high-quality pigs brought by other teams, and thinking ‘What the heck?’” said Colten Collier, manager of the beef and swine centers. “Now they’ll know what it’s like to be on the other side of that.”
As for the cattle, that’s more of a numbers game.
Georgy’s donation will bring more cattle onto the farm, and the increase will bring in more money and help the beef center become more self-sustaining.
“We’ll be able to better utilize our pastures and fill them with our own calves,” Osman said.
The profit from selling more and higher-quality animals will inject new money into the farms and allow for much-needed improvements.
Collier and Osman were quick to point out that they’re not talking about major overhauls, but repairing and replacing some of the farms most basic needs, such as fences.
FILLING THE NEED
Georgy, a Trenton native, came to SIU as a transfer student. His dorm room for the first year at SIU was located at the beef center.
“Each farm had a dorm room,” he said. “We were able to experience farm life and student life at the same time.”
As a student, he was a member of SIU’s Livestock Judging Team, which managed to win their first competition despite their members’ lack of experience. Georgy believes the access to quality livestock is very important to building a winning team.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in animal science, Georgy spent several years managing a purebred Simmental operation before starting a research/brokerage firm, Allendale Inc., which helps producers become better marketers of their products. He spent 18 years serving the futures industry on the board of directors of the National Futures Association.
His connection to SIU Farms spurred him to take action.
“How can I impact the most people?” Georgy said. “In this venture, we have the ability to impact thousands of people.”
Georgy encourages others to get involved and make a difference, pointing out that gifts don’t have to be only monetary in nature.
“Any type of donation can benefit the whole project,” he said. “Donations of manpower, time, effort, gifts-in-kind, these are all ways that we can help restore and elevate the SIU farms to premier status.
“SIU Farms are an attribute that many other universities don’t have. It offers experiences you can’t get elsewhere. I’m excited about the opportunities that we can provide to our SIU students, parents, the community and the agricultural industry.”
For more information about how to give, visit www.foreversiu.org or www.siuf.org/giving/ways-to-give.
DAY OF GIVING ENSURES MORRIS LIBRARY STAYS AHEAD OF THE CURVE
By Rebecca Renshaw
During the 2018 SIU Day of Giving, Morris Library raised $7,455
from 36 gifts. That money was used to reach one of the library’s top
fundraising goals – installing an Adobe Creative Cloud workstation.
“This workstation provides students access to Adobe Creative
Cloud software, coupled with the computer hardware required to make the best
use of it. Most student laptops are not sufficient, even if they purchased
access to the software,” said Morris Library Dean John Pollitz.
The workstation features a Wacom Cintiq, a stylus-enabled, high-definition
display used by design professionals. This interface allows for fast, precise interaction
with digital content. It also supports the library’s 3D printing service by
offering 3D modeling software.
These devices are cost-prohibitive for students to purchase,
and they are rarely seen outside of design studios. This workstation represents
one of the very few venues in which an aspiring designer can learn to use
“The workstation helps continue to position the library as a
place where information is not just stored and retrieved, but created,” Pollitz
“The Day of Giving is one of my favorite days of the year,”
Pollitz said. “The entire community, alumni, students and staff interact
throughout the day across campus and there is just a great spirit of helping others.”
To learn about the needs of Morris Library and SIU Carbondale
Library Affairs, visit foreversiu.org/lib.