Tazewell County news briefs

This year’s STEM Academy was a collaboration between University of Illinois Extension, Pearl Technology, Richwoods Township, Caterpillar, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and Amazon Web Services that taught middle school students cutting edge technology through learning how to use Amazon Web Services to race Deep Racer autonomous vehicles. (Photo courtesy of U of I Extension)


Students learn computer science skills at STEM Academy

Middle school students learned how cars can drive themselves as part of the fourth annual STEM Academy put on by University of Illinois Extension Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit, Pearl Technology, Richwoods Township, Caterpillar, Tri-County Regional Planning, and Amazon Web Services earlier this summer.

This year, participants were able to learn about, train and race 1/18 scale autonomous vehicles, while learning about artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning and computer coding. A unique aspect of this camp is the amount of one-on-one time participants get with local Caterpillar engineers and programmers.  One participant highlighted his interaction with the volunteers as his favorite part of the Academy, “I learned so much from him– he was very patient and taught me a lot about coding I didn’t know.”

The demand for workers skilled in computer science is projected to continually increase (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The need for more youth to be able to see themselves in local STEM careers is one of the reasons that STEM Academy began four years ago.

Each year participants work on a week-long project with local STEM industry volunteers. They also hear from local STEM employers about career pathways and important steps to take while they are in school.

Ninety two percent of participants said that STEM Academy made them more excited to take STEM classes in school.

Because the autonomous cars they taught to drive were not even available to the general public at the time of the camp, the group will reconvene in the fall when the cars are released so each participant can race their own vehicle, which they will get to keep thanks to additional financial support provided by Pearl Technology and Richwoods Township.

Past STEM Academy projects included using an Arduino to create a secret-lock box, using a Raspberry Pi to create a mirror that could display the local weather, learning about amateur radio and making a live call to the International Space Station.

STEM activities such as this are an integral part of the 4-H youth development program through University of Illinois Extension. More information is available online at https://extension.illinois.edu/fmpt or by contacting Judy Schmidt, 4-H Metro Youth Educator, at schmid7@illinois.edu or 309-685-3140.

ICC to hold ag, diesel and horticulture expo

Illinois Central College will host a special Agriculture, Diesel, and Horticulture Showcase for potential and current students to learn about in-demand careers.

The showcase, sponsored by Compeer Financial, provides attendees an opportunity to speak with ICC faculty, local employers and vendors, and industry specialists from a range of career and technically based programs in agriculture, diesel, and horticulture.

The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the ICC East Peoria Campus at the Agricultural and Industrial Technologies Building.  The free showcase features a student panel Q&A session, industry speakers, and lunch.

Representatives from more than 20 local businesses will be on hand to demonstrate the sophisticated technology used to provide goods and services to farmers, producers and other agricultural businesses.  Tours of the Agricultural and Industrial Technologies Building, the Horticulture Center, and live demonstrations of diesel equipment, construction equipment, and highway trucks will be available.

“There are many jobs available in the agriculture, horticulture, and diesel industries, but only a limited number of employable applicants trained in the emerging technologies,” said ICC Agricultural and Industrial Technology Professor Grant Grebner.  “That’s why ICC has partnered with local businesses in these fields to successfully train students with the desired high-tech skills.”

Attendees will have access to information regarding degrees, certificates, and “Earn and Learn” opportunities in these fields.  ICC Enrollment Services also will be on hand to answer questions regarding applying to the College and specific program admittance requirements.

To register and for more information, visit icc.edu/ag-diesel-hort or call ICC at 309-694-5200.

OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital gets new president

Mike Wells has been named president of OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois. He has served as vice president since June 2018.

Mike Wells

Wells will be accountable for oversight of all internal operations of OSF Children’s Hospital, while developing and implementing short-term tactics within the long-term strategies of the OSF Women & Children’s Service Line. This will ensure high quality and cost-effective health care to children and families.

“I’m honored to serve alongside our talented, compassionate team of leaders and caregivers at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, some of whom founded and built the hospital into the destination center it is today. We have a responsibility to provide the highest level of care for children from across Illinois and beyond,” said Wells.

“To accomplish that, we will incorporate cutting edge technology and techniques to advance inpatient care, further develop specialty and multidisciplinary clinics for complex conditions, extend our expertise to support care in communities throughout our service area, and continue developing innovative ways to provide access to care. Most importantly, we will carry on our OSF Sisters’ Mission of serving with the greatest care and love. The future is exciting for Children’s Hospital and it is a privilege to be part of it!”

Wells joined OSF Children’s Hospital in 2005 as the director of the Resource Link program and has assumed roles of increasing responsibility over the years.

He received a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Illinois State University and went on to earn his master’s degree in clinical counseling psychology.


Quarter auction to benefit Neuroscience Research Foundation

The Morton Kiwanis will host a quarter auction on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Morton Knights of Columbus 616 W. David St. in Morton.

Food and drink will be available for purchase.  Doors will open at 5 p.m. with the auction to begin at 6 p.m.  Admission is $3 which includes 1 paddle.  Additional paddles may be purchased for $2.

A quarter auction t is a group of vendors raffling off over 50 items or baskets valued at $10 to $50 for quarters.  If you like bingo or auctions, you will enjoy this event.  Bring some quarters.

All proceeds will benefit the Kiwanis Neuroscience Research Foundation.  The foundation awards grants to researchers working on related areas.  Some of these researchers are working on Alzheimer and some on trimers.

For more information, contact Nancy at 309-467-4750 or by email at tnt39@mtco.com.

You may also contact her if you would like to be a vendor or if you would just

like to donate an item.



IDNR  gets ready for fall waterfowl hunting

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reminding waterfowl hunters of key dates and other information regarding the 2019-20 waterfowl seasons and beyond.

The application periods for Illinois Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permits are now open, with application periods of Sept. 1-14 for the second lottery, and Sept. 15-28 for the third lottery. Permits remaining after the third lottery will be available on a first-come, first-served basis online starting Oct. 1. Permits are no longer mailed to successful participants but will be emailed, and participants can check the status of their permit application online and print their permit.

More information, including online applications, instructions and a list of participating sites is available on the IDNR website at:



Annual genealogical workshop to held in Pekin

Tazewell County Genealogical and Historical Society’s annual fall Harvest Time for Genealogists Workshop will take place Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ehrlicher Research Center, 719 N 11th St., Pekin.

Dr. Michael D. Lacopo returns for the all-day workshop.

Registration is still only $30 per person which includes all lectures, handouts, morning refreshments and a luncheon.  Sign up online at www.tcghs.org or stop by TCGHS during regular hours to sign-up in person.

Join us for the following lectures, all designed to aid your research:

Mennonite Research: The Forgotten Swiss Germans

Finding Dead Ancestors is Easy: Finding the Living can be a Challenge!

Using Y-DNA Testing for Advanced Genealogical Problem Solving

Using Mitochondrial DNA Testing for Genealogical Problem Solving