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Laker Nation News

Lake Land College Announces Plans for Fall 2020

Posted on July 1, 2020

Lake Land College published its Return to Campus Plan on July 1 that outlines the college’s plans for offering courses and services for the Fall 2020 semester during the pandemic. The plan aligns with the phases of the state’s Restore Illinois Plan and implements safety protocols to protect the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors.

The plan states that Fall 2020 semester courses will be offered in a variety of formats including online, virtual face-to-face, on-campus and a blend of the formats.

In order to prepare for the fall semester, the campus and extension centers will reopen to students and prospective students on August 10, 2020. At that time, students will be able to access services and meet in-person with faculty and staff in accordance with social distancing requirements. Wearing of masks that cover the nose and mouth will be required while in all Lake Land facilities.

Some computer labs on campus and at extension centers will be available for current and prospective students to access the Internet and required course materials.

College staff will be preparing campus in the month of July to accommodate the social distancing and safety precautions necessary to serve students. Virtual services will continue to be offered during this period and will remain an option through the fall semester

“As a public higher education institution in Illinois, we are required to follow directives established by the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the state of Illinois. Considering all of these factors along with input from Lake Land College leaders, our Emergency Operations Center Team developed the Return to Campus plan to provide guidance on the College’s operations during Phases 1-4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, meet the educational needs of our students, and protect the health and safety of our Laker community,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said.

Before returning to work, all Lake Land employees will complete a brief online training on the safety precautions and procedures that will be followed throughout the college community.

All employees, students and visitors will be required to complete a daily electronic self-assessment before visiting campus. The self-assessment can be found on the College’s COVID-19 website.

As in the spring, faculty and staff will do all they can to assist students with their classes and the new technologies and learning platforms.

“Whatever the future brings, we will strive to keep the Laker community safe and provide the same value, education and experiences students expect from Lake Land College,” Bullock said.

The college will be updating the class schedule to reflect the new formats in the next few weeks and will communicate to current and prospective students when completed. New students are welcome to get started at lakelandcollege.edu/enroll.





Lake Land College and CEO Program See Success in Partnership

Posted on June 23, 2020

After a successful initial year, Lake Land College and the Midland Institute’s Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program look forward to strengthening their partnership by providing college credits to students enrolled in the CEO program through dual credit.

In the Fall of 2019, the two entities joined to give the hardworking CEO students the chance to earn college credit via the Lake Land College Dual Credit Program. The CEO program was designed to teach students the principles of the free enterprise system, the four functions of management, the four elements of management information systems and the purpose of a firm’s major financial statements.

Effingham County CEO Class of 2020 student Audra Doedtman said she learned all of these things and much more during her time in the program. The things that make CEO so special, according to Doedtman, are the skills learned in the program.

“CEO teaches skills such as the power of a handshake and great communication skills,” Doedtman said. “These skills are then used to unlock incredible opportunities such as scholarships, jobs and intern opportunities.”

Doedtman said though the program may seem intimidating at first, getting up in the morning and getting dressed up was worth the outcome.

“CEO has changed so much about me,” Doedtman said. “The most important change has been my leadership skills. At the beginning of CEO I would have been terrified to have a leadership position, but now I was elected to the executive team. This has completely shifted my mindset on how I lead and how I interact with others.”

Dual Credit is a partnership between Lake Land College and district high schools that provides students the opportunity to earn college credit prior to high school graduation. In addition to the convenience of gaining college credit during the regular school day, dual credit student experience benefits such as of time savings, reduced college costs, college preparation and early Lake Land College registration.

Participants of this program have the option to earn four credit hours of College Level Credit for the CEO INS-299 class. High schools in Effingham, Cumberland, Shelby and Douglas are currently eligible for CEO dual credit.

Students interested in CEO and Dual Credit should speak to their high school guidance counselor.

Debbie Benefiel to be honored with Lake Land College Distinguished Service Award

Posted on June 17, 2020

Lake Land College will award the 2020 Distinguished Service Award to Debbie Benefiel, longtime member of the Foundation Board of Directors and co-owner and operator with husband Steve of Pearman Pharmacy in Paris, during the virtual Commencement ceremony. The award acknowledges an individual who has rendered outstanding service to the college.

At the June 18 Virtual Commencement Ceremony, Lake Land College will recognize the 2020 Distinguished Service Award Recipient, Debbie Benefiel, longtime member of the Foundation Board of Directors and owner and operator of Pearman Pharmacy in Paris.

Benefiel has served on the Lake Land College Foundation Board of Directors since 1994 and has committed years of personal time and energy to the college, which contributes to the current strength of the foundation. Benefiel served on the scholarship committee for several years and enjoyed seeing nearly a third of the student population receive scholarships, annually totaling nearly $500,000.

For years, Benefiel and her husband, Steve Benefiel, have supported the Lake Land College Foundation with two annual scholarships; The Steve and Debbie Benefiel Annual Scholarship and The Pearman Pharmacy Annual Scholarship.

In 2019, the Benefiels decided to take the first step in making their contributions to the college a permanent investment by moving from an annual scholarship to an endowment: The Steve and Debbie Benefiel Endowed Scholarship.

“It is not unusual for the Benefiels to see an unmet need in the community, especially when someone is pursuing an education, and to meet that need personally,” Benefiel’s nominator, Jackie Joines, said.

Not only does Benefiel focus her volunteer efforts on education, she is also incredibly active in her community. She has served on various boards and committees helping guide the direction and growth of the Presbyterian Church of Paris while currently serving on the board of deacons and serving on the membership and evangelism committee.

Joines expressed her appreciation for Benefiel’s natural commitment to volunteerism within her local community. She has volunteered at the former Paris YMCA, now the Paris REC Center, for more than 26 years. Benefiel is currently a member and trustee of the Paris Recreational Endowment Trust and serves as its treasurer.

She is a charter member of the 100 Women Who Care giving circle that provides $10,000 each quarter to make a difference in Edgar County.

Benefiel and her husband are passionate about the arts and volunteer for related organizations as well. She has served on the board of directors of the Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan as a Region Three Trustee for more than 20 years and is a patron of the Paris Fine Arts Center where Steve Benefiel serves on the advisory board.

Benefiel is also a member of the Horizon Health Foundation of East Central Illinois that supports Horizon Health Hospital and area clinics around Edgar County. In November of 2018, the Benefiels were recognized for their generosity as the recipients of the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award presented by Horizon Health at the Association Fundraising Professionals National Philanthropy Day.

“The lives that Debbie has changed through the gifts and volunteerism is unmet in the Edgar County area. She has strengthened the faith, wellness and culture of the community, and supported numerous youth in making their lives better through education,” Joines said.

Benefiel earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She and her husband live in Paris, Illinois.

Debbie Thomason Receives Lake Land College Full-Time Faculty Award

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Lake Land College Dental Hygiene Instructor/Director of Dental Hygiene Debbie Thomason will receive the Full-Time Faculty Award at Lake Land College’s Virtual Commencement ceremony on June 18. Thomason will be retiring at the end of the summer after 12 years of service to Lake Land College.

At the June 18 Virtual Commencement Ceremony, Lake Land College will recognize the 2020 Full-Time Faculty Award Recipient, Debbie Thomason, instructor/director of dental hygiene.

Vice President for Academic Services Jon Althaus praised Thomason’s positive influence for the students, saying she always motivates them in both the classroom and the clinic to do their best.

“Debbie has been an integral part of the dental hygiene program at Lake Land College for many years,” Althaus said. “She has a true passion for dental hygiene.”

Lake Land College will forward Thomason’s nomination to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for consideration of the ICCTA Full-Time Faculty Award.

The Lake Land College Dental Hygiene program is a regional program attracting students from throughout the state of Illinois. Students in the program advance through a rigorous academic program that prepares them to provide preventative dental care to patients in a clinical setting.

Thomason graduated from the Lake Land College Dental Hygiene program herself in 1977. She then began teaching part-time for the program in1984 and joined the full-time faculty in 2008.

In her time at Lake Land College, Thomason has taught and co-taught a variety of classes in the program as well as being a continuing education presenter on local anesthetics, polish and stain removal, sealants and medical emergencies in the dental office.

Not only has Thomason provided her teaching skills, she was instrumental in building a relationship between Lake Land College’s dental hygiene program and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center’s Dental Hygiene program which provides community dental health opportunities Thomason also helped to form a bond between the dental hygiene program at Lake Land College and the Douglas County Dental Clinic, allowing Lake Land College students to assist the dentist chairside.

Lake Land College students also provide dental cleanings and X-rays to patients in the Dental Hygiene Lab on campus. In September of 2018, Thomason successfully secured a grant from Heartland Dental for the Dental Hygiene Lab, providing the latest equipment available to the industry and helping to prepare students for a seamless transfer to a professional office.

Thomason was also involved in several areas at Lake Land College as a member of the LLCFA social committee, the cheer committee and general education committee.

Being an examiner for The Central Regional Dental Testing Service Inc., Thomason gained valuable insight into the practice competency portion of the board exam. She has been able to pass this knowledge on to the students as well as educating the faculty and clinic staff.

Thomason is also leading the faculty in completing the self-study report for accreditation in the fall. The accreditation allows students to practice in the clinic and be able to take their board examination.

Still another area of Thomason’s work is the renewal and securing of an articulation agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale Dental Hygiene program, which allows students to transfer easily from Lake Land College to SIU-C. Thomason also has active memberships in the American Dental Education Association, the American Dental Hygiene Association and the Illinois Dental Hygiene Association.

Thomason has an exemplary record as an effective instructor and subject matter expert. She practices a “students first” philosophy in each role she fills at Lake Land College. Thomason has been a teacher for more than 36 years and has taught more than one thousand students.

“My teaching philosophy is that teaching a student is much more than delivering information,” Thomason said. “It is caring enough to help them develop the necessary skills to become a successful, caring human being. A teacher needs to help their students develop the tools to thrive, and most of all we need to show them that we care.”

Wesley Wise to receive 2020 Lake Land College Alumnus Achievement Award

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Lake Land College will present Wesley Wise, Bethany, with the 2020 Alumnus Achievement Award. Wise is also nominated to receive the 2020 ICCTA Distinguished Alumnus Award. Wise will be recognized at the college’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 18.

The Lake Land College Board of Trustees annually presents an Alumnus Achievement Award to an individual who has achieved outstanding success in his or her field of endeavor, has gained favorable statewide or national recognition or has performed services proven beneficial to society.

At the June 18 Virtual Commencement Ceremony, Lake Land College will recognize the 2020 Alumnus Achievement Award Recipient, Wesley Wise, longtime leader of the Okaw Valley High School agriculture program.

This year’s recipient, Wesley Wise, received the National Partnership Award from the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2016 and the Emerging Buildings in Education Award from the Illinois Association of School Boards in 2019.

Within his first year of leading the Okaw Valley High School agriculture program, Wise had students working directly with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Shelbyville. High school students were paired with wildlife biologists and forestry experts at the Lake Shelbyville site to work on tasks from simple campground cleanup to general engineering practices. Beginning in March of 2016, students opened one of five campgrounds on Lake Shelbyville.

“What usually takes the USACE two weeks was accomplished in just one day with the help of 30 high school students willing to get dirty,” Okay Valley High School Principal Matthew Shoaff said.

This initiative resulted in more than five thousand volunteer hours and up to $500,000 in in-kind services to the USACE, leading to Wise’s reception of the 2016 National Partnership Award from a 2-star USACE General.

Having received this award, Wise went to his superintendent and school board with an even bigger idea. Based on his background on his family farm as well as time spent on the University of Illinois beef operation, Wise initiated the Okaw Valley Ag Complex. Construction on the complex began in 2018, and when it was complete, students were able to experience many different areas of animal agriculture.

“Mr. Wise wanted us to be the first school in the state of Illinois, and in the Midwest for that matter, to have an actual working livestock and grain farm on school grounds,” Shoaff said. “Almost daily, students are allowed to roll up their sleeves and participate in things that no other student in the state had ever thought of doing in school.”

As part of this program, students were allowed to deliver calves, lambs and pigs in the first few months. The students were also able to care for the animals daily, do ultra-sounding for baby animals, perform artificial insemination and even experience animal harvest for the first animals born at the complex. As a result, Wise, along with Okaw Valley High School, received the 2019 Emerging Buildings in Education Award at the 2019 State School Board Convention.

“Mr. Wise continues to push the envelope in terms of classroom education,” Shoaff said. “I can’t wait to see what he and his students can accomplish in the next 15 years.”

Wise graduated from Lake Land College Cum Laude in 2003 with an associate degree in Agriculture. He then continued his education at the University of Illinois, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education.

Praising Lake Land College for his educational experience, Wise said one of the best aspects of the community college system in general is the one-on-one interaction with instructors and mentors. Coming from a rural community, Wise said Lake Land College gave him the opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals as well as allowing him to develop and grow as a person.

“Lake Land College and a community college education are without question one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Wise said. “I received one of the best, if not the best, educations of my academic career. At Lake Land I wasn’t just another number. All my teachers knew me by name and took a vested interest in my education and well-being. I was important to my educators, division chairman and even administrators. I am proud to say that Lake Land College was definitely the perfect fit for me.”

Lake Land College to host Virtual Summer College for Youth

Posted on June 16, 2020

Summer is right around the corner. Make your child’s summer one to remember with some online educational fun at Lake Land College’s virtual Summer College for Youth program.

Summer College for Youth will be offered via Zoom or FaceBook Live throughout the months of July and August.

The virtual Summer College for Youth is categorized by art, music, photography, theatre, and STEM.

Courses in art include Paint Like the Masters: Van Gogh, and Animal Portraits! Learn to Draw & Paint Animals. Paint Like the Masters: Van Gogh will be offered on July 12, 2020 at 3 p.m. and three step by step 1.5-hour video classes will be available to watch that will be immediately released following the course. Animal Portraits! Learn to Draw & Paint Animals will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning July 7, 2020 with focus on a different animal each week. Both courses are for the ages 8+, and will be held via FaceBook. Students will be able to invite friends and family to view their finished projects in a virtual gallery.

Courses in music include Beginning Ukulele, Beginning Acoustic Guitar, Beginning Electric Guitar, Advanced Techniques in Electric Guitar, Intro to Fingerstyle Guitar, and Music Theory for Guitarists. Each 8-week course will be available via Zoom on Saturdays, July 11, 2020 – August 29, 2020 between noon – 3 p.m. The instructor will contact each registrant to reserve a ½ hour time slot per week of the course.

Courses in photography include Creative Photography and Common Mistakes in Portraiture. Creative Photography will be offered via FaceBook Live on July 20, 2020 from 1 – 1:30 p.m. Common Mistakes in Portraiture will also be offered via FaceBook Live on July 27, 2020 from 1 – 1:30 p.m. Both courses are for ages 13-18. Students will be able to invite friends and family to view their finished projects in a virtual gallery.

Theatre 101 will be offered this summer via Zoom. Classes will be grouped together by age. The six-week session will be from July 27 – Sept. 3, 2020. For ages 8-10, class will be on Mondays from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Ages 11-14 will participate on Thursdays from 5:30 – 7 p.m. For ages 15-18, class will be on Mondays from 7:30 – 9 p.m.

All children are invited to Camp Invention Connect, an online program offered through a partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame. This non-profit organization is dedicated to piquing curiosity and advancing the future of innovation and STEM. Campers will receive at-home kits and program activities are led by experienced, local educators. Participants will be inspired by the world-changing inventors that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Opportunities are available for students entering kindergarten through sixth grade.

Camp Invention Connect will be available on July 13-16, 2020.

To register for the art, music, photography, and theatre courses, visit lakelandcollege.edu/learn and select “Summer College for Youth.” To register for Camp Invention Connect, visit invent.org/connect or call 800-968-4332.

For more information, contact Jackie Wake, professional development support, at 217-234-5087 or jwake@lakelandcollege.edu.


Lake Land College Offers Free Online Alzheimer’s Awareness Webinars

Posted on June 15, 2020

Lake Land College will be offering a series of webinars with topics of Alzheimer’s and Dementia awareness. The webinars will be offered on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m beginning June 16. The series includes:

  • Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body – June 16, 2020
  • Effective Communication Strategies – June 23, 2020
  • 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s – June 30, 2020
  • Understanding Alzheimer’s & Dementia – July 7, 2020

The webinars will be facilitated by Elizabeth Hagemann, MA, Manager of Education and Outreach, with the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter. There is no cost to attend the webinars.

To register, go to www.lakelandcollege.edu/learn click on Health Care under the Professional Development category, and choose which webinar you would like to attend. For more information, contact Jackie Wake, professional development support at 217-234-5087 or email jwake@lakelandcollege.edu.


Potential Lake Land College Students Invited To Virtual Laker Visit Day

Posted on June 10, 2020

Prospective Lake Land College students will have the opportunity to discover all the college offers at the first-ever Virtual Laker Visit Day. The event will be held Tuesday, June 23 from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

Students will be able to connect with representatives from various academic divisions, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life and other student services departments. Attendees will also get the chance to hear from current Lake Land College students.

“Our Virtual Laker Visit Day is a great way for prospective students to interact with faculty and staff about academic options and majors, to talk to current students about their experiences at the college and to learn about various services and opportunities we offer,” Michelle Zumbahlen, coordinator for strategic student communication and initiatives, said.

This is the chance for future Lakers to get a sense of the caring college community, as well as meet faculty, staff and students who are already part of the Laker experience.

For more information, or to register for Laker Visit Day, go to lakelandcollege.edu/visit.

Lake Land College Celebrates Annual Commencement Ceremony

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Lake Land College will honor graduates at the first-ever Virtual Commencement Ceremony Thursday, June 18 at 6 p.m.. A link to the ceremony will be posted on the college’s homepage.

More than 1,168 students will receive degrees and certificates this spring, with about 513 graduates expected to participate in the ceremony.

“On behalf of everyone at Lake Land College, we are very proud to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our Laker Nation Class of 2020,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said.

The virtual ceremony will include many aspects of the traditional commencement ceremony, such as speakers, presentation of awards and the reading of graduates’ names along with a slide featuring a photo and degree.

Shelbie Kile, the 2019-2020 Student Trustee, will give the Student Address.

The ceremony will also be aired on the television channel Your 13 at noon and 7 p.m. June 20 and at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 21.

For more information, visit lakelandcollege.edu.

Lake Land College NSLS Inducts New Members

Posted on June 3, 2020

The National Society for Leadership and Success at Lake Land College welcomed several new members in May. The society offers these students the opportunity to be part of a nationally recognized organization providing access to some of the country’s top leaders.

The Lake Land College chapter of NSLS would like to welcome Abigail Held of Charleston, Alanson Gann of Paris, Alex Carter of Lerna, Alissa Smith of Farina, Amanda Philips of Charleston, Andrea Buell of Charleston, Annika Slabaugh of Arthur, Annika Wood of West Union, Bailey Drummond of Kansas, Blake Schumann of Kampsville, Brianna Ulmer of Greenville, Brittaney Douglas of Mattoon, Courtney Lee of Shelbyville, Creed Hudson of Greenup, Daniel Medel of Greenup, Darrell Phillips III of Charleston, Ella Lanman of Charleston, Emmalee Sherwood of Charleston, Gunnar Scott of Marshall, Hanna Kucharczyk of Champaign, Hannah Doll of Neoga, Heather Kistner of Neoga, Jaycie Schertz of El Paso, Jenna Slaughter of Tuscola, Jessica Webster of Effingham, Julie Stefanski of Beecher City, Kailynn Bobbett of Findlay, Kaitlyn Leonard of Lovington, Kelby Adams of Mattoon, Kirsten Morris of Quincy, IN, Lane Himes of Brownstown, Larry Parke of Charleston, Lauren Obrien of Mattoon, Lexi Luebkemann of Red Bud, Lindzie Douglas of Mattoon, Loren Eaton of Lerna, Macey Heselton of Herrick, Madison Buscher of Effingham, Meliah Hennings of Shelbyville, Miriam Tait of Shelbyville, Olga Hernandez of Effingham, Patrick Lines of Shelbyville, Shelbie Kile of Marshall, Stephanie Bollino of Neoga, Steve Elam of Mattoon and Teri-Rae Long of Paris.

With nearly 500 chapters and more than 525,000 members nationwide NSLS, Sigma Alpha Pi, is the largest collegiate leadership honor society in the U.S. NSLS provides its members access to a five-step leadership program on campus as well as honoring excellence. Members will develop skills within the five-step program to inspire success even after college. As members, students will have access to education and programs from some of the top leaders in America including Rudy Giuliani, Arianna Huffington, Common, Carly Fiorina, and several others. Scholarship and other awards are also available to these members.

To be nominated for the society, students must have a GPA of at least 2.75, be involved in at least one campus activity and have completed at least 15 credit hours. Upon accepting the nomination and paying one-time membership dues, students must complete an orientation day, attend leadership training day and view three video presentations that consist of success networking team meetings and speaker broadcasts. Upon completing these tasks, students will be officially inducted. For more information visit www.societyleadership.org.