The Parkland College Blog

Board of Trustees Announce Filings for Board Positions

Parkland Board of Trustees Announce Filings for Positions

Parkland College officials announced today that five candidates have filed to run for positions on the Parkland College Board of Trustees.

Maureen Banks, Jarrett Clem, Bradley Uken, and James Voyles have filed for the two six-year trustee terms that are expiring next April. Voyles is an incumbent trustee who has served on the board since 2015. Banks serves as Director of Safety and Compliance at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Clem is the Business Manager at IBEW Local 601 in Champaign. Uken is the Manager at the Champaign County Farm Bureau.

Timothy V. (Tim) Johnson, also an incumbent, has filed for the two-year term expiring in April. Johnson has served on the board since 2015.

The two six-year terms will run through April 2027, while the two-year term will run through April 2023.The election will be held April 6, 2021.

New Apprenticeship Program Seeks to Fill Employment Gap

New Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program at Parkland


   A new apprenticeship program taking place at Parkland College is looking for more students to train as surveyor and mapping technicians to fill a growing job demand.   

Developed in partnership with the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA), the first-in-the-nation Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. These technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines.

Once admitted to the program, apprentices begin a 90-day, no fault probationary period in which the apprentice or the employer can terminate participation without repercussion.

Training consists of on-the-job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician (CST) Level I or Level II exam in order to complete the program.

During the program, apprentices are paid a minimum of $15 per hour. Upon successful completion, the apprentice is guaranteed employment and a minimum salary of $17 per hour. Program graduates also have the option to continue their education and become fully licensed surveyors. All instruction provided by Parkland College may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree.

Employers who participate in the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program are required to pay for the education-related expenses. Employers are eligible to receive tax credits for their expenses through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) new Apprenticeship Education Expense Tax Credit Program. Employers must apply to DCEO to be eligible to take part in the tax credit program, which is currently capped at $5 million annually.

The inaugural class started at the end of August. IPLSA is currently taking applications for next year’s class, set to start at the end of August, according to IPLSA Executive Director Kim Robinson.

“It’s really exciting to see this come to fruition,” Robinson said. “This is something that we have been working on for two years now. We’ve heard from our members that they are facing serious workforce shortages. This program is designed to fill that void. Other states have heard about what we’re doing and now they’re looking into starting their own apprenticeship programs.”

“The apprenticeship program is off to a great start,” said Jeff Rohde, a surveyor at Willett Hofmann & Associates. “This program will give employees the knowledge they need to get up to speed faster.” Willett Hofmann Apprentice Travis Keller agrees. “The apprenticeship program has been a huge benefit for me. Our instructor does a very nice job helping us work through problems and is always available to provide guidance on anything that’s confusing."

The growing national shortage of both surveyors and technicians is expected to continue. The surveying profession is confronting a wave of retirements in the coming years, and both new surveyors and technicians will be needed to keep pace with demand.

Potential apprentices can upload their resume for free by visiting the apprenticeship page on IPLSA’s website. Employers can upload job postings for apprentices there as well.

IPLSA is a not-for-profit organization representing the interests of the surveying profession in Illinois. Their mission includes the advancement of the land surveying profession by promoting high standards of practice and conduct, by upholding the Illinois Land Surveyors Act and by supporting and encouraging members through continuing education, professional association, and the use of current technology.

To learn more about the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program, please visit IPLSA's website at, or email


Parkland College to Close for Winter Break

Winter Break observed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3

Parkland College will be closed December 24 to January 3 for winter break. Campus offices will reopen January 4 and will continue helping new and returning students register for the Spring 2021 semester, which begins Monday, January 11. 

From January 4 to the start of the semester, Student Services offices will be open during limited hours on campus due to the pandemic. To inquire about availability, students can use the Department Office Directory to visit the individual office's web page, or call the College's main line at 217/351-2200.

Parkland College will offer a virtual Spring 2021 Enrollment Blitz, where students can receive one-stop help with enrolling in spring courses, applying for financial aid, and more, on December 8, 9, 15, and 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Zoom. More dates and information about the event can be found on the College's Facebook event page

Current Parkland College students may continue registering for Spring 2021 classes at This online registration is available through Sunday, January 10.


New students can visit to apply for admission to the college and can view available Spring 2021 courses at For additional assistance, contact the Admissions office at 217/351-2482 or 

Armed with seed money from Parkland College to start his own business, Eliot Graham plans to turn your condo into a cozy haven.

And while Parkland's 2020 Student Entrepreneur of the Year appreciates this new opportunity to grow plants for what will soon be The Wood Violet LLC, it has been his own growth this fall through the school’s CobraVenture Program that he considers far more valuable.

"Winning was truly secondary to all the knowledge gained over the last few months," Graham said about Parkland's second-ever student startup cohort. "The greatest part of CobraVenture was that everyone that came in wanted to see us succeed. This community is focused on ensuring success of small businesses, and that was not only reassuring, but very heartwarming."

Parkland College held its 2020 CobraVenture Pitch Showcase on Nov. 16, which took place virtually for audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic (judges and competitors were masked and socially distanced in the Student Union.) Having competed with six other Parkland students in his cohort during the event, Graham will soon receive the event’s top prize: $3,000 in seed money and $1,000 in monetary technology to start The Wood Violet.

Through the Wood Violet, Champaign resident Graham plans to bring the power of plants and plant-products to small-space areas, such as apartments and condos. His pitch centered on the reality that the home is transforming in the age of the pandemic, "serving as both residences, office spaces, classrooms, and staycation destinations." His new mobile gardening units will turn these spaces into what he calls "livable, comfortable, and functional sanctuaries."

Graham plans to graduate with his associate's degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design before continuing on to earn a bachelor's in business administration. He plans to use the prize money to establish The Wood Violet as a limited liability company, lease a small plot of land, and have his business up and running by spring 2022.

Judges for the pitch competition were Daniel Marker, President of Hickory Point Bank; Carly McCrory, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland's Fine and Applied Arts department; and Marissa Siero, Corporate Engagement and Programs Manager at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business.

The pitch contest highlighted students from the CobraVenture program's student accelerator lab, which launched in January 2020. The semester-long CobraVenture accelerator provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. It features a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors. "Without a doubt, I enjoyed every presenter that came in and lectured," Graham said. "They provided thoughtful and in-depth detail of what would be our next or future steps for our businesses. That time and those talks proved to be invaluable."

While he waits to open his own business, Graham seems happy to promote those of his CobraVenture competitors. "I would encourage you to patronize the runner-up, Pawly's Pet Grooming in Mahomet!" he said. "Polly is a terrific person, and I am happy to have gone through CobraVenture with her. I have no doubt that you and your pet will be happy with her services."

CobraVenture is funded through existing funds from the Parkland Foundation Entrepreneurial Founders Program, Murray Wise Associates PEN Program, and those raised through its annual Entrepreneur of the Year event. Parkland Community Education, the college's noncredit arm, is helping to plan and administer the workshops. The program is operating with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Parkland College faculty and staff, spearheaded by Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs.

Kaler Science Lecture Puts Bacterial Viruses Under Microscope

Staerkel Planetarium to host microbiologist Dr. Asma Hatoum-Aslan

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will host a presentation on microbiology for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 4.
Dr. Asma Hatoum-Aslan, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at UIUC, will give a talk titled, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Enlisting bacterial viruses to combat drug-resistant infections". The lecture is available to the public for free through Zoom.
The rising tide of drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, coupled with the sharp decline in the discovery of new antibiotics, underscores a pressing need to find alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Bacterial viruses, also known as phages, are major causes of bacterial mortality in nature, and can be harnessed as powerful weapons to combat pathogenic bacteria. Dr. Hatoum-Aslan's talk will highlight the ongoing efforts to discover and characterize new phages that are lethal to Staphylococcus bacteria, and the immune systems that these bacteria use to fight back. These efforts are adding to the arsenal of alternative antimicrobials with potential for therapeutic use.
Dr. Hatoum-Aslan earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, her M.S. in Biochemistry from the American University of Beirut, and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cornell University. Before joining the University of Illinois in August, she completed her postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University, where she investigated mechanisms of the bacterial immune system called CRISPR-Cas. Her research program investigates CRISPR-Cas and other immune systems that bacteria use to defend against their viruses (phages). Synergistically, knowledge gained from bacterial immune systems is applied to discover and engineer new phages as a basis for novel antimicrobials. Her work is currently supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award and a PATH award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
The Staerkel Planetarium is presenting programs virtually to the public, to schools, and to private groups. Public shows are rebroadcast on the planetarium's YouTube page. The planetarium staff will present a special edition of Fall Prairie Skies on the same Zoom meeting after the conclusion of the Kaler lecture at 8 p.m. This show is an interactive tour of the night sky, including a focus on the closest conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky in almost 400 years. For a full show schedule and for links to the Zoom meetings, visit the planetarium website or email