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Justin Rickard named as Distinguished Alumni

April 20, 2021

The Heartland Community College Alumni Association has honored Dr. Justin Rickard as the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni award. 

The award recognizes notable Heartland alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their profession and make a positive impact on their community. Awardees are selected from nominations by fellow Heartland alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members. 

Dr. Justin Rickard is an Associate Professor of Animal Science with a teaching and research appointment at Illinois State University. He teaches a variety of animal science and food industry courses. His research program focuses on improving the livestock production and food animal industries. In addition to teaching and research, he advises undergraduate and graduate students and does a variety of outreach activities with livestock producers and 4H and FFA programs. 

Rickard’s academic career started at Heartland Community College which prepared him to transfer to the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University. There he earned a B.S. degree in Animal Industry Management and M.S. degree in Agriculture Sciences. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia where he earned a Ph.D. in Animal Science with an emphasis in Fresh Meat Science. 

Rickard was nominated by Heartland Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Social Work Doug Dowell. 

“We don’t always know where our start will be or where our path will take us. I first met Justin when I had him in an Introduction to Sociology course. He just wanted to farm but found an unexpected fit at Heartland Community College, with caring people who made learning fun,” said Dowell. “Now he is a tenured professor at Illinois State University, teaching others that learning can be fun. He is also conducting and publishing research on such topics as growth performance, meat quality, and grain production. A quick look at Justin’s vitae shows he is not short on accomplishments.” 

Dr. Rickard will be recognized during the College’s commencement ceremony to be held virtually on May 14, 2021.

Written by: Steve Fast