Dr. Charlotte Talkington ’61 is a loyal university supporter. She retired in 1994 after more than 30 years as faculty in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). Talkington solidified her support for the department in 2001 by establishing the Charlotte E. Talkington Professional Development Fund in Family and Consumer Sciences.

Attending conferences as a professor of home economics provided some of Talkington’s fondest memories. “It was fun to learn, reconnect with colleagues, and to talk shop. When returning back to campus, I felt that my batteries had been recharged, and I felt more confident in my teaching,” said Talkington. “When I retired, I established the Professional Development Fund for FCS to pass along the rewards I received to the next generation.” 

Sally Arnett-Hartwick

The fund is a welcomed resource for Professor Sally Arnett-Hartwick ’97 and Instructional Assistant Professor Amy Ponce ’03, who were able to attend an annual statewide conference sponsored by the Illinois Association of Career and Technical Education (IACTE). Though virtual, this year’s conference offered professional networking opportunities and cutting-edge pedagogical techniques for current and future instructors. 

Eliminating students’ registration fees was especially important in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Thanks to the fund, the 21 students who attended alongside Arnett-Hartwick and Ponce were able to attend the conference free of charge.

“The IACTE conference addresses all five areas of career and technical education, including family and consumer sciences, agriculture, technology education, business, and health sciences,” said Arnett-Hartwick. “Within each of those areas, students have the opportunity to strengthen their content knowledge and become prepared for the teacher workforce.”

Attendees learned helpful techniques, including new ways to teach culinary arts while physical distancing. “Each year, we learn how to strengthen our pedagogy because presenters who are excellent teachers in their field bring ideas into the sessions,” said Ponce.

Networking at the IACTE conference is especially beneficial for Illinois State students, who are in high demand across the state. The Family and Consumer Sciences program is the largest in Illinois, and one of the larger producers of family and consumer sciences teachers nationwide.

“There’s a recruitment aspect of the conference. Our students are being recruited for jobs, and we’re recruiting future collaborating partners for the program,” said Ponce, who encouraged students to make connections, even over Zoom.

“One of the main reasons why I require students to attend is to get into professional organizations early on,” said Arnett-Hartwick. Some students go on to assume leadership roles within the organizations.

“We are so grateful to Charlotte for providing opportunities for lifelong learning. College is a financial investment, so we appreciate being able to offset costs for students,” said Arnett-Hartwick.

“Charlotte is a part of so many scholarships and is very involved in the community,” Ponce said. “That’s who she is—she just gives back.”