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APLU honors Uilk for teaching excellence

Nic Uilk, 2020 APLU award recipient
Nicholas Uilk, an instructor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, received an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities national teaching award for excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement.

Nic Uilk, 2020 APLU award recipient
Nicholas Uilk

Nicholas Uilk, an instructor in South Dakota State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, has been named a recipient of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities national teaching awards in recognizing excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement. The awards were presented as part of the 133rd APLU annual meeting, which was held virtually Wednesday.

Uilk ’08/M.S. ’11 is one of two recipients in the Teaching and Student Engagement category. The award is in recognition of his use of innovative teaching methods and service to students. Wyatt Hoback of Oklahoma State University was the other recipient.

“We applaud this year’s winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences,” said Doug Steele, vice president of food, agriculture and natural resources at APLU. “The high bar they’ve set stands as a powerful example not only to their students, but to other faculty striving to better serve their students.”

Uilk teaches a range of classes within many programs including agricultural systems technology and precision agriculture. He stresses hands-on experiences for his students and strives to provide these experiences to support lecture material throughout all his courses. One example of hands-on teaching was adding a mobile lab experience, allowing his students to get multiple hours of direct exposure to the technology being used on modern farm equipment today.

“It’s an extreme honor to receive this award. I’m extremely thankful for being nominated by SDSU and for the many opportunities it has provided me,” said Uilk, who started working at SDSU in January 2009.

Early in his teaching career, Uilk saw an industry demand for graduates with a background in precision agriculture and worked to fill that void by creating a program that taught students the value precision practices can bring to production agriculture. He has engaged in professional development experiences to improve his teaching and has collaborated with faculty to assist them as well. He was a recipient of the 2013 Walt McCarty Advisor of the Year award and a 2015 recipient of the Gamma Sigma Delta Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Nic makes learning exciting and enjoyable for his students. He uses high-impact teaching practices and relates very well to his students. Nic can demonstrate the practical application of the knowledge his students are gaining. We and our students are very fortunate to have Nic Uilk as an instructor in our precision agriculture program. I am so proud of Nic’s achievement and the positive impact he has on the lives and careers of our current and former students,” said John Killefer, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at SDSU.

About the APLU
APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 246 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.3 billion in university-based research.