Scholarly excellence, good citizenship, and demonstrated leadership attributes represent precious commodities in contemporary society, especially when combined with the energy and initiative of youth. Today, the great complexity and rapidly changing character of world society underline the importance of developing sound leadership for the future. Particularly in the crucial areas of food production, marketing, nutrition, and related human services, the demand for new knowledge and expertise is very great.
To recognize and foster these desirable attributes among high school graduates, the University of Illinois College of ACES established the Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) Scholarship Program in 1979. Awarded solely on the basis of leadership, good citizenship, and scholarly achievement, these merit-based scholarships are open to outstanding individuals enrolling in the diversity of programs offered within the College of ACES. The JBT program is funded by private donations to ACES.
In 1978, Dean Emeritus John Campbell (then Associate Dean for Resident Instruction) perceived a need to continue attracting quality students to the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois. He envisioned a merit-based scholarship program for highly-qualified applicants who had a sincere interest in one of the academic programs offered by the College, and who had demonstrated leadership abilities, sound character, and good citizenship. He expressed his hopes during a meeting of College alumni, and as the story goes, talked late into the night one evening at Starved Rock State Park with Jack and Anita Rundquist, successful livestock producers from Montgomery County, both of whom were University of Illinois alumni. The Rundquists shared Dean Campbell’s vision and made one of the landmark gifts that helped establish the scholarship program. Dean Campbell also reached out to other alumni and friends across the nation. One memorable visit was in California with Mrs. Maydee Lehman, daughter of Louis V. Logeman, a 1907 graduate of the College. Inspired by Dr. Campbell’s passionate vision, Mrs. Lehman became one of the charter donors in the program, providing her farm to support student scholarships and related programs. Because of his instrumental role in conceptualizing the land-grant university system, Jonathan Baldwin Turner was selected as the namesake for the new program. Ties to Turner were strengthened through the family history of Anita Rundquist, who is a great-granddaughter of Jonathan Baldwin Turner.
Jonathan Baldwin Turner, a pioneer of agricultural education in Illinois and the United States, epitomized the spirit and intent of the scholarships bearing his name. A noted farmer and lecturer associated with Illinois College during the mid-1800s, Turner envisioned a nationwide system of educational institutions providing a “liberal and practical education” for citizens in the areas of agriculture and the mechanical arts. Turner’s dedication and leadership were influential in the passage of the Morrill Act, signed by President Lincoln in 1862. This law established a framework for the land-grant system of agricultural institutions throughout the United States. A further outgrowth of Turner’s efforts was the Illinois Industrial University, later to become the internationally recognized University of Illinois.