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University of Illinois
University of Illinois Quad

Champaign County, Illinois Experience Agriculture, Technology & Art

Compiled by Mike Keenan

In Chicago's countryside, discover Champaign County, a thriving micro-urban oasis supported by local agriculture, technology and research as the home to the University of Illinois. Groups will enjoy learning about the latest in farming techniques and research while tasting the bounty of the harvest. Discover incredible technological advances at leading companies and start maker spaces juxtaposed with a vibrant arts and culture scene that makes Champaign County an ideal destination.

Blue Waters    High Tech Farming Photo Credit Visit Champaign County    Krannert Art Museum    National Soybean Research Laboratory

Suggested Itinerary:
Day 1: Agriculture
Immerse your group in Champaign County's lush agriculture. With the richest soil in the world, and over 577,000 acres of farmland, Champaign County leads the way in farming and agriculture research. Visit with our large-scale farms or our small local producers. Discover the latest in research at the National Soybean Research Laboratory. Learn from the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Witness the power of hi-tech farming with local farmers. Finally, taste the bounty at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Illinois' first homestead goat's milk creamery. Or dine out in Downtown Champaign, home to several farm-to-table restaurants.

Day 2: Technology
With the University of Illinois as the foundation of Champaign County, technological innovations like the first web browserAs an Illinois student, Marc Andreessen landed a job as a student-programmer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. There he teamed with staff member Eric Bina, and together they created the prototype for Mosaic, the first browser for the World Wide Web, in 1993. Mosaic was credited with enabling the Web to gain widespread popularity. It was called the first 'killer application.' Soon after graduating from Illinois, Andreessen met Jim Clark from Silicon Graphics who was interested in starting a new company. Andreessen, Clark, and Bina founded Netscape in 1994. For several years, it was the dominant web browser. , the omnipresent LED, plasma displays and the MRI can come out of Champaign County. Explore the rapidly growing technology industry at Research Park, home to Yahoo!, John Deere Robotics and Caterpillar Research. Visit with the National Petascale Computing Facility, home to Blue Waters, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world or learn how stunning 3D visualizations help scientist interpret information. Design and innovate on your own at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, a small-scale workshop for computer-based innovation, design and fabrications.

Day 3: Arts & Culture
You don't have to visit a metropolis to discover a thriving art scene. Champaign County is home to the second largest fine art museum in Illinois-Krannert Art Museum, with over 10,000 pieces on display. Simply stroll city streets to discover over 30 public art sculptures, with many located right in the Downtown district where you can sip on local coffee while exploring. Head to Allerton Park & Retreat Center to visit their formal gardens showcasing nearly a dozen sculptures enhancing the stunning landscape. Beyond visual art, learn from our cultural arts at the Japan House at the University of Illinois where you will discover the art in traditional tea ceremonies. Or catch a tour at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the leading performing arts center on a college campus in the country.

Champaign County-Outside of Ordinary

Mike Keenan writes for Postmedia Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune, Niagara Falls Review and Seniors Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.

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