Sarah Helmers has always been impressed with Rend Lake College graduates, and in her new position as RLC’s Applied Science Division Chair, she can witness first-hand how these students become successful.
Helmers assumed her duties on May 17. The Steeleville native holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness Economics and a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Education and Mechanization, and is working on a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Workforce Education and Development, all through Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
In addition to achieving her degrees at SIUC, Helmers also held several positions there. She served as interim Assistant Dean for External Affairs and later became a teaching assistant with the College of Agricultural Services.
Helmers then moved to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, where she worked as an office manager in the Investigations Division and later as an administrator. She said she has always had an interest in criminal justice, but agriculture is her passion.
"I wanted to go back to my roots," Helmers said. Subsequently, she returned to SIUC in 2001 to the College of Agricultural Sciences as Extern Coordinator and Enrollment Management Coordinator.
"I was always compelled to be involved in the agriculture industry," Helmers said, adding that she has been involved with agriculture all of her life. She received scholarship assistance with her college education due to her service as a state Future Farmers of America officer.
"In working with Rend Lake College graduates at SIUC, I was always impressed with their educational backgrounds," Helmers said. "The students were always very positive, and my dealings with the faculty were always positive."
When she learned of the Applied Science Division Chair position opening at RLC, "I knew it was the right place to be. It just seemed to fit with my goals," Helmers said. She said it was not necessarily an easy decision, but she knew it was the right one.
Helmers said she is in the process of setting goals for the division. She said she wants to get acquainted with the current programs and enhance them, and would support the addition of new programs if they are needed and there is a student base to fill them.
"The administration has been incredibly supportive of my induction, helping me learn. Plus, they actively support the division, which helps tremendously," Helmers said.
"Ultimately, my philosophy is to find out what is in the best interest of the college and what is in the best interest of our students. That’s what I’ll lead by," she said.
The Applied Science Division includes Agriculture and Horticulture, Automotive Technology, Architecture and Computer-Aided Drafting, Corrections, Criminal Justice, Diesel Technology, Graphic Design, Heavy Equipment Technology and Surveying Technology.