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ICC Names Sean Arians as 2021 Distinguished Alumnus & Brent Baker as 2021 Alumnus of the Last Decade

Illinois Central College presented Sean Arians with the Distinguished Alumnus Award and Brent Baker with the Alumnus of the Last Decade Award on Thursday, October 28. The presentation was part of the college’s virtual Community Celebration event, held annually to recognize and celebrate ICC scholarship recipients, their donors, and community partners.    

“The Distinguished Alumnus and the Alumnus of the Last Decade awards annually recognize ICC alumni who have achieved outstanding success in their chosen field. It also recognizes their humanitarian service and demonstrated support for higher education and Illinois Central College,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “Mr. Arians and Mr. Baker are incredibly deserving of their awards. They are helping make our community and region a better place, and we could not be prouder to call them ICC alumni.” 

Arians attended Illinois Central College from 2000 to 2002. In May 2002, he received his Associate in Applied Science Degree in Agricultural Business Management. He has excelled in his profession and taken advantage of countless opportunities to promote agricultural education and the field of agriculture. Sean was a member of the ICC Agricultural Advisory Council from 2014 to 2016 and served as Chairman of the committee in 2016. His expertise in precision agricultural technology led him to spearhead a redesign of the ICC Agricultural Applied Science curriculum. 

“I would like to thank Illinois Central College and those who nominated me for this recognition. My career started because of the firm foundation built at ICC. As I look back at the experiences and the hands-on learning, I know those opportunities helped create the success that led me to be nominated for this alumnus recognition,” said Arians.  

In 2015, Sean was the keynote speaker at the Illinois Association of Community College Agriculture Instructors annual conference. He addressed the challenges and opportunities that exist for agriculture students in Illinois. Sean was also the keynote speaker at the 2017 Illinois FFA Alumni Association annual meeting and the 2019 ICC Career Showcase. He spoke about non-traditional careers and opportunities available within the agriculture, horticulture, and diesel-powered industries.  

Sean combines his experience and passion for agriculture with his innovative and entrepreneurial spirit as founder of GrainCoat LLC. In addition, he is currently employed as Regional Business Director and a member of the Executive Leadership Team at Advanced Agrilytics. 

Baker attended Illinois Central College from 2008 to 2011. He received an Associate in Arts and Science Degree in July 2011. For a number of years, Brent served as the Director of Workforce Solutions for the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council (GPEDC). He oversaw the incredibly important work of connecting the region’s workforce development institutions with employers. 

A ready workforce initiative he spearheaded created paid internships with over two dozen area employers for Peoria high school students. The Pathways program is now a best practice shared with school districts across the nation. In addition to his Pathways work, Brent coordinated the annual Career Spark event jointly organized with Junior Achievement of Central Illinois. This interactive, multi-industry career expo annually hosts over 4,000 eighth-grade students from more than 60 schools and has been listed as a best practice by the Illinois Board of Education. 

Brent currently works with Natural Fiber Welding. NFW is an innovative, rapidly growing company, and leaders like Brent will make the company all the more successful. His job working with Mirum, a vegan and plastic-free leather substitute, is at the forefront of sustainability and the green economy. 

Brent said, “Here at NFW, we strive to answer really hard questions and move the company forward. We can only do that with people who are open and willing and have the skills to solve problems and think critically. An institution like ICC, providing open doors for people to learn those skills, is incredible so we can have the talent we need to move this whole region forward.” 

For more information on the alumni awards, visit icc.edu/alumni. Additional information on Community Celebration is available at icc.edu/communitycelebration.