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Gene Schwarm
I was lucky to have been able to develop personal relationships with outstanding, successful faculty and administrators in the College of Agriculture. Their modeling of excellence in their work and their encouragement and nurturing have really been important to me.

Profile: Chief Judge Gene Schwarm

Alumni
Chief Circuit Judge

Chief Judge Gene Schwarm of the Illinois 4th Judicial Court credits his University of Illinois education with helping him achieve success in his career while opening the door to valuable lifelong relationships.

After growing up on a cattle farm in Loogootee, Illinois, Schwarm says, it was a natural fit to come to the U of I College of Agriculture to study agricultural science.

As an undergraduate, Schwarm was a member and president of the Ag Council and belonged to Ag Econ Club, Hoof and Horn Club, Debate Club, and Mortar Board. He was also president, vice-president, and social chairman of Nabor House. Through his role in Ag Council, Schwarm got the benefits of networking with many influential leaders, including Karl Gardner and Warren Wessels and college dean John Campbell.

Working with Dr. Robert Spitze on a special research and writing seminar on the Farm Bill, Schwarm discovered an interest in ag policy. As an agriculture science major, he was able to take several ag economics and ag policy classes while having the flexibility to take animal science courses as well.
 
“I was lucky to have been able to develop personal relationships with outstanding, successful faculty and administrators in the College of Agriculture,” Schwarm says. “Their modeling of excellence in their work and their encouragement and nurturing have really been important to me.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Schwarm also credits skills he learned participating in extracurricular activities in the college.

“It may sound crazy, but some of the skills I developed on the judging teams I still use on the bench today as a judge,” he says. “On a judging team, you review and evaluate, then you make decisions, organize your thoughts, develop reasons for those decisions, and communicate those reasons, either in writing or orally. That's kind of what I'm doing these days—except under less rigid time constraints!”

Schwarm’s participation on both the meats and livestock judging teams kept him busy during his college years. He began friendships that continue today with coaches Tom Carr and Doug Parrett, who were excellent models for how to perform in competition.

Of all the things Schwarm took away from his U of I experience, the relationships are at the top of his list. He says, “Not only are there strong academics at the University of Illinois, but there are really outstanding, quality people, too.”