Don Chambers

Don Chambers
Don Chambers
Project Associate

Don Chambers has been a lifelong resident of east central Illinois. He was raised on the family sesquicentennial corn and soybean farm in rural Atwood, where he continued to work part-time with his father until 2023. His background in agriculture led to laboratory and field research positions with the United States Department of Agriculture, the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Department, and the Illinois Crop Improvement Association. Don is the author of Recipes from the Soybean Farm, which features recipes gathered in collaboration with various state soybean associations. Numerous Academy Award, Grammy Award, and Nobel Prize Award winners along with Olympic athletes and talented individuals from many other fields posed with soybeans for featured photographs, adding an intriguing, and often humorous, slant to the book. Don is also the author of the book Cameo Bags the Bee Balm: The Role of Humor and Technology in Educational Studies and Public Perceptions of Tallgrass Prairie Fires.

Don’s photographs, graphics, and animations have been featured in nearly two dozen television documentaries which have aired nationally on PBS and the Big Ten Network. His work for Gold Star Mothers: Pilgrimage of Remembrance was nominated for a regional Emmy Award. Don is a professional member of the National Cartoonist Society. His comic strip, Mannequins, has been published continuously in The County Chronicle since its creation in 1996. The comic was the first in history to feature 3D characters utilizing photographic backgrounds. The comic has been reprinted in numerous book collections. The first book, Mannequins at Home in Illinois and Western Indiana, features an introduction by Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman. The second collection, Mannequins Rocks Southern England and the Midwestern United States, features an introduction by Beetle Bailey cartoonist Mort Walker. Other collections include A Pig Named Wedge and Mannequins Comic Strip. Don is also the holder of four United States patents which have been utilized by artists and companies in the greeting card industry. He wrote and illustrated three of those successful patents without the aid of professional attorney assistance. Don has a strong interest in art, architecture, and history. He was the curator of the exhibit Reflections on Rural Life, an agricultural art and history exhibit which was on display in the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois and in the Douglas County Museum in Tuscola, Illinois. Don was also the client and graduate student advisor for Round Barns Projected, a design exploration studio for the renovation of the historic round barns on the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois.

Don enjoys advising and collaborating with start-up blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. In 2022, he took part in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corp program to explore creative ways to introduce cryptocurrency purchasing and storage options to the general public.

In his work for NCPRE, Don utilizes the knowledge gained from his numerous past and present work responsibilities to create a different perspective to view challenging issues. By connecting points and pieces from the analog and digital world, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each and running them through a filter of needs, desires, and history, he is able to see patterns and possible solutions which often escape professionals with less diverse experiences.

In his spare time, Don enjoys creating wonderful memories with his family, best friends, and his dog. Driving and tinkering with his antique, sports, and muscle automobiles also helps to keep his mind in a happy place!