Sunday, July 5, 2015

History, Time, and Creating a Future.

To put it short I have a long list of hobbies. They range from reading to video games to hiking. I think this all comes down to my biggest hobby; Exploring. I would rather spend my money going somewhere new and feeling what others have felt, to hear what they heard and to see what they saw. If professional world traveller was a position I would take it, but realistically it isn't and I don't have the money to sustain travelling forever. To make up for it I found different mediums to explore through and history is the biggest. I pick up a different book anand it allows me to jumbp into a different world and explore different ideas.

I see history as the study of time. Sure it might be different locations in time, but lets be real, what is better than reading the accounts that happened and were amazing. History is wierd though  because people generally see it as only the past, but it isn', all time iss going to be history, so we should see the world as we want it and send it in that direction the best that we can. Time is completely interactive. I think that is why, I am a part of the LAKES project; I need to do something to change the historical future.

All of my research up to this point has been in some way about changing the future and people relationship to the world and others in its future. My previous research was an exploratory study on how university students recognize structures of violence. The idea was that I would eventually find out about students understandings and find a way to educate them. The research needs to be continued even at this point because it doesn't have the implementation that I want for it to be impactful to the future.

Overall, I would say that my hobbies impact the way that I research, because I always want to see a different future by the time I am done with the research, I am doing. My hobbies are about exploring and history is how I often access exploration. It takes me to worlds of truth and time that I can research to work towards a different future.

Farmers: What do they Need?

Meta-cognition was the topic for discussion in the week two blog posts, but I totally zoned out writing up a post, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about the topic through my day to day experiences in the LAKES program.

My research project for this summer is to survey farmers and make a social network graph based off of the information that we get back from the survey, but to be honest, I have no clue what that entails at this point. Right now I am learning that farmers are very busy people and aren’t always around to take a survey. Sometimes they are willing, but they are too tired from another hard day’s work and only a little to take from it. I think that we are going to learn from the farmers that they need help to implement a lot of the best management practices that we are surveying them on, so I hope we are all up to the task, because this isn’t there job alone. If these people are putting vegetables on our tables, gas in our cars, and meat and dairy in our bellies, the least we can do is help them implement these best management practices. What I want to learn more about this summer is what help these farmers want or need to implement these practices efficiently and effectively. The way that I see it currently, is that we are asking these farmers to provide for us then we tell them how they should do it. My biggest hope is to capture this in my research to get farmers and willing volunteers on board to help them.

I plan to do this first by creating a social network graph for the farmers with the data that I receive back from the surveys. First of all, we need to know what the farmer needs to implement these practices. I think we will gather from our incentives section and landowner assistance sections of the surveys what they need and who they need it from. Then I can ask for some interdisciplinary help and see if other surveys captured public’s willingness to help the farmers in the way they need it to fix OUR watershed.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Perspective is Everything

Culture. If there is anything I am passionate about it is culture. It is exciting to learn about someone else's beliefs, values, and behaviors. I love studying and the similarities and differences among cultural background.  Learning about new cultures has given me the opportunity to appreciate diversity, but has also giving me the chance to appreciate my own culture. This overlaps into my research because I am able to appreciate someone else's values and ideas. I am interested in human behaviors and how people see the world. Sociology involves studying individuals, groups, societies. If you are able to comprehend their values and beliefs then you will be better able to understand their behaviors and what motivates them. Learning and understanding the behaviors of people is important when going around trying to get insight on how people feel about best management practices and cleaning up the lake.

This picture is from my first fish fry, which is a cultural activity that goes on every Friday in Wisconsin.

Week 3: Passion and Perspective

I'm very fortunate in that this summer's research is something that excites me, something that I'm passionate about, and something that's important. Passionate about phosphorus? Really? Passionate about surface runoff, base flow, and algal blooms? Is that a thing?
Really though, I am passionate about the environment and the people that interact with it everyday. The research I am doing in a well-equipped lab at a university in a small town in Wisconsin is such a small facet of the environment, that could have such huge impacts. That's what excites me.
Beyond having a love for the outdoors (though only a healthy respect for some of the creepy crawlies within it), I also love reading, movies, time with friends and family, and a nice mug of tea. Before coming to Stout, or going to Gustavus Adolphus, or even graduating high school, one of the first jobs I had, which I still love, was being a nanny. I had the privilege of being a nanny to a few families in my neighborhood and babysitting for family friends. I love working with kids. Whether my first job as a nanny, or Vacation Bible School counselor, to my position last summer as a Ministry Outreach Coordinator among Minneapolis youth, I have loved working with kids AND the environment. For the neighbor kids, we went to the park on nature hikes, with VBS students we planted seeds for students to take home and start their own gardens, for my Minneapolis students we planted and maintained urban farms and community gardens.
I am proudly an environmental studies major, within this major I am a social science concentration. I am passionate about the connections between humans and their natural environment. Mostly I am passionate in preserving, protecting, and enhancing the environment and this world so the kids that inspire me get to have the same appreciation and experience as they grow up. Working in a lab in Jarvis Hall of Science in a little town in Wisconsin surrounded by polluted water may seem small and specific, and the factors we are researching may seem strange or even hopeless to some. But, I am excited. I am hopeful. I am blessed to be working with this great group of young people who are just as passionate about this important work and its impacts on the environment.
Students watering a community garden in Minneapolis, MN

Neighbor kids enjoying the lush grass and privacy of the pine trees playing some badminton 
VBS students from Brooklyn, NY enjoying a rainy day in the park

How Living In Suburbia Helped Me Discover My Passion

Chris Ferguson's Picture of me doing what I love doing (and posing)!!!

When I was 12, my mother and I moved into a nice 4-bedroom house in a quiet suburbia located in Virginia. My mom's dream of owning a house had come true. This was a vast improvement from the two bedroom apartment my mother, my three older siblings and I shared while I we lived in New York City. My siblings were at different points in their lives and did not move with us. Even at that age, I was aware that this opportunity was a chance to start a new life, a life like the tweens on disney channel who lived in the suburbs and seemingly had vibrant lives. What I didn't anticipate was how lonely our new home in the suburbs would be.

The drastic change in setting tortured me.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Growing up in Southern California, I have had the privilege of only being an hour away from Los Angeles, beaches, mountains and more. Throughout high school and college my free time (and paychecks) have been spent in Los Angeles or on the warm Southern California beaches along the coast. During California's hot summers you can catch me strolling through Venice Beach, grabbing ice cream in Santa Monica, visiting Los Angeles' art museums, and mostly attending music festivals and concerts. Coincidentally, spending the summer in Menomonie has offered me a wonderful opportunity outside of research. As a music festival junkie, I will be attending Euax Claires music festival in two weeks with Lisette Solis! We are so excited to be doing research that we love and getting to partake in our hobbies out in Wisconsin. 

Acorny post on being a treehugger

Backpacking in Point Reyes National Park

            I’ve always really enjoyed being outdoors.  It just doesn’t feel right to me to spend a whole day inside.  I grew up swimming, playing soccer, and camping during the summers with my family.  As I got older I started camping and backpacking with my friends. 
            I took environmental science my senior year and really enjoyed it.  I loved being able to go on a hike and feel like I better understood the world around me.  However, I didn’t see myself seriously pursuing environmentalism further as an academic or professional interest.  I was pretty set on studying development, but I continued to hike, bike, camp, and casually take environmental science courses. 
It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I took a political ecology class that I started to see the connections between environmentalism and the things I was studying.  Before I had failed to see the connections between environmental issues and social issues, but this class helped me understand how interconnected the two are.  I completely rewrote my major concentration to focus on sustainable development and enrolled in biology and the core environmental science class for the next semester.  The next thing I knew I was in upper-division ecology classes and working in a conservation biology lab. 
This is probably as far I will go with science; I don’t think I’ll take any science courses in graduate school or ever be a scientist, but I’ve learned more about environmental science than I ever anticipated.  Moving forward I still plan to focus my studies and career on environmentalism, but probably from a policy or economic perspective.  I think the science courses I’ve taken will help me do this well.  Hopefully, I’ll even be to apply some of the things I’ve learned on this project.