Friday, June 20, 2014

Finding Menomonie

Week 1: Does the civic and work environment meet your expectations? Why or why not?

I have always been enthusiastic about learning. I enjoyed going to school when I was young and even in recent years, I have admittedly acted a lot like this on the first day of classes:

Perhaps if you asked me mid-semester if I still felt the same way, I would call you crazy. However, each new semester has presented me with the opportunity to grow as both a student and an individual. I appreciate the excitement and freshness of new beginnings and endeavors. My journey to Menomonie, WI was just that - a new endeavor.

I knew that the LAKES program was perfect me as soon as I read the description. I am an Environmental and Natural Resource Economics major at the University of Rhode Island and have directed my studies towards sustainable agriculture. Studying the economic impacts of phosphorous pollution and mitigation was a natural fit for my interests!

Although I have been tremendously enthusiastic about the research project from the start, I can't say that I was just as enthusiastic to spend my summer in small-town Wisconsin. Born and raised in Rhode Island, my knowledge about the Midwest is limited. In Rhode Island, everything is at your door step. You are no more than 45 minutes from anything you may need from any point in the state. With that being said, the only thing I need in the summer is the ocean. Just as the ocean is a cornerstone of Rhode Island culture and lifestyle, lakes are part of the Wisconsin experience. After being here for a few days, I can already tell that I am going to become emotionally attached to Lake Menomin and the surrounding community as a whole. I want this community to take pride in this body of the water. We need to clean this lake up.

We hit the ground running this week, diving into our research and deciding how we are going to attack this problem. I am pleasantly surprised by how well Chris, Matt, and I work together. We bounce ideas off of one another which keeps the energy levels high at all times. We are all excited about the interdisciplinary nature of this project and look forward to working with all of the other groups to fight blue-green algae with the threatening forces of science (*cue mad scientist laugh*). The work environment has been fun and productive and now that the weekend has come, I look forward to exploring Menomonie and the surrounding area. I already feel welcomed here, especially because people from the Midwest are so kind (seriously - from an outsider's perspective, especially a Northeastern perspective, you are some of the most composed and pleasant people I have ever been around! I'm impressed!).

I can't say for sure whether or not the civic and work environment has met my expectations, but I can say that I am pleased. As Week 1 comes to a close, I can happily say that the "first day of school"-type of excitement hasn't worn off yet and I don't think that it will anytime soon. Oh, and this sounds a lot like me trying to pronounce "Menomonie" (is it obvious that my favorite childhood movie is Finding Nemo yet?):

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