As our first blog assignment, the 10 LAKES REU students were asked to share our getting started and settling in experiences. Specifically, we were asked to answer the question, "Does the civic and work environment meet your expectations?"
To answer this question blatantly, no.
I was surprised in a couple different ways by Menomonie when I first moved here.
I graduated from Chippewa Falls senior high school in 2011. Since that time, I have been attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout for an undergraduate degree in Applied Social Science, concentration of Sociology and Anthropology.
When the decision was made that I would go to Stout, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I had only see the town once as a fleeting image from the highway before moving here and had never set foot on campus. Thus, my first experience of Menomonie was much like what the other REU students are experiencing right now, lots of exploration and getting lost.
As for the campus, including the faculty and facilities, I couldn't have asked for a better fit for myself. I absolutely love my university. In the same light, I love the community. Thus, in terms of the university and community as a whole, I was pleasantly surprised.
What surprised me in a completely different way was the quality of Lake Menomin.
On a personal level, I remember moving in June of 2011 and seeing a beautiful lake that I could possibly spend my summer on and enjoying. Shortly after moving, I had asked a resident where I could go swimming. They laughed and said the nearest place that was “decent” was at least 30 or so miles away. I would soon find out that the seemingly beautiful lake goes through a hideous, toxic change each summer,
The lake itself is unlike anything else I’ve experienced living the majority of my life in the Midwest where lakes and streams are abundant and typically healthy. The blue green alga that blankets the surface is quite literally as thick as paint. It smells. It’s toxic. It’s ugly. And frankly, at this point in time, Lake Menomin is useless. It’s time for a change.
Thus, I am and continue to feel so honored to be a part of this project and work alongside so many talented individuals. It is my hope that I will continue to be surprised by what we can accomplish in the best of ways. I also hope we can all get a good start on what it is we came here to tackle and clean up Lake Menomin.