Upon arriving from drought-ridden Southern California, I must say that my first impression was that Menomonie is very green! We passed several lakes and farms on the way in. On our first night we had dinner right by Lake Menomin, which appeared to be beautiful and several people were enjoying boating, canoeing, and wake boarding. I was surprised to hear that in the weeks to come we will see it change to an algae infested and toxic area. However, the other day I went down to the lake, and just in that section, the water was a bright green color! It was shocking to see it attached to the rest of the beautiful lake.
My expectation before arriving was that we would be doing a lot of research, and although that appears to be correct, I clearly needed to better understand the community and lake better before starting. Since I am working on the economics side of the project, I was not expecting to learn so much about ecology and farming on the first few days. Even with the little bit of knowledge I’ve gained, it is easy to see that the work we will be doing will have an important impact. As for the civic environment, I knew that compared to my hometown, Menomonie would be small, but I didn’t realize how close the community was to one another. Walki ng down the streets or driving by houses, everyone seems to know everyone else. I’ve enjoyed all the conversations I’ve had and the opportunity to get to know some of the people who live here. Everyone I’ve talked to so far has been welcoming, extremely nice, and interested in our project. I’m looking forward to the work we will be doing in this place that is our home for the summer!