Last Sunday, I packed up my things and made the journey all the way to the UW-Stout Red Cedar Hall... from across town. I'm a Stout student, and I'll be a senior next year in the Applied Social Science program. When I was a freshman, I came to school in late August when the algae blooms were really quite something. The smell was overwhelming, but everyone just shrugged it off, saying that it was something that just happens every year, and you get used to holding your breath when you run by it. So when I heard about the LAKES REU, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of, but not just because I experienced the algae blooms every season. This experience will show me the many different aspects and figures that play into the health of Lake Menomin and the rest of the Red Cedar Watershed. Additionally, I've realized in the past year that one of my favorite things is people coming together to create genuine change. And, even though this is on a different scale than I'm familiar with, this REU is that: people coming together, across disciplines and backgrounds, to make a difference.
So when I moved into the dorm that will be my temporary home for the next seven weeks, I was excited. Excited to meet my peers, greet my professors again after the school year had ended, and really to get started. In our first week, we focused more on orienting ourselves to the community and to the projects themselves. We started with some background information, becoming familiar with the various software programs we'll be using, and getting a feel for what we'll be doing for the summer. Even though it's just the first week, I'm excited to work with my mentor and research partner to look into various policies and oral histories, as well as with the other research projects, and the community of the Red Cedar Watershed.