Lesson #1: Learn to Co-Op
On the corner of 8th and Main St East in Menomonie, Wisconsin sits my first lesson about this eccentric small town. For some, this food market co-op serves as a place to grab lunch between long days at the lab. For others, a trip to this market is just the first step in bringing the family together later that night through a meal made with love. Unlike any other food store I have been in, co-ops are community owned. Over 2,000 community members of all walks of life own equity in this co-op where they share a common goal of sourcing local, organic, and natural food.
Analogous to the food market co-op is the dynamics of my LAKES research team. Never would I have believed that I would be working alongside of economists, anthropologists, geologists, and sociologists with a common goal in mind. In a world with so much disconnect built from egocentricity and isolationism, invisible barriers have been placed between the disciplines where one dares not to cross between. There is true beauty in the shattering of these barriers.
Of the thirteen undergraduate researchers and six research mentors, every individual brings something different to the pursuit in remediating the Red Cedar Watershed. Each undergraduate researcher has been carefully hand-picked from thousands of outstanding applicants from all over the country. Every single person has experiences unlike the others completing a patchwork which in itself is remarkably beautiful.
I have never felt more proud to have ownership of the experiences and wisdom I have gained over the course of my undergraduate career thus far. I am looking forward to sharing the knowledge I have and soaking up as much knowledge from others that I can possibly hold on to. While mistakes are to be made, and unforeseen mishaps are sure to happen, I have no doubts that discoveries will be plentiful within the next seven weeks of hard work and cooperation.