A campus ordinarily teeming with people is quiet. Streets I have passed hundreds of times hold new interests and experiences. People all around me are full of questions I can’t give satisfactory answers to. Menomonie I thought I knew you. I grew up next to you. I visit you all semester long when I go to classes, when I stop by to see family, when I just need to pick up a few groceries. Yet I don’t think I ever gave much thought to what you are or what you had to offer.
You are a city thrust onto a natural environment. While I know something about the place where you live, that teems with the plants and animals I have grown accustom to, I have become complacent with my knowledge. I no more question the presence of geese or sumac trees than I do the sun rising in the morning, because it is just you, just Menomonie. When I stopped asking questions I stopped finding answers, but there are so many more answers to be had. There is information flowing through your streets, forests, and farmland. It’s bubbling up with the cyanobacteria in your lake. My peers in the LAKES REU have helped me to see the questions I have never asked. This program has helped me see the struggles you face and the joys you have to give. It’s only the first week!
I’m glad I get to look at your environment as an ecologist, Menomonie. The environmental dilemmas you face are complex and overwhelming. I find a lot of comfort in taking the methodical approach of science to deal with these issues. It is easy to become lost in information about how chemicals react in the lake to increase phosphorus, how common carp can compound the problem, or how incredibly efficient cyanobacteria are at living. Methodically asking questions and searching for answers makes it easier to cope with this problem of yours. We’ve been neighbors for a long time Menomonie. Now it’s time we get to know each other a little better. Let’s dive into your smelly, green lake problem!