My name is Ryleigh Prochnow and I was born and raised in the Menomonie/Colfax area, but I study economics at UW La Crosse. Because I am a local, I honestly didn’t have much for expectations since I already know the area, or so I thought. Growing up in this small, rural area in the middle of nowhere, I always idolized the bigger and exciting cities. However, now that I have gotten more involved in the nature and history of the area, I have realized how unique and beautiful Menomonie and the surrounding area really is. By seeing the reactions to the town and nature from the other students, I have grown a new appreciation for this environment. The thick, beautiful grasses and flowers from abundant rainfall, the plentiful creatures like deer and squirrels on campus (we saw a deer right across our dorm), and the beautiful people have reached a new light in my life, and I could not be more thankful to have this new perspective. I have learned that life's most beautiful gifts can be right in front of you, you just have to look carefully.
On the other hand, I was very excited to meet new people and learn more about my community, but I was super nervous to meet the professors. So far, the experience has been better than I ever could have imagined. The other students and professors are absolutely amazing, and I can already tell that we are going to have a great summer together learning and trying to make the water quality better for everyone. The work environment is so much better than I anticipated. Before, I already felt so intimidated and nervous, but my mentor, Chris, and partner, Madison, have made me feel extremely comfortable and ready to take on our project. Being around this work environment makes me consider pursuing my further education anymore because it is something I could see myself enjoying doing every day. Even if our project doesn't go as planned, it will be great to learn new skills and inform people of the issues we face trying to solve water quality. I already know this is going to be a life changing summer with unforgettable people. J