Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Learnin'

Since I am passionate about our environment and know that the Menomonie economy has a strong agricultural sector, I would like to learn more about how conservation practices in agriculture can improve water quality, which can improve tourism, which can improve the local economy. If I find that practicing conservative agricultural practices would actually hurt the Menomonie economy, I would like to learn about possible solutions that could counteract that negativity. The community here is full of generational farmers, so I'm sure it will be hard to convince them to change their traditional ways of farming, but I'm hoping with the research my team is doing this summer, we will have enough evidence to show that practicing agricultural methods that improve water quality for our community can at least benefit the well-being of the locals.

When you have the restless mind of a researcher, there is never enough to learn or enough information to absorb. With that in mind, this past week has consisted of endless readings of case studies on the impact that conservation agriculture has on the economy, the impact water quality has on an economy, and the impact tourism has on an economy. There are an unlimited amount of variables to consider when evaluating this research and conducting your own, which makes this process quite complicated. Besides reading case studies, I will also be learning more about these topics by surveying Stout students, tourists in Chetek, and residents of Menomonie. In addition, I would like to learn how conservation practices in agriculture would effect farmers here, and if the cost benefit analysis would show that conservation practices in farming are not only better for the environment, but for profits as well. Hopefully, by analyzing the behaviors and attitudes of the recipients of the surveys, we can collect enough data to estimate the how much each business industry is affected and put that into our IMPLAN software which can estimate the impact having clean water in our lakes/rivers would have on the economy.

In the end, even if after all our research we find that increasing water quality or practicing conservation agriculture will actually damage Menomonie's economy, at least I was able to gain priceless knowledge about the environment, agriculture, the economy, and research methods that will benefit me for the rest of my life. In addition, the relationships,connections, and memories I will make with people from all walks of life will be more than worth the hard work.

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