Interdisciplinary research has turned me into a huge nerd... and I'm pretty okay with that. Not only am I curious about Ryleigh and I's own personal economic projects, but I'm super fascinated by what other students are working on this summer as well. Last Friday we assisted the sociology team (Elise and Sadie) in surveying farmers. Elise is studying farmers' practices based upon public policies and institutions that farmers interact with (i.e. the DNR). Sadie is also looking at farmer practices but is instead interested in the social connections that impact their business decisions. It was great to get away from the desk for a while and explore rural Wisconsin with them! Except for when the roads became increasingly confusing...whose idea was it to put fractions in street numbers?
Anyways, surveying farmers was a blast because they are some of the kindest, most interesting people in the Midwest. Also, since I'm studying the economic impacts of the TMDL report and how it affects farmers, it was humbling to talk with these people face to face and hear about their experiences on their farms and how they're treated by regulatory agencies. While surveying I began thinking, "how could I possibly research a group of people without actually going to meet them?" That's why interdisciplinary research is so important - it allows the researcher to see the entire dynamics of a situation, and not just one section that they're particularly interested in. The sociology research overlaps with my project so much so that they've offered to let me use some of their data that they're collecting about how many farmers use which types of management practices.
Hopefully my experience in the LAKES program will help me become increasingly malleable to any research project that I may undertake in the future!