Monday, April 25, 2016

2 More Weeks!

Hi everybody, it's Gina Zaccagnini! Happy April and happy almost summer! Hard to believe there are only two more week of the semester... just like that, my sophomore year is over and I will officially be a Junior here at Purdue (crazy to think about that)! However, I wanted to say that I hope all of the graduating high school seniors have made (or are close to making) a decision for the upcoming fall... congrats if you did and if you are still deciding, do not fret! You will make a great decision.. this is for YOU! Do what YOU want to do!
Now, the last time I posted, I was getting ready to leave for my spring break study abroad trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Now that has sadly come and gone, I have to say, for my first time ever being abroad, I absolutely loved the country, its people, and having the chance through Purdue to be a part of such an amazing opportunity and be able to study abroad. The city of Cartagena was absolutely magnificent, and it was extremely rich in history and culture. We took a tour of the city and got to "site-see" many of the historical landmarks and places that represented how Cartagena developed under Spanish rule from the late 1400s until the country gained its independence.

In addition, myself and the 15 other students who also went on the trip were able to perform different service learning projects in the Palenque Village, located about two hours out of the city. The Palenque Village was created by escaped slaves (under Spanish rule), and the overall culture is known as "Palenque". They speak the Palenquero language which is comprised of Spanish, Portuguese, and Bantu, which is the language of a certain African village. We spent three very long days in the village, becoming accustomed with the Palenque culture, and interviewing some of the villagers who left the Palenque to seek education and a job within the cities of Colombia. The experience was quite amazing honestly. I had absolutely no idea about this culture, let alone did not know any of these people, and yet, they were so welcoming and overjoyed at the fact that us, as students of Purdue and the Colombian students (who were with us the entire week helping us translate and communicate with the Palenque villagers), were so interested in their unique and amazing culture. After this study abroad opportunity, it brought me closer to so many new friends here on campus, it opened my eyes even more about what is out there in the world, and has shown me that I definitely want to do another study abroad; whether it be for a semester, a Maymester, or even a week again. There is so much out there to see, and Purdue has so much to offer in regards to this... so take advantage!

With that being said, I would like to say good luck to everyone with finishing school, and best of luck on your finals (whenever they may be)! Study hard and keep your head up... almost done and almost summertime! I hope everyone has a nice, relaxing summer ahead and see you all next year!

Best of luck with everything,

Gina :)

Gina Zaccagnini
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
Purdue University 2018

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My Junior Year is Almost Over!

Hello fellows bloggers!

I cannot believe that the semester is almost over and that I am going to be a senior! My time at Purdue has flown by at an excessively rapid pace. From the time spent doing research with my hellbender lab to my time involved in my clubs, volunteering, church activities, and my cooperative house and balancing a full schedule of classes, you could say that I have been very busy!

This semester I became involved in the Student Chapter of Environmental Education (SCEE). This is a club that works to educate the community about different environmental topics and participate in outreach events. Last weekend I got to go the the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville to do a behind the scenes tour. We got to see several of the animals up close, including this incredible Indian rhino! We went to Mesker Park Zoo because they are getting ready to put in a new hellbender exhibit in partnership with the Purdue University Hellbender Lab team that I am a part of currently.

Me and the White Rhino at Mesker Park Zoo. 

My Dad and I at the Hellbender Hustle 5K at O'Bannon State Park.
This weekend to help raise awareness and money for hellbender conservation, O'Bannon State Park held the annual Hellbender Hustle 5K race. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the hellbender, they are a giant salamander that grow to be 2.5 ft long and are Indiana state endangered. Currently, hellbenders only are present in the Blue River, Corydon, IN. My lab and research team are working to help the hellbender by stabilizing the population through a head staring program using captive raised juvenile hellbenders taken form the Blue River as eggs. Raising the hellbenders in captivity at Purdue helps ensure their survival through the critical larval stage.

If you are interested, check out the Help The Hellbender website by Purdue Extension. 

Purdue University Hellbender Lab Team. 
Getting involved in research has really helped me focus in on what exactly I am interested in and what I want to to do after graduation. This summer I will be working for Purdue as a Wildlife Biologist on the Hellbender Project and conducting my undergraduate research dealing with aquatic trophic relationships. 

Until next time, 


Veronica Yager
Major: Natural Resources and Environmental Science
Concentration: Emerging Environmental Issues
Minor: Wildlife Science 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Adventures Abroad! Semester at University College, Dublin

Hello, all!

I'm now about halfway through my semester at University College, Dublin--what an amazing experience! I am taking classes within UCD's College of Agriculture and Food Science, and am also taking time to travel around Ireland and Europe. Here are a few highlights from these past two and a half months!

Front of UCD Belfield campus

Contrary to popular belief, taking classes towards your major while abroad can be really interesting! I'm taking Root and Alternative Crop Production, Microbiology, and Plant Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship. Personally, I was very interested in exploring agriculture systems beyond the U.S., so I've learned about potato, wheat, barley, and canola production, which are all very important to Irish agriculture. My Plant Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship class is awesome (it's like someone designed it just to fit my interests!). We have a group project which involves choosing a science-based business idea and developing a business plan, which includes market research, financial projections, and product information. My group is developing a strategy-based board game based on the concepts of evolution and natural selection--because science is fun! It's called "Fit"(like survival of the fittest!) It's great fun, and a great way to meet some Irish students. Classes work differently here--grades are based heavily on essays and final exams. It can be good and bad, and it certainly requires a high level of discipline!

Dublin is a great city! There's plenty to see and do, but it's not overwhelming. The Guinness Storehouse is a great tour--I have a new found appreciation for Guinness after being in Dublin! (Plus, they say it tastes better the closer you are to the source...) St. Patrick's Day in the city was quite the experience... Thousands of people (many of them tourists) crowd every street of the city center on this Irish national holiday to see the parade and partake in the festivities. 

My first trip to the Guinness Storehouse,
where I learned all about the "black stuff"
Temple bar district on St. Patrick's Day!
(VERY crowded, but very festive :) )

I've also had the opportunity to travel to other countries in Europe and around Ireland with friends and family! It's quite easy and affordable, so why not take advantage of it! I went with a few friends to Liverpool in the U.K. for some Beatles appreciation--we went on a Magical Mystery Tour bus tour and went to several museum exhibits dedicated to the Fab Four and the British Invasion movement. I also took a trip this past weekend to Belgium and the Netherlands where we were able to see the Keukenhof Garden--a giant, seasonal tulip exhibit outside Amsterdam!
Belgian waffles with the works! 

Spending some quality time with my
favorite boy band--The Beatles!

Made some sheep friends in Holland!
Celebrating Dutch heritage with
wooden shoes and tulips!
Windmills along the river in the Dutch village of Weesp
Tulips blooming at Keukenhof Garden!

More photos to come! Up next will be a collection of my favorite moments from the various trips I've taken throughout the wonderful country of Ireland. 

Until next time,

Hailey Edmondson

Monday, March 28, 2016

On the home stretch!

Hi all!

We are rapidly approaching the end of the semester, and beginning to hear about final exams and term projects!  No need to sweat though, as it's just another part of being a student.   This is my final semester at Purdue, so while I'm naturally excited to be finished with school, I will certainly miss this place and all the great folks with it.  I came as a transfer student, so these past two years have gone fast, but have been extremely fulfilling!  The course work has been great, but I put the most value on the friendships and connections I have made throughout my time here in the agronomy department.  As I begin my career as a farmer in northern Indiana, I will carry these friendships with me long after I walk across the stage at graduation.

I am thrilled about spring coming on here in Lafayette, bringing with it fieldwork and planting.  I'm just a good ole farm boy, and I'm real excited about those smells of spring - namely fresh-tilled soil and first-cutting alfalfa.  I headed home over the Easter weekend, and folks are gearing up for planting up that way.  The rye cover crop is growing well, and approaching the stage of growth where it just explodes upon a streak of warm weather.  Because of this, we're making plans to kill that cover crop in the next week to ten days ahead of planting beans into the rye cover at the end of April.  I encountered a nice spring rain on my drive back down to campus on Sunday which will slow down fieldwork, but provides some needed moisture to fill the soil profile with water going into the growing season.

Amid the sadness of leaving this place that I know and love, I'm excited for what lies ahead.  I know that my education here at Purdue will see me through in the coming years though!

Monday, March 7, 2016

We have a 2319!!

   If you aren’t familiar with the movie Monster’s Inc, the term 2319 is when a Monsters Inc employee is contaminated with an object that was touched by a human child. Although we are wearing similar suits to the Child Detection Agency, we are actually being trained to handle hazardous chemicals rather than objects contaminated by children. While pursuing a degree in Natural Resources/Environmental Science (NRES) at Purdue, you can take a course that trains and certifies you in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) through OSHA. NRES 280 is a 40-hour course in the spring semester taught by our local fire safety
specialist, Tom Cooper.
   Why would you want to become certified in HAZWOPER before you graduate? Once you enter the working world, there is a chance that your career can involve working with or managing hazardous chemicals as well as its clean up. With this being said, this certification can set you apart from other applicants when applying for a job. Being certified in HAZWOPER, can save an employer money in having to train you which may make you a more attractive candidate. What’s the best part? The certification is no extra cost to you during your last semester. This semester, I meet for class twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and fifteen minutes. During that time, Tom teaches us how to identify types of hazardous chemicals, how to put on equipment, and how to handle certain situations should there be an incident. Along with meeting during the week, we also meet two times for lab during the 10 week duration of the course. The two labs consist of hands on experience with the equipment  I have only completed one of the two labs so far this semester and it was definitely an interesting experience! During the lab, we suited up and put on an air respirator while accomplishing multiple tasks with a partner. One of the tasks included completing paperwork about a certain chemical in the dark. The purpose of completing some of these tasks in the dark is in order to prepare for a worst case scenario. Another task consisted of working out on a treadmill or an elliptical for five minutes. The purpose of this was for the individual to adjust to being hot within the suit, gloves, and air respirators. We also used tools in determining the pH, temperature, and oxygen count of different samples. The last part of the lab was my personal favorite. We took off the original air respirators and put on an oxygen tank.  Along with the tank, we also had to put another pair of gloves that really altered the way you could move and use your hand. In order to get used to the bulkiness, we were required to put together Legos. These aren’t the big Legos either. These Legos have the tiny and intricate pieces into creating what’s on the box. I obviously became very frustrated attempting to put the pieces together!
thanks to the help of the Purdue Fire Department.
   Overall, this course has been very hands on and interesting to learn about. It’s great to know that I will have this training done when I graduate to help me stand out while applying for jobs. The labs are a little hot, but they are fun! This course and NRES in general gives you the hands on experience within the classroom that you can eventually take into the real world. 

       Boiler Up! Love, Nicole

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happy February Boiler Family!

As we are moving right along into the semester, lots of exciting things are happening around our state. This is a very special year for Indiana, as we celebrate our bicentennial, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, the 60th IPL 500 Festival Parade, and the 40th running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon! This past month there were 33 college ladies from all over the state selected to serve as the 2016 500 Festival Princess Ambassadors. These young women were selected based on professionalism, scholarship, leadership, and community service. I have been blessed so greatly to be one of these 33 individuals! We had our orientation weekend last weekend and had so much fun while we learned about the 500 Festival and got to know each other. 
This is an outstanding platform for me to share my love of agriculture and spread the great news of what Purdue is doing in the industry.
Here at Purdue, classes are going through first rounds of exams and Boilers are studying hard! The Crops Resource Room has become one of my favorite study places. With computers, printers, friends, teaching assistants, and professors all around, homework is great to do during my day! I am loving learning new things about soil fertility, nutrient management, crop growth, ecology, and organic chemistry!
All students are looking forward to the warmer days to walk to class. Stay warm and bring on spring!
Boiler Up!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Has Spring Sprung Yet?

While the snow is falling here at Purdue, I can't help but to think of the warmer weather I'll be experiencing this Spring Break!  Nonetheless, it scares me to think too far forward in the year when there are only 3 more precious months in the place I've gotten to call home.  

My time in Purdue Agronomy has really set me up for a great future - I feel as if I'm prepared for whatever the world has to throw at me, regardless of where I am or who I'm with or what I'm doing.  While my next step is a graduate program at another institution, I feel confident that I would be able to find a place working in the area if I were going that route instead of what I've chosen.  What I've learned has extended so far beyond the classroom!  The friendships I've made, organizations I've been a part of, and experiences I've shared with others have made me truly grateful for the world around me.  Not only have I become rich with experiences, I've gotten so much professional exposure that I feel confident in stepping out into the real world (good thing, too, as I'll be forced to do it in 3 months!)
Here's to your journey at Purdue, hopefully as filled with possibilities as I've had.  Good luck with everything, as I sign off.  Love, Stephanie