Monday, February 2, 2015

The beginning of the end as a Boilermaker.. or not?

Hello again!

I am in a bittersweet mood as I sit down to write my second to last blog as an ambassador (I will write another one toward the end of the semester when I have finalized my plans post-graduation). I would say that my last semester is one of a typical NRES student; having the majority my credits covered, I am tying up loose ends with my classes this spring. That is not to say they are less interesting than previous courses, though. I am taking a world crop distribution class as well as a hazardous waste handling class. The hazardous waste handling class is one that I have been looking forward since I transferred into NRES. The course is no longer required for all NRES students but because my concentration is land resources, it is something I definitely should experience. The highlights of this class (which is very much focused on real world application) is the labs in which we get to suit up and work through hazardous waste handling scenarios. Woohoo! I would say it will be one of the most interesting lab experiences I will have at Purdue.

Aside from my classes this semester, I am continuing my undergraduate research project, working with Dr. Keith Johnson, and for a little extra cash, I am a barista at Starbucks. We will be conducting the greenhouse segment of the project this semester, and we hope to observe some interesting results and produce a case study from it.

My work with Dr. Johnson has slowed since I last posted. At this point in the project, the grasses have been harvested, data have been recorded, and the remainder of my duties include grinding the harvested samples. Let me be the first to tell you this is not the quickest of tasks, but it will all be worth it when we send the samples off for testing, concluding my journey working with the bioenergy grass project.

Now, you may be curious of the title I chose. My plans post-graduation are currently to attend graduate school, and as you might have guessed by the title, I have applied to Purdue. So, as I sit and write my last blog post, I am uncertain if I will continue as a Boilermaker or switch to something else! The excitement of my undergraduate career winding down is balanced by the stresses of graduate school application deadlines. Alas, upon my next blog post, I will be able to tell you what school I will be calling home for the next two years of my life! One thing is for certain, though. I can reflect on my journey as an NRES student and smile, knowing it has allowed me to realize my passions and given me the courage to set high goals for myself, and be confident that I will achieve them! I am getting a little emotional writing this.. I guess all good things must come to an end.

I will share a few photos as to what I have been up to lately (besides, who doesn't like pictures!)

Dr. Johnson has shown me an appreciation for forages, and just how special they are. Here are some pictures, and I hope you see the beauty in the grasses like I do!

                                 Morning Frost on switchgrass in Peru, IN in mid December

Another adventure since the last time I checked in was this January, when I went to Aspen, CO with the Ski and Snowboard Club. We stayed at Snowmass, the largest of the four mountains. We hiked the ridge of the Highlands Bowl, and let me tell you, there is no better feeling of accomplishment!
 This is me at the sign for the first entry of the Highland Bowl. From this point, we had an hour hike up the ridge to reach the top, which is shown below. 
 This is the top of the Highlands Bowl; the final stop before the last gate to snowboard down. 
 On the third day we travelled to Aspen Mountain, and found this wall of skis. I decided to add my snowboard to the "wall of fame". 
And finally, being the environmental scientist I am, I went to the Nature Center on Snowmass Mountain. The girl working recommended I go check out ACES (Aspen center for Environmental Sciences), which is what is shown in the picture above. It was a 30 acre nature preserve downtown Aspen. There, we got to see an owl eat a mouse, a Golden Eagle, and plenty of ducks. It was a gorgeous evening! 

Unitl next time! 

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