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