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