Juggling Student Organizations and Learning Time Management

Even before starting my collegiate career at Purdue, I knew that I wanted to become involved in organizations on campus. Through Boiler Gold Rush and events like the College of Agriculture Ice Cream Social, I was able to learn more about different clubs and their level of involvement throughout campus. 

Over the course of my freshman year, I joined several different student organizations that allowed me to be involved in the College of Agriculture, the Honors College, Greek life, and student government. Although I loved staying busy, it began to take a toll on my mental and physical well-being. This period helped me learn the valuable lessons of time management and prioritization, both of which I will use for the rest of my time as a Boilermaker and beyond. 

Being able to balance rigorous schoolwork, extracurriculars, maybe a campus job or research position, your social life, mental health, and everything else that comes with being a college student begins with understanding your priorities. Most of us only spend four years in college, and while this time period is incredibly transformative, it can also be very challenging to navigate. By prioritizing your involvements and evaluating their benefit to you (i.e., a professional organization to gain leadership experience, an intramural team to stay in shape and destress), you can decide what commitments best fit the life you want to have on campus. 

Saying no to the opportunities that you may not be able to 100% commit to or deciding not to further pursue one because it no longer interests you is perfectly normal. Your interests and passions may fluctuate as you go through Purdue and learn more about yourself and who you want to become, but that’s one of the most exciting parts of college! Enjoy it because it goes by in a flash! 

If you have any questions or just want to chat about life, feel free to email me at owyrick@purdue.edu!


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Activities Around Campus

Throughout my three and a half years at Purdue I have attended and participated in activities that have made my experience here even more rewarding. Some of my favorite events I have attended at Elliot Hall are the Purdue Christmas Shows, Bill Nye: Life Beyond Earth, and a Young the Giant concert. I even attended a Cage the Elephant concert there my senior year of high school. I also enjoy attending academic presentations and seminars. My favorite presentation I attended hosted by a famous environmentalist Bill McKibben, in which he spoke about his global environmental movement 350. Since I volunteered at the event, I was invited to have breakfast with him and the rest of the volunteers. One of my favorite organizations I was involved with was Boiler League of Tag (BLT). This club has Nerf based activities such as capture the flag and Humans V.S. Zombies. This club was a great opportunity to be active, learn team skills, and make friends. Lastly, whenever it is warm you can see me riding around campus on my longboard. I hope to join the longboarding club this spring and make some more friends to skate with.



A Semester During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review

This past semester has been unlike any other semester that I have experienced at Purdue. With hybrid classes, COVID testing, and Zoom meetings galore, I and all my fellow Boilermakers, have persisted through a crazy semester that we will definitely remember for years to come. In this blog post, I’m hoping to shed some light on what it was like to be a student at Purdue University during the pandemic.

Let’s start with classes themselves. I was an in-person student living off campus, but my time on campus was severely limited. I was enrolled in five classes: one met in person all the time (at least until October, but I’ll come back to that), one met on Zoom for lectures and labs (except for a few special circumstances; again, I’ll come back to that), and three that were completely online and done independently. My class that met in person met in a classroom that can normally hold about 60 students, but there were only 30 of us enrolled in the class. From what I understand, this was the normal enrollment for the class, but we were moved to a room that allowed us to follow social distancing protocols. This class eventually moved to Zoom lectures because the in-person attendance reached a point where only four people were in class, while the rest were online, so my professor decided it was time to go completely online. As I previously mentioned, one class met on Zoom except for a few special circumstances. These were three labs where we actually got to do the labs instead of watching a demonstration during our lab time, as well as our midterm exam. Despite the fact that the class only had 18 people enrolled in it, only 9 of us could be in lab at once, so our arrival times had to be staggered by group number. I was so excited to get to see my friends from this class in person! My three remaining classes were completely online, and they had some similar features, including weekly lectures, quizzes, and discussion boards. I found my planner to be even more important than during a normal semester, because it was easy to miss a small assignment when each class had such similar weekly activities.

Now let’s talk about clubs. I’ll be honest, I’m not very involved at Purdue. This semester I was an NRES Ambassador and a Protect Purdue Ambassador, and both of these groups used virtual meetings and messaging methods to keep everyone connected. The NRES Ambassadors had bi-weekly-ish meetings on Zoom and we stayed in contact with each other using GroupMe. I missed seeing everyone in person, but our health and safety was the most important thing. The Protect Purdue Ambassadors had monthly meetings with everyone on Microsoft Teams, and I also had bi-weekly Zoom meetings with my Protect Purdue team, where we discussed the projects we wanted to complete this semester. We mostly stayed in touch using GroupMe as well. Other clubs on campus were pretty much the same, with virtual meetings and group chats, but some clubs could get approval for in-person events. For example, our Environmental Science Club had an in-person movie night in early November. Even though things were weird, there were still ways to stay connected at Purdue, and I think that’s really great. Getting to interact with others is super important right now, and I’m grateful that there were still opportunities to do so.

Speaking of Protect Purdue, there were a lot of changes on campus to make sure that everyone on campus stayed safe and healthy. These changes are outlined in the Protect Purdue Plan and Pledge, so I won’t go into the fine details. Some of the main changes were: masks required inside at all times, socially distanced seating in classrooms, wipes in each classroom to sanitize your desk, and COVID surveillance testing. Thanks to the Purdue community, we were able to stay in-person until our predetermined end date during the week of Thanksgiving. This semester was weird, it was new, and it was even hard sometimes, but we did it. I don’t know for sure what the spring semester will bring, but after this semester, I know that I, and my fellow Purdue students, can get through it.



Public Policy Internship in D.C.

In the 2020 spring semester I left West Lafayette to live in Washington D.C. for an internship in the House of Representatives. 

For my internship I worked for Representative Jim Baird of Indiana’s fourth congressional district (IN-04).  It was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to the wide and bustling world of American politics and policy.  I was front and center to huge important events like President Trump’s impeachment trial, the Soleimani Airstrike, and the Coronavirus Pandemic.

I worked closely with numerous of congressional staffers, legislative directors, and chiefs of staff on projects and proposals.  For instance, I wrote memo briefs on hot topics like surprise medical billing, analyzed legislation comparison on the U.S. Farm Bills, and co-sponsor information cards for bills Hon. Baird was proposing. 

As a full employee I had full and complete access to government facilities to work in that normal people usually cannot explore.  This included the Capitol Building, U.S. House and Senate galleries, the Library of Congress, and the underground tunnel network benefit the city (I would literally walk through Nancy Pelosi’s office chambers while running paperwork to the Capitol!).  I also attended committee hearings help by Congressmen and briefs to learn more about issues facing our government.

I would recommend a ‘Capitol Hill’ internship to anyone interested in the world of policy and politics.  The experience not only educates you, but enables you to experience what it is really like within politics (and let me tell you it’s not how it may seem).

Questions? Contact: Bernard1@purude.edu


Pathways Positions with the U.S. Forest Service

If you are interested in working for the Forest Service, enjoy field-work, and desire job 179905EE-642B-4B5D-BEAA-9D54F73273FF-9B2C56AD-9A00-4710-864C-14013D65E8A7 (1)security, this blog post is for you. About a year ago, I was finishing up a seasonal job working for the Forest Service when my boss asked me if I would be interested in a career with the Forest Service. I, personally, very much enjoyed the work and was able to push past the bureaucracy of federal employment, so I said yes. My boss told me about this program within federal employment called Pathways. Basically it works like this: you apply into the program, into any department hiring (I chose forestry/silviculture), and if you’re hired, you sign a contract agreeing to work in your granted position until you graduate and then after graduation as well. It basically guarantees you a full-time job after college (as long as you meet the annual requirements for training). This is a great way to get your foot in the door, and enter a job that is meant for recent grads, meaning you’ll be trained, and not just thrown to the wolves. Of course there are stipulations, and I would recommend a second set of eyes to read your contract (might be time to call your dad), but I found that the requirements were reasonable and your supervisor will help you and have a training plan ready. 


I just finished up working my first summer in this position as a Silviculture Forester this past summer in John Day, Oregon on the Malheur National Forest. This job was awesome. The majority of my responsibilities included field work, meaning I was paid to hike around a national forest all day! There are office components as well (you’ll never escape GIS) but they help you build the foundation necessary to be successful in your field. I am already anxiously awaiting my return to Oregon after graduation. I am fortunate to have obtained this position and to have a job in crazy COVID times like these. I would highly recommend the Pathways Program (through USAJobs) to anyone interested in similar work and having similar career aspirations. If you have any questions about this process (it can be a little convoluted) don’t hesitate to reach out to me! My email is wade43@purdue.edu. (And my forest is hiring!) Good luck out there guys, hope to see you in the field some day. 



Graduating During a Pandemic

Graduating College is supposed to be one of the most important milestones of your life. 2020-05-02_05-00-45_000There are so many memories created and opportunities awaken. But what if when your year to graduate comes and the whole world shuts down due to a pandemic? I never thought it would happen in my wildest dreams, but here it happened to me.


Safe to say this year is like no other and it will always be remembered. Classes have been online since March and as the days count down closer to graduation, I can’t help but feel nothing. There’s no senioritis, sadness, or happiness. It just doesn’t feel real. In a little more than a week my college career will be over, but why doesn’t it feel like it?


I have my cap and gown and even my diploma, but it still hasn’t hit me. Maybe it’s because I never got to say goodbye to my friends or people I went to class with, I’ll just never see them again. I’ll never get walk across the stage at Elliott Hall of Music with the Class of 2020 and I’ll never get to experience a real senior week.


It’s been tough trying to make future plans. Companies aren’t hiring and graduate schools are unsure of what the future looks like. Luckily, I had accepted an internship at Walt Disney World as a backup plan, but even now there is still no certainty that it will still happen.


The silver-lining in all of this is realizing that you are not alone in this struggle. Graduates all across the world are in the same situation as you. Companies and schools know what we have been through. The Purdue faculty and staff and Alumni Association have done a great job at still trying to make this graduation special.


Even though I won’t be ending this year with a traditional fountain run I am still ever grateful for my time here at Purdue. I know that my education and experiences here will take me to great places. Plus, now when I come back to visit everything will be a little more special to me.


Boiler Up and Hammer Down Forever





When I sat down to write a blog post, I initially was going to write about my summer internship. However, considering everything going on, from the protests to the expulsion of Maxwell Lawrence, I felt it would be more beneficial to current and prospective students to address racism at Purdue. This is an issue that a lot of us, myself included, can afford to pretend doesn’t exist. It wasn’t until I read through the Instagram account @blackatpurdue that I truly grasped how big of an issue this is. The sheer number of these instances of racism is staggering. Less than a week after the account began, it had nearly 150 stories directly from students about their racist experiences at Purdue. I hope that as more people begin to acknowledge how prevalent this issue is at our institution, we will begin to work more towards change, equality, and justice.

So, what can we do? First, educate yourself! Find books, movies, podcasts, etc. and begin to learn about persons’ of color experience.  If you struggle with this topic, this can help you understand why we need change. A good place to get started is this document of compiled resources that one Purdue student put together! https://docs.google.com/document/d/19r0VEkEDD-sdTkQ7BIx3LoO7LbWpayq_l7RhY2aBY8M/edit?usp=sharing

You can also start a conversation. It is not POC’s job to educate you, but you can ask if they would be willing to share their experiences, so you have a better understanding.

Next, educate those around you. This can be an intimidating thing, but it is an issue that we cannot be afraid to address. Repost those cool insta graphics, but also tell your grandpa why the joke he just made is racist. Spread information on any platform you have and keep the momentum up!

Finally, hold those around you accountable. If you hear your friends say the n word, hard r or not, singing or stated, then call them out on it! If your professor makes an unfair assumption or racist comment towards a student, defend the student! Put pressure on Purdue to hold students accountable as well. After all, racist students go on to become racist doctors, racist lawyers, racist programmers, etc.

Now more than ever it is important for students to work together and stand up for what is right using whatever platform they have. The expulsion of a student actively demonstrating the exact things a Boilermaker should not stand for shows just how powerful students’ voices are.

*It is also important to note that this issue directly affects our field in instances of environmental racism. If you are unsure of where to start with educating yourself, this could be a good place. A few examples include Flint, Isle de Jean Charles, and Cancer Alley. Reach out to me if you want more resources or have questions!


**Edit from the NRES Co-Directors, Dr. Bowling and Dr. Prokopy: You can also learn more about these issues in our 1 credit class (NRES 498) this fall entitled: “Environmental Justice, Structural Racism and COVID-19”.

Long-term Study Abroad

One of the fondest memories I have of being a Purdue student so far is not on Purdue campus, but on the other side of the world for nearly 7 months in Denmark during my sophomore year. It is difficult to describe fairly and thoroughly how rewarding it was for me to study abroad for a semester. I immersed myself in research at the University of Copenhagen and took classes as part of my concentration in Emerging Challenges: Environmental Microbiology. I enjoyed being a part of Sustainable City, a student group from Studenterhuset and made long lasting friends with people from around the globe. My favorite thing about Denmark was the biking culture and the ease and power a bike gave me in Copenhagen. I could go anywhere I wanted to and felt safe doing so. I was able to visit the historic Christianhavn and track down the hidden wooden giants made from re-purposed wood! Biking allowed me to take my time and drink in the beautiful sights of Copenhagen’s architecture. download (3)


I was very inspired by their environmentally conscious way of living and the innovations they came up with to address pollution, food waste, the recycling industry, transportation, climate change, etc. I stumbled upon the Repair Cafe one day as I was biking to the lab and found out that a cafe hosted a repair shop once a month for free. The Repair Cafe is volunteer run and free for anyone to use to repair their broken things or ask a volunteer to fix something for them, be that clothing, electronics, or even toys! I happened to have three pants with holes in them and was able to get them fixed the next time I saw them. Being a study abroad student, I did not have ample sewing resources to do so. The people in the Repair Cafe were also working with their government and the EU to pass laws that would force companies to make their products reparable, rather than disposable, to curb waste. How wonderful it would be if we could do that in the throwaway culture in the United States!


Los Market, a zero waste grocery store, and WeFood, a reduced waste grocery store, were also some of my places to visit as well. Los Market was made on the principle that food should be bought without disposable packaging to curb waste. WeFood was a volunteer run grocery store selling food that were past the sell by date but in good condition to be consumed. I absolutely loved biking to both places, bringing my jars and containers to Los Market to buy grains, vegan gummy bears, beans, flour, olive oil, mushrooms, salt, vegetables, all without disposable packaging! At WeFood I enjoyed buying cheap bread with the knowledge that I was preventing it from going to waste and that the money was going to countries struggling with famine, such as South Sudan and Ethiopia.



Europe’s amazing rail system allowed me to travel to Sweden and backpack for a week in their woods on a shoestring budget. I was also able to visit Micropia, one of my favorite museums in the world located in Amsterdam, and taste delicious chocolate in Belgium. In each country I visited I sought for new information and experiences, making connections with people and learning about their background and view points. The views, the cultures, the environments, and the people all deeply enriched my worldview and the experience is something that I’ll hold dearly. In some ways I wish I went for an entire year instead of only a semester to continue to learn from the Danish’s hygge (cozy in Danish) way of living. They’re statistically one of the happiest people in the world living a minimalist lifestyle centered on building friendships and community, so they are definitely doing something right.

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My suggestion to Purdue students is to not be afraid to take a bold giant leap into another culture, learn a new language, build new friendships with people completely different from you, immerse yourself in your studies in another country surrounded by new and wonderful sights. There are many scholarships available to College of Agriculture students to curb the costs of travel and living expenses. In some cases you can even work at the other country. I was given that option in Denmark through my student visa. The preparation may seem daunting at first but once you get there, you may love it so much you won’t want to leave by the end.

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Connection Despite Distance

Jacoby Blog NRES


The past couple weeks have brought sudden change to Purdue’s campus. Students just completed their first week of “e-learning” due to COVID-19. For the rest of the semester, I will be accessing my classes 100% online, from my hometown in northern Wisconsin. Though suspending campus-life in the middle of the semester has been a difficult adjustment, the Purdue community has been creating ways to remain strong and connected even while apart.

The most impactful way that I am continuing my engagement with the Purdue community is through my involvement with the Purdue World Water Day Planning Committee, which is led by NRES Director, Dr. Bowling, and ABE professor, Dr. McMillan. During the first half of the semester, we worked on planning a series of events to honor UN World Water Day – a yearly international celebration of freshwater. However, in order to comply with social distancing requirements, we had to come up with an alternative that could administer the same information virtually. Our team’s creative solution was to produce a podcast, titled “Purdue Water and Climate Expert Series”, featuring conversations with Purdue professors who study issues at the intersection of water and climate change.

Over the past two weeks, we have been busy adapting our plan to this new format. I’ve helped produce promotional materials for social media, set up interview logistics, and generated questions to ask the Purdue experts. Yesterday, Grace Filley (undergraduate in ABE) and I spent the day co-moderating conversations with Purdue professors over video calls. This project is turning out to be one of my most unique Purdue experiences, and it has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and improve my scientific communication skills. Additionally, as a student in NRES with a concentration in Water Quality, these conversations have been invaluable in learning about the complexity of water and climate issues in a wide variety of sectors, such as agriculture, engineering, and social sciences.

It is very inspiring to see the Purdue experts’ dedication to their research and to work on a team that is dedicated to making the most out of an unpredictable situation. We are excited to release our first podcast episode in just a couple days and hope that sharing this knowledge will further conversations about important water issues and help bring the Purdue community together.


Cooperative Living

One of the great things about Purdue is the amazing opportunities it is able to offer students. Many are obvious, like the quality of classes/professors, the career center, or the athletics. Others are ones that students sometimes stumble upon or hear about through the grapevine. While every ambassador will gladly tell you about NRES and how much we all enjoy the academic side of Purdue, a key part of what shapes your college career are the other things you become involved in. For me, a major factor has been cooperative living.

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Cooperative houses are a branch of fraternity, sorority, and cooperative living (FSCL). There is a total of 11 houses, 7 women’s and 4 men’s. Cooperatives share a lot of the same values that fraternities and sororities have, like scholarship, philanthropy, and sisterhood/brotherhood. The key difference is that each cooperative house is independently owned and run, so it is unique to Purdue’s campus. We as students (with a little help from an adviser and alumni) run the house and take care of it. This means that there are constant opportunities to hold leadership positions. We also share the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning, which make us the most affordable housing on campus. I pay about $3,200 per year, which includes rent, utilities, food, and all other expenses.


I heard about coops from some family members who participated when they were students at Purdue. At first, I didn’t really consider going through recruitment because I wasn’t very interested in sororities and figured that it would be the same. My mom pushed me to consider going through recruitment more, mostly because of the financial aspect since I am responsible for putting my self through college. I went through recruitment the January of my senior year and ended up falling in love with the house Ann Tweedale. Getting into AT was actually what helped me make the final decision of where I would go to college.


Now, I am getting ready to go into my fourth year in the house next year. Some of my favorite things about my house are the friends I have made. I live with 39 other girls and cannot imagine how different my college experience would have been if I hadn’t met them. Additionally, because the cooperative system is fairly small (we make up about 2% of Purdue), the entire community is close-knit. We frequently do things like dinners, philanthropy events, or various social events together. There is never a day on campus where I walk to or from classes without passing someone I know in the coop system.

Another one of the things I appreciate most about coops is the leadership opportunities I have gotten. In Ann Tweedale, I have been able to serve on the executive board as health and safety officer. I have also held various positions like assistant treasurer, philanthropy chair, and served on standards board. I also got to serve on the Purdue Cooperative Council as the Executive Director of Public Relations. All of these positions have helped me gain skills that can be applied to my future career, like budgeting, effective marketing, time management, etc.

Cooperative houses are often referred to as the “hidden gem of Purdue”. I will forever be thankful that I found out about them and was able to join because the experiences I have gained in AT are what truly elevated my college experience. Some of my best advise to any incoming or current student would be to step outside of your comfort zone to become involved. You may stumble upon the organization that helps shape your own personal experience at Purdue.

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