My Experience in the 2022 Summer College of Agriculture Research Fellowship (SCARF)

By Kendall Daniels

Every student in the NRES program is required to complete a research or internship experience to meet their capstone requirement. This past summer, I completed my requirement as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Bowling’s Purdue Hydrologic Impacts Group (PHIG). Additionally, I assisted in a literature review under Dr. Frankenberger for the Indiana Science Assessment for the State Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

When applying to work for this position, I also applied for SCARF at the same time. SCARF is a summer program for undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture that are interested in research. This 11-week, paid program is designed to expose students to a variety of research fields in the College of Agriculture. In addition to completing research, we met once a week for lunch and communication workshops. Occasionally, we had outside events such as industry tours or group outings. At the end of the summer, all SCARF students were required to present a poster at the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Symposium.

OUR Symposium

I applied for SCARF in the Spring 2022 semester; the deadline was March 4. In the application, I stated that I wanted to work for Dr. Bowling as faculty have to apply as well. To participate in the program, students must be a full-time undergraduate student in the College of Agriculture, have a GPA of 3.0 or above, engage in research for at least 40 hours per week during the fellowship timeline, and engage in the activities scheduled by the program. While it is encouraged to participate in all activities, vacation, time-off, and sick days are permitted when discussed with faculty. Students are not allowed to take summer courses while enrolled in SCARF. They are also required to secure their own summer housing. I received my acceptance letter April 1st. SCARF began May 16th and ended July 28th. The SCARF calendar doesn’t necessarily line up with summer research; the timeline of summer research is determined by the faculty you work under, not necessarily by SCARF.

SCARF calendar of events for June 2022.

Students receive a $5,400 stipend for participating in SCARF. Funding is provided equally from the Office of Academic Programs and/or Agricultural Research and Graduate Education office, from the department, and from the faculty research mentor. $1,800 is paid to the student monthly. However, $600 of the May payment is given in advance for students to secure summer housing. Additionally, a free meal is provided at each activity.

SCARF was an extremely valuable experience. I went into my summer research wanting to find out if graduate school was right for me. SCARF provided sessions about graduate school and career advising. Interacting with students across many different research fields also informed me about what other research is being done and the different research environments there are. I was doing research with wetlands and predominantly did field work, but many other students worked in a more traditional lab. There were students doing research in precision nutrition, plant genetics, anaerobic digestion, and much more. Three other NRES students were in the program with me, but students were from all across the College of Agriculture. I left the program with a better understanding of the research process, clearer plans for my future, amazing connections, new friends, and my very own white coat. If you are a student interested in undergraduate research, I highly recommend applying for SCARF in the spring.


Prophetstown State Park internship with the Indiana DNR

By Abby Lenzini

As a student in NRES, some of the best learning experiences
for me have been when I am out in the field working hands-on.
During my time at Purdue, I have had many different
opportunities to get this field experience both throughout my
coursework and through internships.

This summer interning with the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources at Prophetstown State Park was one of these
amazing learning opportunities for me! I was working as a part
of the resource management team, and our goal was to help
restore areas of the park back to an oak savanna ecosystem and
manage the existing restored prairies. The main way we accomplished this was by planting native plants and removing invasive plants through physical, chemical, or biological methods. This internship helped me to grow my practical knowledge of
the natural world and experience what it’s like working for a state agency.

Some of my responsibilities this summer included:

  • Planting the native plants around the park and maintaining
    the greenhouses
  • Removing invasive plant species including Sericea
    lespedeza, reed canary grass, mulberry trees, honeysuckle,
    and multiflora rose
  • Determining which method of removal and/or which
    herbicides to use for the target invasive species and specific
    area and mixing them at the proper rates
  • Maintaining trails (string trimming, removing tree limbs and
  • Completing wildlife checks at buildings around the park and
    helping to relocate when necessary
  • Setting up for park events and assisting maintenance staff
    with larger projects
  • Maintaining campsites and campground (trimming trees and
    bushes, pulling weeds, mowing)
  • Training and leading volunteers for all of the above

My favorite part of this job (apart from getting to spend the entire summer outside in a beautiful park) was the day-to-day variety and constant problem-solving this role required. With a relatively small park staff, I was often pulled away from my resource management work to help with other projects or day-to-day park operations such as setting up tents for a park event. Also, as the summer progressed, the changes in the season led to different types of work being prioritized. For example, in the spring, we focused primarily and planting native plants, but in July we were primarily removing sericea lespedeza because that is when it was growing the most. This variation allowed me to develop many new and sometimes unique skills – like how to drive and operate a dump truck – and provided new challenges every day. This also fostered a very supportive team environment with all my coworkers and made me excited for what each day would bring.


Getting Involved in Sustainability at Purdue

By: Anna Hampton

One of my favorite things about Purdue is that there is a club or organization for almost everything! There are so many ways to get involved meet new people, learn new skills, serve the Purdue community, and overall have some fun. That includes a variety of environmental organizations, as one of the directors of Sustainability for Purdue Student Government I recently organized a Sustainability Summit where I was able to hear from and learn more about Purdue’s environmental organizations. Each organization is unique and offers different opportunities and ways to get involved. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Environmental Science Club:
  • The Environmental Science Club aims to increase the education, awareness, and community involvement of its members relating to the field of environmental science.
  • More information can be found on their Instagram @escpurdue or on Boilerlink.
  • Boiler Green Initiative:
  • To be the voice for students interested and concerned about sustainability.
  • To work with administration and outside organizations to implement feasible changes on and off campus relating to environmental sustainability
  • To plan events and interactive opportunities to educate the Purdue community on how sustainable changes can be implemented into their daily lives.
  • More information can be found on their Instagram @bgi_purdue, on their website https://www.boilergreen.com/, or on Boilerlink.
  • Purdue Student Sustainability Council:
  • To raise awareness and enact meaningful change related to environmental sustainability for the students of Purdue University and the surrounding community.
  • With committees dedicated to: Climate, Erase the Waste, Friday Night Lights, Outreach, Precious Plastics, Textile Waste, and Blog
  • More information can be found on their Instagram @psscouncil, on their website purduessc.weebly.com, and on Boilerlink.
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby:
  • Primary goal is to promote the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act through lobbying and grassroots mobilization. Primarily focus on carbon fee, carbon dividend, and border carbon adjustment.
  • They can be found on Instagram @cclpurdue.
  • West Lafayette Students for Climate Action:
  • Mission of bringing students and administration together to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030
  • They can be found on Instagram @wl4climateaction and on Twitter @wlclimateaction

Additionally, while not a student club or organization the Center for the Environment is a wonderful resource and worth checking out if you are interested in research.


Internship with the New York Marine Rescue Center

By: Cody Dateno

I could make this a “How – To” blog post and talk about the millions of fears that incoming freshman may have such as, “How to manage my time effectively”, “How to make friends in college”, or “How to do well academically”, however I feel that sharing my motivations, and passions towards my academics, and my career will be of more significance and hopefully spark the fire within you as well! In the end, “if you have a job that you love, you never have to work a day in your life”.

            My love for the environment came from the oceans. Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by the smelly, slimy, and sometimes sticky creatures that I wound find (or hunt for) on the beach. As I grew older, I had the opportunity of experiencing amazing, underwater phenomena’s such as bioluminescent bays, as well as hands-on experiences like fishing, snorkeling, and various marine mammal sightings, which only enhanced my love and curiosity for the oceans and the environment. A short couple years later, I found myself swimming side-by-side to candy wrappers, plastic bottles, and other plastic items… and I knew I wanted to make a change, and dedicate my life to creating a safer, healthier, and cleaner environment for everyone.

            I am concentrating in Environmental Quality & Restoration because I want the hands-on experience of physically, biologically, and chemically, restoring earth’s natural landscapes back to their most optimal and efficient forms.  In order to aid in my career development, and interests within the oceans, I interned with the New York Marine Rescue Center this past summer. To say the least, this opportunity was so awesome and a great way to start my path from Purdue. Please find my internship poster below, and always feel free to reach out if you have any questions about NRES, life at Purdue, or just want to chat about the environment 😊 Boiler Up, and Hammer Down.


What Is Under Our Control?

By: Serae Neidigh

As I sat down to write this piece, my mind flipped through all of the normal topics of reflection on study abroad experiences. I could write about the unlikely friendships I had, and how I connected with people from different countries and backgrounds. I could write about the beautiful places I saw and the New Zealand culture that I grew to love. But all of those topics seem like a facade for the true experience I had studying abroad this semester.

Truthfully, my growth this semester mostly came from a global crisis, rather than my beautiful experiences in New Zealand. Like everyone else, life as I knew it came to a sudden halt in March when the coronavirus became a pandemic. Unlike everyone else, my friends and I were in New Zealand, about as far geographically from the U.S. as you can get, feeling the pull of home strongly but also feeling that we were safer where we were. Staying in NZ as travel bans went into effect meant risking being separated from our families for months and hunkering down in our apartments alone. But leaving meant giving up on a country we were coming to love fiercely, paying thousands of dollars to get on rapidly disappearing flights (that could leave us stranded in northern New Zealand or the western US), and risking exposure to COVID as we moved through multiple international airports. Ultimately, the decision was made for us as Purdue recalled the last study abroad programs in New Zealand and Australia. Feeling simultaneously heartbroken and relieved, we started preparations to return after 6 weeks instead of 16 weeks.

When life involves only emotional mountaintops, the knowledge that things might change is always there. But having an actual end date made every moment so much sweeter. Though our last weeks in New Zealand were our most stressful, they were also the happiest– we made new friends, planned trips we had been hesitant to go on, and generally felt that if we had to go out, we were going to go out on a high note. My friends and I supported each other so well, a ragtag group of Kiwis and Americans and Canadians and Swedes, all bonded by our love for New Zealand and our worries for each other. And we each bore the emotional weight of our situation with grace; everyone was allowed to mourn when they needed it, but we were able to put our sadness aside for plenty of happy moments. It is hard for college students to learn to accept that which we cannot control, because we are young enough to believe we can change anything and old enough to change a lot. But learn we did, and we put aside our frustration in favor of humanity, compassion and focusing on the things we could do.

The beautiful thing about time is that everything is sweeter in memory. Over the coming months and years, I know that my sadness about leaving will slowly be forgotten. What I will remember is the exquisite turquoise of New Zealand lakes and rivers, the feeling of driving on a winding mountain road and feeling lucky to be alive, and how the sky was so open and wide that it almost touched the earth. And when I remember the current crisis, I will remember how bonded I felt to everyone around me, how people often asked “how are you doing?” and really wanted to know. At a time when the world was at its worst, our humanity was at its best.


A Summer with Snakes

I spent this past summer in Grayling, Michigan working on a wildlife study through Purdue University Fort Wayne. This study was looking for the presence of snake fungal disease on lands owned by the state of Michigan. This is a widespread disease throughout the eastern United States, and we were there to determine where the disease was present in order to allow the environmental team to create a mitigation plan.

 This area was specifically chosen because it is home to a large concentration of the endangered snake species called massasauga. Though tracking the snakes themselves was not the primary objective, we did find several and recorded their presence for others on the environmental team to study. They are a species of rattlesnakes, but they are very timid. Their camouflage makes them hard to see, but once we still managed to find several over the course of the study. I enjoyed seeing them, and I thought it was interesting to learn about them. The graduate student told me their rattle does sound intimidating, but they only do so in order to alert other species of their presence because they do not want to be bothered. These snakes will always attempt to flee when they feel threatened and will only bite as a last resort if they feel cornered. My phone broke towards the end of my time there, so I don’t have any pictures, but this is an example of what they look like.

 I worked one-on-one with a graduate student who needed assistance doing field work for this study. Each workday, we would go into the field and collect soil samples, as well as measure pH, soil texture, and soil temperature. The soil samples that were taken were then analyzed for Snake Fungal Disease DNA. I thought it was interesting to apply the concepts I had learned in Soil Science to the field work I did in Michigan. In my free time there, I would go mountain biking at Boyne Highlands, and I also got to spend time kayaking. This was my second summer working with Purdue Fort Wayne to conduct wildlife studies. I had a great experience, and I would strongly recommend working with Purdue Fort Wayne’s biology department to any undergraduates who are interested in wildlife research.



Being a Part of Research at Purdue

There are many of us in NRES that want to make a positive impact when it comes to the environmental challenges we face as a global society. NRES students and staff have inspired me with the variety of options available and have shown what they look like. I have taken a keen interest in research in particular and finding ways to use it to generate insightful information that can be of important use in future decision making.

I recently finished some trials for a study on atmospheric CO2 level impacts on tomato plant immunity to a foliar pathogen (Botrytis cinerea) with an endophyte (Trichoderma harzianum) as its mutualistic partner aiding in said immunity. These trials were conducted in environmentally controlled CO2 chambers with help from staff at the Horticulture greenhouse and my PI (principal investigator) in the Soil Microbiology lab. The study can aid in better understanding how CO2 plays a role in plant immunity and if it worsens or improves plant health. Three different tomato plant species were also used to make comparisons of the species. These insights will allow decision makers to make decisions on the types of species that may be more efficient to use to grow tomatoes if one has better immunity than the others as CO2 levels continue to increase.

My project is just one of countless projects that can be done to gain knowledge for society to be better prepared with the coming changes that climate change will and is currently bringing about. My suggestion for those starting out in research fields of interest is to ask the professors who’s classes you enjoyed if they have positions available for an undergraduate research assistant. You can also do research for credit if there are not many options you find. Additionally, looking up or asking around about professors with your environmental interest, be it climate change, social sciences tied into environmental sciences, water quality, etc, goes a long way. Check out the papers the professor published and then send out an email expressing your interest in their research as well as a brief mention of who you are and why you are interested in working with them. 

I have found that working in a lab and getting to know my coworkers, graduate students, and postdocs have all helped shape and narrow down my interests in research. I have also gained key skills throughout the years in four different labs that have aided me in my current and future work as well. Typically an undergraduate researcher is doing the research formed and constructed by other people. However, once confidence and more understanding of the research process builds, there may be opportunities to create your own project and apply for funding as well. The Martin Agriculture Research scholarship is a fantastic resource for NRES upperclassmen to take advantage of and apply to conduct their research of interest and present at the Undergraduate research Conference at Purdue. I would also lastly recommend to not be afraid to use your imagination to create projects that can create meaningful impact. It is young scientists like us that are needed to find solutions and create a better understanding of the challenges we face and how they will impact human society and non-human beings at large. 

If you would love some guidance or ask more questions about this topic, I would happily oblige via my email sesquive@purdue.edu.



Education Beyond the Classroom

One of my favorite aspects of the NRES program is that the curriculum is designed to supplement book-work with hands-on experience. I’ve found that labs and other interactive activities in my courses have greatly enhanced my learning experience. I will give you a preview of some of my most engaging courses from the Fall 2020 semester and explain how they have been beneficial to my professional development.

In my “Soils and Landscapes” class (AGRY 565), we had weekly field trips to Purdue agricultural sites to practice soil classification. We learned how to identify various soil characteristics such as texture, color, and structure, which are valuable skills for students planning to pursue internships/careers with agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service or environmental consulting firms.

In “Soil Biogeochemistry” (EAPS 518), we hand-collected soil samples and then performed biogeochemical field-tests to assess soil health. This class provided a unique opportunity for students to experience the entire research process, from sample collection to data analysis, and I found it was particularly helpful in my preparation for graduate school.

I was also enrolled in “Seminar in Environmental Education” (EDCI 516), which was different from my typical STEM-focused courses. We learned pedagogical techniques for teaching environmental science material (focused on K-12 students), and upon completion of the course, we earned certification in Project Learning Tree (PLT) Secondary Environmental Education Modules. My favorite part about this course is that it included a variety of excursions to practice the material, including a trip to Celery Bog for a tree-identification activity.

So, if you’re interested in a major that provides meaningful, practical experience (with the added bonus of getting outside during some classes) NRES may be for you!



Internship with NICHES

This summer I interned with NICHES Land Trust which was an amazing opportunity that taught me so much and allowed me numerous, unique experiences. NICHES protects land in west-central Indiana from development and restores woodlands and prairies for the public’s enjoyment. I have been volunteering with NICHES since fall of my freshman year and heard early-on about the potential to intern over the summer; I knew right-away it was something I wanted to do. A large part of my internship was spent learning about stewardship and working hands-on chemically and mechanically eradicating invasives, collecting and spreading native seeds, and transplanting plants such as trees and sedges to guide properties in the right direction. I was even able to be a part of great opportunities like hand pollinating orange fringed orchids, floating nearby creeks, co-leading an orchid hike, and helping at volunteer workdays. For three weeks, I helped run the NICHES kids summer camp where we explored properties, found neat animals, identified plants, and enjoyed the great outdoors. One of the most valuable things I learned while interning this summer was the immense amount of plant identification which would be hard to get anywhere else. My time with NICHES has shaped my future and affected my outlook on conservation by reinvigorating my passion for nature and solidifying my future plans to pursue a career in land conservation and ecological restoration. I strongly suggest taking advantage of internships early in your college career to better learn what field you want to enter and to gain work experience.  



Looking for Summer Internships

Second semester generally marks the time that we all start looking for summer internships. It may be stressful, so here are a list of tips for how to prep so it isn’t as overwhelming when you find an internship you want to apply for:

1. Look on job boards to see what kind of internships are available and where you would potentially like to apply. Checking the NRES internships and newsletter email can be a great place to start!

2. Update and look over your resume. Even if there isn’t anything new to add, looking over your resume to update formatting, punctuation, and small changes that make you feel prepared. You can find more information about resumes on Purdue’s CCO website.

3. Go to the FNR career fair. Even if you don’t see a specific internship you want to apply for, learning how to talk to different companies and organizations will make you feel more confident when talking to the place you want to apply. The next FNR career fair is February 10th, 2021 and is virtual!

Waterfall at Clifty Falls State Park, where I worked as a seasonal naturalist in the summer of 2019



Coming to Purdue from Out-of-State

One of the most asked questions asked amongst college students: Why did you chose the school you attend? In my opinion, I tend to answer that question more often than others. I am originally from New Orleans, which is roughly 900 miles south of Purdue University. The distance does not seem so far on paper, but I define both places as two different worlds. Currently, the Coronavirus pandemic only further amplifies the distance between my school and my home. I wanted to share why I chose to go out of state to hopefully ease some people who are also contemplating the decision of moving a couple hundred miles from home (or even thousands – Purdue has a lot of international student). I also expect everyone has some form of distance occurring in this time and may want some tips to learn more about how to handle the adaption. Below is a list a tips I found helpful.

  1. Look up extracurriculars to join that you find interesting. Boilerlink is a great way to look up clubs and groups that have similar interests. I also suggest going to about any club call-outs that are happening. The club may surprise you and you might even notice some people in the clubs you are checking out. Most majors also usually have clubs connected.
  2. Join study groups. Study groups will not only help you understand class materials, but they are a great resource in finding people who will be in the same classes as you at your time here at Purdue.
  3. Go to Purdue events. Events like career fairs, club fairs, sport events help you meet others with the same interests as you.
  4. Walk around campus. Simple walking (or running) across campus helps you learn Purdue’s campus and building locations. This just helps you around campus, especially when classes start up.
  5. Try new activities. (Related to the first tip) you could find some new hobbies and activities that introduce to people and help you around campus.
  6. Find a job. A job on or near campus automatically connects you to other students on campus. The job will also help you with time management and stability.

Hope everyone had happy holidays and a happy new year! Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about Purdue. I am happy to talk to any perspective students, new students, or currents students that would like to learn more about the NRES community!



Sweden Study Abroad

Purdue is a great university when it comes to study abroad. I knew I also wanted to, and with the study abroad financial assistance, almost my whole trip was covered besides transportation, food, and recreation. In July of 2019 I went to North Eastern Sweden for a month with Purdue Students, NCSU students, and students from a few universities around Sweden. We visited four cities: Umeå, Vindeln, Sorsele, and Ammarnäs. Throughout the trip we learned about preservation practices, wind power, hydroelectric power, fish migration, wildlife, and forestry. When I was there, I saw so many things that I had never seen before. I saw the top of mountains from other mountains, streams flowing from mountain snow, weasels, wild blueberry bushes, and a reindeer. The combination of clean mountain water and fresh blueberries is unbeatable. One of my favorite activities was white water rafting on the Vindeln River. I had never done it before, and it was something I would love to do again. If you have never left the country before, you should take advantage of Purdue’s study abroad opportunities!



Why does the world need more NRES students?

There was never a moment I doubted my choice to pursue an NRES major. However, that does not mean there were not moments I struggled in this discipline. Learning about the environment can be beautiful, but it can also feel discouraging. I have learned about the most exotic marine creatures, identified soil textures using the palm of my hand, became inspired by influential figures that have paved the way in environmental justice, the list goes on… I have also learned about the dangers of the looming climate crisis, the vulnerable populations that are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, the growing garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, and the beginning of a mass extinction. It can feel heavy to carry all of this knowledge. 

I struggle when I learn about all these disasters and realize how unaffected my life is by them, but how impacted others lives are. I entered college as an NRES student with a passion for the beauty of the natural world, but I am going to graduate with an ambition to create a better world. Oftentimes I think if everyone had the opportunity to be an NRES student, the world wouldn’t even have any environmental issues, just a bunch of friendly tree huggers milling about. 

NRES students graduate and become lawyers, professors, scientists, lobbyists, researchers, and so much more. I have been lucky enough during my time as a student to build my own research project, travel to Australia and New Zealand, work for the state government, and make everlasting friendships with some of the most selfless and driven people I have ever met. All of my experiences have built me into a stronger environmentalist and a better person. 

The students that are in this major mean business. NRES students are truly pursuing what they care about – and what they care about is protecting our planet. They want to use their voices to speak for those who are not heard, they want to make sure our country has potable water, they want to build renewable energy solutions, they want to rehabilitate endangered species, they want to teach others the importance of doing all of these things – and more. NRES students are learning about how they can make the world a better place, not for themselves, but for everyone. The world needs more NRES students.



Zoom Fatigue

“Zoom University” is a term many of us were quick to adopt, and (sadly) Zoom is something that isn’t going away this next semester. I know personally this increase in time online has led to Zoom fatigue, which is exhaustion caused by continuous video calls. While this isn’t an official diagnosis yet, psychologists do acknowledge that this condition is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

Since schedules have just been released and many of us are now faced with the reality of another semester of online lectures and meetings, I wanted to share some of the most useful tipis I have found for fighting Zoom fatigue.

  1. Always have an agenda. Nothing is worse than when you are on a call that seems aimless and just takes up time. Write out talking points ahead of meetings and don’t be afraid to get straight to the point. This will make things more efficient and productive. Also, do not be afraid to ask others who organize calls for an agenda.
  2. Avoid multi-tasking. I think we have all fallen into the pit of using our phones during a lecture and learning nothing presented in the hour. It is easy to do, especially if your camera is off. To help with this, I downloaded the app Forest so that I wouldn’t use my phone during lectures. I also found that taking hand-written notes of the material helped me to stay focused.
  3. Hide your own video from yourself. In a normal conversation, you can’t see your expression/reactions/what you are wearing, so it can be strange to see them on a video call. It can also lead to us paying more attention to ourselves and what we are doing than on the others in the call. You can use Zoom’s “hide myself” feature to see others, but not yourself on calls.
  4. Schedule phone calls or just email if you can instead. This can save both time and energy for everyone involved. Writing emails can also allow you to better develop your ideas before you share them.
  5. Most importantly, schedule free time for yourself! This past semester, I found myself filling every gap I had with meetings since they are easier to schedule virtually. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 12 hours of back-to-back classes and meetings. Eventually, I learned to literally write free time, meals, chore time, etc. into my schedule. This way I had time to complete important tasks that were previously put on the back burner and have time to take care of myself.



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!



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


Internships and Patience

By: Pavithra Chidambaram

         As a sophomore last year, I knew I absolutely had to get a summer internship. I found myself comparing my work experience to those around me, who had different majors and interests. I hadn’t managed to get an internship after my freshman year (no thanks to the pandemic) and felt like I was behind compared to my peers. Regardless of if it was interesting to me or not, I was desperate to get any internship. Looking through the College of Agriculture career fair employers, I couldn’t really find a company that I thought I would like to work at, but I applied to as many as I could anyways. I got a couple interviews and felt grateful that I was being considered for those positions at all, even if they weren’t exactly places I’d enjoy working at. By Thanksgiving time, I had already accepted an internship as a research intern at an agricultural seed producing company. I was so blinded by the fact that I had actually gotten an internship, that I didn’t realize that the company and work that I’d be doing was not aligned with my career goals. As the summer got closer and closer, I realized that I was dreading the internship more and more.

         Throughout the internship, I tried my best to be optimistic and learn as much as I could. I enjoyed the experience of working as a team with my coworkers and learning about the private industry environment for the first time. Although the internship was a valuable work experience for me, it also helped me self-reflect and learn about who I was as a person. I realized that I couldn’t just work at any company because they offered me a position, and that the agricultural research field may not be the one for me. Thinking back on the internship, I have mixed feelings. I counted down the days until the end of my internship and spent a lot of time looking at the clock waiting for the days to end. At the same time, I made great connections with my supervisors and coworkers who helped me get through the long days and supported my interests. Entering junior year, I knew I had to take a different approach to finding an internship if I wanted to get better outcomes at the end of the summer.  This time, I’m hoping to be more patient. I’m speaking with classmates to learn about their internship experiences and exploring areas in environmental science that I wouldn’t have thought of before. I may not have an internship lined up by Thanksgiving this year, but I now know that a lot of NRES internships aren’t even posted until after January. Instead of comparing myself to my peers and feeling left behind now, I feel a larger sense of togetherness. I’m looking forward to finding a better work opportunity this summer.