Written by: Brandon Boyd, Agricultural Research Assistant

My visit to Michigan State University was very educational and over all just a fantastic experience! For the first day there Rebecca Edler, CMN project team member, and I met the M.S.U. project members who include Julie Labarkin, Scott Kalafatis, and Caitlin Kirby. Everyone was very welcoming and helpful with our questions about the project and even for rides around the huge campus. Scott, the post-Doc student working on the project, got stuck being our chauffeur of sorts; he was extremely helpful with making sure we got a rides to and from the different seminars we attended and giving us a tour of the campus with a little historical context.

I attended the Fate of the Earth conference which featured presentations on many different aspects of sustainability with the focus on water conservation and usage. Some of the presentations I attended were titled “The Water Crisis: Are We Risking Our Health?”, “What Water Needs Now: Smarts-Water in the Era of Climate Change & Donald Trump”, which I thought was particularly interesting, but my favorite presentation was “The Flint Water Crisis: What Have We Learned”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the Flint water crisis, but what amazed me was how long ago the series of bad choices started to cause the crisis the people of Flint now face. The Flint water crisis is the product of over a half century of bad decisions.

While at MSU I also attended a presentation for the “Be Spartan Green Project”, which promotes recycling, conservation and having a more natural life style. The title of the presentation was “Climate Change Knowledge and Empowerment” by Caitlin Kirby. Caitlin has been working on the project for which I’m interning since the start so I found her input and suggestions invaluable. The garden, farm and forested areas of the campus are a big source of pride and educational opportunity for the “Be Spartan Green Project” and the students of Lansing, Michigan, take full advantage of them.

Our last night was spent at a dinner party hosted by Julie, one of the leaders of the project and many other project members. The dinner party was a great opportunity to get to know everyone on a more personal basis and share ideas about the direction we were going to head in. Although he didn’t attend the dinner we got to meet and coordinate with Kyle Whyte, the leader of our project, the following morning. Our trip ended with a tour of the campus and a little ride around the state capitol before being dropped off at the airport by Scott. Beside Rebecca wondering out loud how it would be to experience a plane crash, our flight was typical and we successfully landed. This whole trip I believe was a success. I’ve learned so much through this trip and made many new friends and acquaintances I hope to work closer with in the upcoming months. Thank you for this experience and opportunity.