Student Spotlight: Alexis Johnson

Alexis_JMajor: Environmental Policy and Decision Making (EPDM)
Specialization: International Issues
Graduation: May 2016

Internship: Farm Credit Mid America
When: Summer 2014 and Summer 2015

My name is Alexis Johnson and I am fourth year student studying Environmental Policy and Decision Making with a minor in African History. I am from Cleveland, OH and when you think of Cleveland, you do not necessarily think environmentally friendly or thoughts of agricultural production do not readily form images in your mind, but if you travel to Cleveland today, signs of urban agriculture welcome you with open arms. These past two summers, I had the opportunity to have an internship with Farm Credit Mid America where I focused on understanding the urban agriculture movement in Cleveland and how Farm Credit could be of assistance. I spent my time meeting with various stakeholders and interviewing urban farmers to better understand the urban market. I quickly became an expert in urban farming and how it is helped to revitalize the City and open the door for people from low income neighborhoods to have access to locally grown fruits and vegetables. Children have a better understanding of where their food comes from, crime has gone down in various neighborhoods that contain community gardens, people understand the importance of eating healthier, and communities are being rebuilt all around the city. This urban farming movement is definitely something to be excited about and I am glad that I had the chance to experience this positivity first hand. Having this internship with Farm Credit Mid America is just one of the many experiences I have had being a student within the School of Environment and Natural Resources. I am thankful to be part of such a community and to continually experience my passion for environmental studies in a variety of ways.

Study Abroad Experience: Alpha Zeta Partners Program of Study
When: Spring Semester 2014- 6 week program
Location: Piracicaba, Brazil

Alexis_2For me studying abroad served as a unique experience that I will always remember during my time at Ohio State and beyond. At the time, OSU was ranked the fourteenth university in the nation to send students on study abroad trips and therefore I knew I came to the right school and would eventually fulfill a dream of traveling outside the U.S. again; his time for a longer and more focused period of time. Little did I know that dream would come true as early as spring semester of my sophomore year. I remember calling my mom and telling her that I would be traveling to Brazil for six weeks to study Brazilian history, economics, governmental policies, and agriculture. We both were really excited and I soon began the process of finding scholarships and talking with the Office of International Affairs on ways to finance my trip. Once the time finally came I felt more than ready to go and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. With nineteen other buckeyes, we dove head first into the Brazilian culture and way of life. Beautiful weather, fresh fruit, and unrecognizable words surrounded us as we made Brazil our home away from home.

Choosing this particular study aboard program allowed me to form lasting friendships with people who shared similar interest in agricultural and environmental issues. Brazil allowed us to explore our interests on a global scale, while helping us develop a closer bond. This bond then allowed us to support and challenge one another to think deeper about agricultural issues.

Alexis3.0Intellectually, I gained knowledge that cannot be taught in classrooms in the United States. To know is to experience. The only way to gain a first-hand experience in the way Brazil handles their agricultural and environmental issues with respect to history and their economy is to travel and learn from well educated people who study and work in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, being able to travel to Brazil has made me a better-rounded individual and has given me an insight on how agricultural processes work in a different country. Having this insight sets me a part in the job market because employers are seeking people who have had out of the country experiences to help influence decisions and give a new perspective on processes, especially in the agriculture industry.

Lastly, I enjoyed my time studying abroad so much in Brazil that I have decided to do it again, this time in a much colder environment. This past spring semester I was selected to participate in Ohio State’s first ever study abroad trip to Antarctica during Winter Break 2015 and I am beyond excited for such an opportunity! Being a student in the School of Environment and Natural Resources has definitely allowed me to explore my passion for environmental studies while stepping out of my comfort zone. Each day weather inside or outside the classroom, I am challenged to think differently about the world around me. I personally do not think I could have gained this much awareness about our environment had not chosen to be a part of the SENR community.

Alexis_4

 

STEP Program
Click HERE to see Alexis’s digital story entitled City Roots, Country Heart, highlighting her STEP Experience during her sophomore year here at OSU!

Leadership Spotlight: Alissa Finke

High Sierra-150-Exposure-M

Major: Environmental Science Specialization: Ecosystem Restoration Graduation: May 2016

Program: Leadership, Backpacking   The High Sierras OSU Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), July 2014

What is STEP? What is the OAC?

I wanted to get away from everything and get out of my comfort zone.  In order to, I decided to go backpacking for two and a half weeks and walked 129 miles in the wilderness of the Sequoia and Kings Canon National Park. I was given this opportunity through funding from the OSU STEP program. Myself and seven other students left Columbus and headed for California. We were all strangers and were being lead by two men, who worked for the Outdoor Adventure Center at OSU – Tyler and Blake. We had no idea what lay ahead of us. We were all going to have to work together as we learned about the kind of leaders we were and how to take the lessons back to our lives at OSU. We took only what we could carry on our backs. There are no bathrooms, running water, or technology. There was only you, your company, the trail, and the endless skylines. We all had a lot to adjust to: changes in elevation of 7,000ft to 12,000ft, 9-13 miles a day with 35+lbs packs. We lived simply. We were organized, and we trusted each other with our lives.

High Sierra-513-Exposure-MOnce Tyler and Blake had given us the skills we needed to survive in the backcountry, they took a step back and were no longer our leaders. Instead, they became our equals. We then had one of the students be leader of the day. This might sound pretty simple, but you wouldn’t be more wrong. As leader of the day, you had charge of everything: the route we took, what we were eating, and when. The leader decided the number of water breaks, and everyone’s safety. We all had different leadership styles that emerged, and we each found our strengths and weaknesses. There were great accomplishments where we were able to go from 8,000ft to 12,000ft and back down to 9,000ft in one 13-mile day. When we reached the top of this pass, the view was simply like nothing I could ever describe with justice. We were on the edge of a rift between two mountainsides. A storm brewing to the east and a sun set in the west. It was something out of a dream.

High Sierra-578-Exposure-MThen there were the moments where I would collapse from exhaustion, my feet bleeding, my eyes running with tears. I felt defeated. I wanted to just scream, but I had no strength. Then my team tells me it is time to move on. I take a deep breath and make myself stand. Then I start to take one step after the other. We all had moments like this. Each and every one of us had a time where we wanted to give up. Yet every single person made the decision to get back up and keep walking. We experienced these extreme highs and lows together, giving us a bond so genuine.

I came away a stronger and more confident leader. I know I will constantly be growing, but after this experience I know I am ready for anything.