Hello, I am Reece Ehret, an Environmental Studies major at Northern Illinois University, and working with the stream research team during this REEU. I developed my interest in nature mainly through fishing and hiking. Being out fishing on a lake or hiking through the woods puts me at peace and makes me feel connected to the natural world. Through immersing myself in nature I found the need to protect it. Not only does it serve as a challenge for me to solve the myriad of problems and threats that face it, but I truly value nature. I do find purpose through problem solving, and I also feel obligated to sustain the environment. The natural world helped shape who I am, and I am driven to protect it for future generations. Ultimately, we need nature to survive, so it is in our best interest to protect it.
I’m extremely excited to be here in West Lafayette, specifically Purdue University. I’ve already been introduced to so many of the amazing facilities that students and researchers have the opportunity to utilize, and I can’t wait to take advantage of them. Furthermore, I cannot wait to begin researching and working with this team of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Also, interacting with the organisms in the stream ecosystems surrounding Purdue University not only excites me, but allows me to gain experience in an area I am not very familiar with. In my career, I am looking to explore the route of Environmental Policy. I am striving to eventually become a part of a bureaucratic organization like the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Department of the Interior, etc. Adding on, I am willing to become a part of a lobbying agency or corporation where I would be pushing for sustainability and positive environmental policy. With that being said, anything in the environmental field excites me, and I keep an open mind to the direction of my career.
This REEU will help me achieve these goals because it will give me hands on experience, enhance prior learning, and help me connect what goes on in the field to policy. While I do eventually want to end up in policy, I believe it is extremely important to understand how research is conducted, and where scientific findings come from. Understanding how results are obtained will give me a more comprehensive knowledge on more topics and will make me more educated to make policy decisions. I feel that one of the biggest issues today is the disconnect between science and politics/the general population. Unfortunately, some people do not trust science, or they cannot comprehend what is being shared with them. This makes its way to policy-makers who misuse and/or misinterpret scientific data. I aim to not fall in that trap and be a difference maker in that right. I truly believe the REEU will help make that vision a reality for me, and it will help me be not only a better scientist, but a better policy-maker. Undoubtedly, this REEU will help me achieve what I want in my career.