September 14, 2007: This summer has been
both a cornucopia and summation of my life desires and path.
Let me explain this further.
To begin, I was raised in Ohio, in an extremely active and
healthy family, who were very supportive about whatever I
chose to do in my life. So, I took advantage of this supportive
freedom by trying everything—ballet, soccer, basketball,
volleyball, tennis, skiing, pole vaulting, learning Spanish,
practicing vegetarianism, cycling, body building, modeling,
competing in triathlons, painting, and more. But when applying
for college and looking into the future, I began to realize
the importance of sustainability in my life. This included
the opportunity for top-level employment after graduation,
networking, running track, staying healthy, and living in
a peaceful, clean environment. It also included having the
opportunity to do whatever I wanted and being around people
who shared these values. This epiphany brought me to the Lehigh
University, a place with an outstanding reputation for delivering
a first-rate education and an environment providing ample
opportunies to expand my mind and life.
During my second year at Lehigh, I had lost interest in being
part of the track team due to my own dissatisfaction with
my performance. I began to question why I was even there.
This brought me back to my first motivation: my future sustainability
and success. With this focus, I declared my major in economics,
with an environmental science minor. My physical training
outlet became triathlons, and an internship opportunity led
me to The Rodale Institute. I’ve come to see that by
following what I have a deep passion for, all of these varied
facets of my life have become interconnected and harmonious.
Through my studies in environmental science, I have always
been interested in biological and global atmospheric processes
(think global warming, carbon footprints, life adaptations,
nitrogen fixation, etc.). Already, this interest is enough
to make me feel at home at The Rodale Institute. Although
I am no scientist or farmer, I like to explore the bigger
picture of why things are the way they are. How do all of
those environmental processes affect our day-to-day lives
and our future? This is where economics enters the picture.
I like to think of economics as a guide to living both efficiently
and prosperously, for, in my mind, the two are not mutually
exclusive. Through economics we learn why things are the way
they are, how they will react in the future, and what we should
do now to plan sustainably for that future. This goes for
everything from buying food, clothing, cars, houses and land
to paying rent, taxes and educating ourselves and our children.
The application of economic theory and methods to environmental
issues and problems—e.g. global warming, drought, La
Niña, invasive species—requires detailed analysis
in order to improve our management strategies. The contemporary
environmental debate is constantly changing, and both new
and relatively unexplored topics are continually emerging.
Here at The Rodale Institute, I am doing what I have always
wanted to do. Working with organic prices from The
New Farm Organic Price Index (OPX) allows me to see trends
in the future of organic agriculture and the influence agriculture
has on other facets of the U.S. economy. The biggest issue
I have come across is the increased demand for fuel alcohol,
namely corn ethanol. Here I have learned a lot about “King
Corn” and the long reach of the Corn Belt into all sectors
of the economy. Recently, the increased demand and prices
have decreased subsidy payments for corn used for food, feed,
and other residuals, focusing mainly on the acreage of corn
harvested for fuel production. This drives up the price of
other commodities, and bolsters the organic price premium,
adding value to an environmentally friendly and safe production
Everyone here at Rodale has made me feel so welcome and valued
since the day I walked in. I begin my senior year at Lehigh
University working part time at the Institute doing research
and analysis, and I feel so blessed to have been given this
opportunity because I have truly come into my own this summer.
Transitioning from living at home to all by myself with a
full-time job seemed so easy. I want to take what I have learned
from this internship over the summer and continue my education
after college. Right now I am involved with using upper-level
statistics and econometrics to gain a better understanding
of and insight into the pricing and correlations of agricultural
products. From here who knows where I will end up. I know
for sure that it will be with sustainability, health and happiness
at the forefront.