September 14, 2007: This summer has been both
a cornucopia and summation of my life desires and path. Let me explain
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
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
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
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.