Thursday, October 19, 2017

From the Hudson River to the Boston Harbor

Cider turning at the 13th annual Pumpkin Pageant 
My name is Lanique Dawson. I am a third-year environmental science student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. As a native New Yorker, I chose Antioch because I felt I needed to find an institution that offered opportunities to connect with the natural environment as well as grow as a member of a socially-engaged academic community that emphasizes experiential learning. Our co-op (internship) program enables students like myself to apply knowledge gained through coursework to real-world problems. My interest in Save the Harbor/Save the Bay reflects my desire to gain experience working with an organization where I can use my knowledge of science while focusing on the protection of natural resources in an urban environment.
While growing up in New York, I was mentored by an Antioch alum who encouraged me to think of myself as a practicing scientist who pursues the challenge of unanswered questions. It was through this engagement that I developed a sense of scientific curiosity around the problem of cleaning up contaminated areas known as superfund sites. Knowledge of the extent of pollution in these sites brought me to understand the importance of citizen science and the urgent need for education on environmental issues within communities. Superfund sites often result from the concentrated production of factory waste in a given area; however, problems stemming from them can be exasperated by community members who do not understand the dangers of improper disposal of industrial waste.
My role in examining superfund cleanup methods was to analyze the addition of limited  nutrients at that site. After a significant period of experimentation, I created educational materials and showcased my work through poster sessions at various symposia.
In addition to my pursuits in environmental science, I also worked with the Coro’s Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council (MYLC). We conducted a study on the limitations of student growth within the social climate of New York schools. This study consisted of identifying common issues among the 200-member youth forum and conducting research on trends affecting youth. Findings suggested that 1.1 million students across the New York City Metropolitan area faced a number of factors that contributed to poor social climate. Our group thus made recommendations for our peers, teachers, and facility managers across the city.  We then visited various schools to share our findings and worked to turn our recommendations into policy proposals for the current mayor, Bill de Blasio. After presentations and meetings with various stakeholders, we were able to implement policies in six to eight schools.

These experiences led me to an understanding of the importance of linking public policy with sound science. I thus chose my path as an environmental science major with an interest in water resources and a passion for educating the community around environmental problems. I am very interested in gaining a comparative perspective on the stewardship of natural resources in Boston so that I can prepare for a senior project focusing on water quality in urban environments. 

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