Research about Red Cedar River watershed displayed at U.S. Capitol
May 8, 2017
that has been a hot topic in west-central Wisconsin for many years, water
quality in the Red Cedar River watershed, reached the U.S. Capitol in April,
thanks to a UW-Stout federal grant.
the Hill at the capitol in Washington, D.C., included research by Alexis
Econie, an Illinois State University student. She conducted her study in summer
2016 at UW-Stout as part of the LAKES REU — research experience for
undergraduates. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation.
the Hill, sponsored by the national Council on Undergraduate Research, featured
60 research posters by university students from around the U.S. out of hundreds
of applications. Students showcased their work for members of Congress.
research was one of three posters from UW System schools.
accompanied by UW-Stout Associate Professor Nels Paulson, social science,
co-director of LAKES and her research adviser. Her project focused on people who
own farmland but rent it to farmers and when and why these landowners require
The title of
her research is “Power in Connectivity: Social Capital and BMP Lease Agreements.”
“Two of her
main findings were that when these nonoperating landowners — NOLs — are
politically engaged in local nonprofit organizations and when they discuss the
yields from their land with their farmers they are much more likely to require
such conservation practices in their lease agreements,” Paulson said.
conservation practices are a factor, researchers believe, in cutting the
phosphorous load in the watershed’s lakes, rivers and streams and thereby reducing
toxic blue-green algae blooms each summer.
Congress, from the Senate and House of Representatives from Wisconsin and
Illinois, visited with Econie and Paulson, including Econie’s representative
Rodney Davis, R-Ill. Davis is interested in using the research to improve
agricultural practices in the U.S., Paulson said.
excited when Davis — they both grew up in the Macon County, Illinois — stopped at
her poster presentation with several members of the media.
“He proposed that we work together over the summer to set up a
sustainable agriculture program for the farmers and landowners of Macon and
other surrounding counties, based on our research from the National
Science Foundation REU hosted at UW-Stout. It was a truly wonderful
experience, and I am very fortunate,” Econie said.
said the LAKES REU experience has changed her life.
easily one of the top two most influential academic experiences of my entire
education to date. Working with the incredible LAKES mentors, especially
Dr. Nels Paulson who was my immediate adviser and mentor, helped me to refine
my research skills, advance my statistical analysis abilities and boost my
confidence in my own ability. Because of the LAKES REU, I know that I have the
drive and the capacity to make a positive change through academic
LAKES experience provided me a platform for hands-on environmental stewardship
and cemented my dedication for pursuing a career in environmental sociology,”
said Econie, who graduates this May and plans to do environmental service work
in AmeriCorps before enrolling in a graduate program focused on sociological
components of environmental preservation.
the past three years, LAKES REU has worked toward solving the water quality
issues in the region with dozens of research projects by students from around
Econie, an Illinois State University student who did research at UW-Stout,
meets with U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis at Posters on the Hill, at the U.S. Capitol
in Washington, D.C.
Bottom: Alexis Econie and her research adviser, UW-Stout Associate Professor Nels Paulson,
meet at Posters on the Hill.