Student Stories: Environmental major interns with USDA

Looking to narrow her focus as an Environmental Resource Management major, Penn State senior Lisa Boudeman decided to spend last summer getting hands-on experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

The Danville, Pa., native interned at USDA's Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Laboratory on the University Park campus. The lab works closely with the College of Agricultural Sciences on projects related to water quality and agricultural methods.

During her internship, Boudeman worked primarily on a project called Integrated Management of Land and Water Resources for Environmental and Economic Sustainability. Her focus was measuring the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from different fertilizer applications.

"We monitored nitrous oxide emissions from plots with four different nitrogen fertilizer treatments to see if the slow-release version emissions differed from those caused by traditional nitrogen fertilizer," she said.

She noted that this kind of data may lead to agricultural practices that can help improve air quality and potentially reduce atmospheric deposition of nutrients in bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay.

Boudeman's internship, which she extended into the fall semester, allowed her to explore opportunities available in her field. "It was really helpful in giving me another opportunity to see what options are out there," she said.

While she enjoyed her time working with USDA, Boudeman now realizes that she'd like to look into the business aspect of her field rather than research. "I really want to get involved in consulting, or just look into a variety of open positions," she said.

"The USDA community was very welcoming," she said. "It was an excellent experience overall. In the future, I just want to help others see the importance of conserving natural resources for their own benefit and for future generations."

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Last Updated April 24, 2012