Student Stories: CED major sold conservation, warned farmers about pollution

November 12, 2013

Door-to-door sales can be a frustrating job, but last year Megan Romania, a junior in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, found satisfaction selling conservation to farmers.

Part of the community, environment and development major's job as an intern for the Bradford County Conservation District in Wysox, Pa., was talking with farmers about nutrient-management plans.

"We need to be more concerned about our water systems," said the Sayre, Pa., native. "The Susquehanna River is the biggest polluter of the Chesapeake Bay, and it runs through Bradford County."

Nutrient-management plans were required by the state Department of Environmental Protection beginning in the 1970s to limit pollution from livestock manure. Each farmer is required to document their manure-management practices, such as how much they are composting or spreading.

While not every farm has direct contact with the Susquehanna, there are always worries about tributaries that empty into the river. Some of the manure farmers apply to their fields could run into the smaller streams and end up in the river or the bay. So Romania informed farmers about programs to minimize pollution reaching the river.

"I had to learn how to make information about nutrient-management plans seem more helpful and personal versus condescending or confusing," she said. "Some people were interested, but some didn't want to listen, were apathetic or even were annoyed that we were there."

Romania also gave presentations at local schools and for groups about wildlife, such as snakes and birds native to Pennsylvania.

Since the internship, she has also had experience studying abroad in Australia regarding sustainability and conservation. Currently, she is studying abroad in Ireland.

"After graduation I plan to attend the Vermont Law School for a juris doctor in environmental law and a master’s degree in French business law,” said Romania. She hopes to eventually work for the United Nations as an environmental attorney.

Romania was thrilled to have the opportunity to help with conservation efforts in her home county. With the aspiration of becoming an environmental attorney, she viewed as "invaluable" the knowledge and skills she gained from her internship experience.

Learn more about the community, environment and development major.

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Last Updated November 14, 2013