The Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry Scholarship Endowment Fund

2016 Scholarship Recipient:

Allison Harvey

Allison Harvey of rural Lake City, MN

Her comments in response to learning

about being a recipient:

“Walking the line between being environmentally conscientious while supporting agriculture can be difficult in a world of polarized opinions. This scholarship helps the next generation of conservation minded agriculturalists feel supported as we step into new roles and develop agriculturally sustainable practices and mindsets. This scholarship also allows me to immerse myself in worthwhile experiences that I would otherwise forgo without financial support. In all, this scholarship means that I am supported in my endeavors and encouraged to grow in my field through experiential learning.” 

Asked where do you see yourself in the future, she wrote:

I want to strike a balance between contributing directly to my field and enabling others to do the same. I can see myself in a position that both implements and investigates sustainable management strategies, but also teaches others about how they can impact agriculture. With this in mind, I am considering a wide range of opportunities for myself.

On the application end of the spectrum. I envision myself working for an agency such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service or a Soils and Water Conservation District. The impacts I would make to agriculture would be more direct and less hypothetical than research and teaching. This opportunity would also still allow me to work with farmers to collaborate on the best methods for them and their land.

On the education end of the spectrum, I visualize myself working at a university. I thoroughly enjoy the variety of tasks that being a professor involves, and the many ways I would advance my field. The research I would perform not only would improve my field, but would also have the ability to stay connected with the learning process. With education, I wouldn’t be limited to one area of expertise, but would be able to explore different avenues.

I am holding soil containing redoximorphic features.  ‘Redox’ features form when soil is saturated for a period of time. Most microbes in the soil breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide just like we do. However, when the soil is saturated, oxygen becomes very limited. This is when some microbes start ‘breathing’ iron! They take the solid, rusty red iron that we see (Fe3+), ‘breathe’ it in, and then ‘exhale’ it as aqueous, blue/green iron (Fe2+) that can float around in solution. The result can be beautiful patterns and colors in the soil. These ‘redox’ features are used to delineate wetland and determine septic system installations. The cool thing is that ‘redox’ features don’t undo themselves, so even if we see them in a very dry area we know that sometime within the life of that soil, it was underwater.