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Sanchez to Present Water and Nutrient Management Work
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 05/12/2022

Penn State student Dana Sanchez will advance her interest in environmental education when discussing water and nutrient management solutions for Pennsylvania farms impacting the Chesapeake Bay as a presenter at a national conference.

The event is the annual meeting of the Society of Wetland Scientists, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting understanding, conservation, protection, restoration, science-based management and sustainability of wetlands.

As a recipient of the society's Multicultural Mentoring Program Award -- funded by the National Science Foundation and the society's regional chapters -- Sanchez, of Reading, will travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in May to present her poster at the conference.

Sanchez is majoring in environmental resource management in the College of Agricultural Sciences with minors in marine sciences and in watersheds and water resources. She grew up in a multicultural household; her father emigrated from Mexico, and her mother from Romania.

The experiences of watching her mother overcome challenges, such as teaching herself English, made Sanchez want to help others through education. Farmers are one group that Sanchez believes she can help to empower.

"Along with education, we must give farmers the resources to control agricultural pollution and protect water quality," Sanchez said. "Farmers and scientists must collaborate to find solutions that work for individual farms and local waterways. In the environmental field, we need to make sure we understand people's circumstances."

Sanchez has had a lifelong commitment to environmental issues and education. Her mother often took her to events designed to get children interested in the natural world. For Sanchez, the experiences were so impactful that she seeks opportunities to get children interested and involved in the environment through programs, including the Maple Harvest Festival at Shaver's Creek Environmental Center.

"I love talking with children," Sanchez said. "They may not understand the concepts, but they just love being outside. And if you say something like, 'Hey, this is a worm and this is why it's here,' kids just freak out over it."

Sanchez also enjoys educating college-aged students about the environment. Specifically, she has developed a passion for soil science and is a teaching assistant for the course SOILS 102: Introductory Soil Science Laboratory.

She also participates in the laboratory of Tyler Groh, an assistant research professor and watershed management extension specialist. There, she studies soil and water interactions and agricultural best management practices. This research aligns well with her passion for soils and extension work, especially with farmers.

Sanchez is determined to bring greater diversity to the field. She appreciates Penn State's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and she hopes that by offering diversity resources, more people will have the opportunity to contribute to the natural world positively.

Tammy Shannon, academic advising coordinator and instructor for the Environmental Resource Management program, noted Sanchez's involvement and said her enthusiasm contributes to her achievements.

"Dana is a great student with a combination of critical thinking, initiative and passion for making a difference in the world," Shannon said.

Sanchez said she is looking forward to making connections at the Society of Wetland Scientists conference.

"My experiences have taught me the value of teaching others about the importance of the environment and agriculture," said Sanchez, who is considering a career in extension. "I want to make a difference."


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