Today’s guest blogger is Iowa Learning Farms/Water Rocks! student intern Pacifique Mugwaneza Simon, or Pac for short! Pac is a fourth year student at Iowa State University studying Industrial Technology and Agriculture Systems Technology. His family is originally from Burundi, a small country in East Africa, but Pac spent most of his childhood in refugee camps throughout Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania. He has lived in the United States for almost eight years.
Growing up in a different part of the world, I saw first-hand how agriculture and natural resources are vital to everyone. A large percentage of people in Burundi depend on agriculture, but there are many problems. The amount of land available is scarce, while the quality of arable land is diminishing through over-use and erosion. To make things worse, about 60 percent of the population still doesn’t have access to clean water because they don’t have anyone who can help them understand how to properly care for and use the available water.
I decided that I would do my best to educate as many as I can about water quality. When I began looking for an internship, I could not find one that seemed like a good fit. Then I discovered the internship opportunity with Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms. Since then, I have been working with an awesome group of people who have such a large depth of knowledge and understanding about our environment and who do their best to help keep the earth as it should be. Throughout the summer I have been busy doing field work, such as collecting lysimeter samples and soil samples. We have also been doing many outreach events, where we go out to different parts of Iowa and try to teach the people of the communities, and hopefully, in turn, they will help each other with local conservation practices.
I can honestly say I enjoy doing everything this internship has to offer me, especially the outreach events! I like talking to the local youth about conservation in their community. Recently, I went with our team to the Howard County Fair. It was one of my favorite outreach events because we had a lot of fun and when we were done we walked around and explored the different types of food the fair has to offer!
Since joining the Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms team this summer, I have seen what is best for us and the environment and what is not. I hope to one day return to East Africa, to Burundi, so that I may impart what I have learned. I want to help the people to work together to improve their soil and water quality. I want this not only for agricultural success and clean drinking water, but to help keep the earth healthy as well.