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Quietly Making A Difference

An American White Pelican forages in a marsh

Did you know that not only millions of birds frequent the marshlands surrounding the Great Salt Lake but also dozens of Utah State University students and faculty?

They tend to blend in and keep to themselves. Graduate students like Maya Pendleton and Emily Leonard who you might easily have missed camouflaged among the Phragmites and Cattails of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, are counting birds, taking core samples, and trapping invertebrates. Sharing plots and data built upon previous research stretching back decades, all combine to help paint a clearer picture of Utah’s wetlands and the vast inland sea they feed.

Points of information connect one insight to another. Individual research projects, like tributaries, feed into a larger lake of knowledge. These students are part of a vast scholarship that not only leads to better management of resources, but also to the potential of saving lives and livelihoods.

This issue flushes out others among our university community who are quietly making a difference through their service. Such as 40 years of work by USU Professor Layne Coppock and his students to help pastoral people live sustainably in eastern Africa and Afghanistan. Or five USU graduates now working together in the same FBI office to protect and to defend. Or two senate majority leaders in neighboring states reaching out across the aisle in the spirit of public service.

The purpose of a land grant university is not only for instruction through discovery, but also for service through application. It is the rolling up of our sleeves that renders our research and teaching its upmost meaning.

PS… Nobody guessed the mystery photo we placed in the last issue of the magazine. It was a photo of a shower head on the east wall of the original Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, that now houses public relations. Why a shower head? Would love to hear from somebody who might know.

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