Grace Johnson


Natural Resources and Environmental Science


Guymon, Oklahoma

my Purdue view

When I was applying to college, I had two distinct interests: environmental science and public policy. Once I found the Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES) program, I knew Purdue was the right fit. NRES perfectly combined my core interests into one degree.

Many of my most impactful experiences at Purdue have been through CATE [College of Agriculture Transformational Experiences]. My internship at the U.S. Green Building Council was truly transformative. The experience continued when I returned to Purdue and started an independent study with Dr. Linda Prokopy on local-level green building and environmental education policies specific to Indiana schools. This propelled me into undergraduate research in the Natural Resources Social Science Lab, where I’m now studying the persistence of cover crop usage by Midwestern farmers.

My U.S. Senate internship showed me how to account for alternative viewpoints and taught me the foundation of consensus-building, even among those championing environmentally damaging policies. It also pushed me never to stay silent about environmental issues.

Being named a Udall Scholar helps me work with others on environmental justice and public policy. Living in the Panhandle of Oklahoma and the Great Plains for most of my life, I’m aware of issues surrounding groundwater preservation, particularly in the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer will be depleted in 50 years, causing Midwestern communities and one-fifth of the nation’s agricultural production to disappear along with it. By focusing my career on the development of state-level environmental policies, I hope to improve conservation and preservation of the High Plains’ remaining water resources.

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