Ryan Tonk’s Diary
Mountain Waters of the Czech Republic

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Friday, May 8, 2009

It has been seven weeks since I received the notice that I was selected as an Earthwatch fellow. I was very excited about this opportunity and immediately began researching the project and the Czech Republic. Reviewing the diaries of past fellows was very informative, too.

When I got the notification, I began the process of getting the airfare purchased, renewing my passport, and completing the required forms. During this hectic time, I lost track in my mind of my departure date. I looked at the calendar today and saw that I leave in exactly three weeks. This has brought the excitement right back to the high level that I felt when I was notified.

I am definitely going to spend the next three weeks obtaining as much information as I can about the project and the history of the Czech Republic and the local area that I will be visiting. From the information that I have gathered so far, I will be studying the effects of acid rain on the Jizera Mountain waters. The Earthwatch team has been attempting to clean the area and remove the acid rain pollution. We will be studying the success rate of those efforts.

I have been with Alcoa for roughly eight years as a product engineer. My division of Alcoa is within the Power and Propulsion unit, and we produce castings for turbine engines, including vanes and structural components.

I live in Michigan City, Indiana, on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The lake and dune area contain a vast variety of plants and animals, and the area was studied by Henry Cowles, who is considered to be the father of ecology. The area’s fragile balance between natural land, industry, and residential housing is what has created an environmental awareness and stewardship within me.

Click image to enlarge.

Ryan Tonk