On February first, President Obama sent congress a 3.8 trillion dollar budget, echoing his mission to put Americans back to work and improve our education system. Of that proposal, 1.1 billion would go to the US Geological Survey, a federal agency with a significant role in natural resource issues.
Jack - "All of the work that we do is intended to support public decision making and help us manage our resources effectively and wisely, and make the best public investment we can of the dollars available."
The 22 million dollar boost to the agency would not come as a surprise, as the president has long stressed the importance of making decisions based on scientific fact. Last October, he signed an executive order that mandates federal government shall strive for a clean energy economy and set an example for Americans to follow.
Jack - "One could make the case that this country has a long way to go in environmental education and try to increase our science literacy in this country. The debate over climate change is a very good example of that. There are a lot of concerns raised, in part because many people do not understand the scientific underpinnings, so with that as an example, it's important for centers to have these outreach programs."
One of the ways our local USGS center in La Crosse provides outreach to the community is giving tours to school groups. Last Wednesday, an ag-class from Melrose-Mindoro High School toured the center. The students enjoyed learning a number of things about our environment.
Page - "I think it's pretty interesting how much we've brought into the lakes, like zebra mussels, and how we're trying to fix it and control it."
And the impact from humans.
Cody - "It should be important for us to know about the environment, because we live in it, we should respect it. I think we should appreciate what we've got."
Some experts say getting young people more interested in science is a good move, because as debates continue in congress over natural resource issues, more job opportunities may become available.
Jack - "Certainly, there's going to be a lot of opportunity for people to move into scientific research positions. But I think also with the president's education initiatives, we are going to try and increase our scientific education and literacy."